Mark Watson: Flaws (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

Mark Watson: Flaws

Superb show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe ensures a decade on comedian remains at the top of his game

The Thomas the Tank Engine theme song is playing on repeat, the audience are blowing whistles and popping balloons at random and Mark Watson is stumbling around the room followed by a man demanding that he tweet about this experience. It’s both an accurate embodiment of anxiety and a distressing look into the lowest point of the comedian’s life last year. This hellish fever dream is an out-of-sorts moment in Watson’s latest show Flaws, a replication of the point he realised he ought to get some therapy.

Watson is at a point reached by most comedians when they are running out of material: he is a father, over 30 and worried about getting old. While stand-ups doing jokes about ageing is nothing new, Watson has had ten years to master his craft, so while unadventurous, his material is solid, polished and very funny.

A manic force – nervousness is ever-present – and apparently confused by an unusually sedate Friday night crowd, Watson discusses the realisation he’s come to in the last year: maybe he’s not an awkward kook with quirky stories to tell, but just a bit of a dick. This leads into an exploration of flaws and his conclusion is the entirely unsurprising concept that nobody is perfect.

Watson is better than such platitudes but it is hard to hold it against him because of his perfectionism: he calls back and deconstructs this material to the point where it no longer seems unoriginal. Yes, he’s not playing with anything groundbreaking, but his decade of experience shows this isn’t necessary to put on a superb show.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 24 Aug, 9pm (and 11.50pm on 22 & 23 Aug), £14–£15.50 (£12–£14).

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