We’ve all had some pondering to do about the fragility of life over the last couple of years but at almost 42, Mark Watson has it covered – he’s halfway through his life according to the life expectancy calculator app he paid 99p for and is ready to share his overthinking on what life is really all about in this ninety-minute stand-up routine (plus interval).
For anyone in the entertainment industry, the pandemic has wiped out pretty much everything from audiences to venues and as Watson is keen to explain, online gigs don’t really work too well when you can only see one member of your audience. To these travails, add a messy divorce and the challenge of bringing up two children as a single dad and he has every reason to be on a downer but with his healthy dose of self-deprecating humour, Watson takes us on a journey of pre-pandemic recollections when he used to be able to tour: from fan stalking to confessing to getting a free meal after being mistaken for another actor through to the worst ever heckle – and he wasn’t even on stage at the time – it was an enjoyable opening set that played to an eclectic audience and an almost full house.
Watson’s divorce plays heavily throughout and whilst he takes advantage of the opportunity for humorous insight and observation, you can tell the scarring is still fresh. On this topic alone – and when he’s ready – there is a balanced show in there that I would like to see him tour at some point especially when one considers the challenge of bringing up two children, compounded further by their own questioning: what if I’m actually frightened of you, ponders his daughter on a sleepless night already plagued by imaginary wolves and ghosts, before his son’s determined observation that Watson’s time will most definitely come so is it to be burial or incineration brings us nicely back to the point of the evening.
Watson is intrigued by his forecasted 84 years and wonders what we would do differently if we knew how long we had left to live. To explore it more fully in the second half he invites an audience member to follow suit and 62-year-old Clare (note: no ‘I’) was more than happy to oblige. This brought the best from Watson on the night: as much as all performers will have the bare bones of a show laid out to fall back on, he proved to be at his best when he was improvising on the spot, showing himself to be instinctively funny and thankfully not woke – a fact the audience clearly didn’t mind judging by the deserved laughter and applause.
It’s difficult to say more than that without giving away Watson’s tools of the trade which would detract from any of you going to see him perform live which I would recommend, and his conclusion on life at the end echoes soundly with all of us after the last couple of years: you just have to make the most of it.
Further details of the tour and future shows can be found at https://www.markwatsonthecomedian.com/
The Unity provided a perfect, intimate venue for tonight, further details of their upcoming productions can be found at https://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk/whats-on/
Reviewer: Mark Davoren
Reviewed: 9th February 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★