Mark Watson review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

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Seeing shows early in the MICF means many are still being worked on and tweaked. At his second show last week, Mark Watson mused about what did and didn’t work in his act the night before.

He felt it was a shambolic; stuff that was working tonight barely drew a murmur last night. There are doubtless books on audience psychology and Watson uses his audience’s behaviour as a prop to enlist our sympathy.

Who know if he says this every night, but it’s in line with his theme of how we connect as humans. To that end, he has collected cards from the early arrivals with answers to questions that he has posed. These become his material and a means of him sussing out the mood of his audience and the tone of the night.

Introductory slides tell us that he will be calling on us in some ways during the show…. something that makes me cringe in anticipation. But he is no Barry Humphries shamer of latecomers, nor a comic who picks on a few who become the butt of jokes.

Instead, Watson’s style is self-deprecating, bumbling and diffident. He stumbles into jokes – often about his family and kids – cutting himself off with musings and digressions. It’s a measure of his skill as a performer that he pulls off this self-deprecatory act so seamlessly.

The show highlights are his off-the-cuff interactions with the audience;  misremembering a partially sighted woman and completely missing her guide dog sitting right in front of him made for much mirth at his own expense.

Watson is consistently fun and funny. His prepared material is pretty good playing up his own incompetencies and this, combined with the real messiness of his audience interactions make for a great evening out.

Mark Watson is at the Melbourne Town Hall Supper Room until April 21

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