Multi-award-winning Welsh stand-up comic Mark Watson has an ongoing love of visiting Melbourne for the Comedy Festival, and we love him right back. This time around Watson presents The Infinite Show, a work which shows him in full flight.
Watson greeted the queuing audience with cards seeking responses to questions like: “YOUR STRANGEST OPINION, HABIT OR CHARACTER TRAIT?” These were collected and scrutinized prior to the show. As we waited, we watched a “Powerpoint” of cards collected at performances in Britain. We learned that people will write some weird sh*t when granted anonymity.
So, is this Infinite Show some reference to the hidden diversity which permeates the human race? (Or, at least, an English-speaking comedy festival audience?) It WAS a way to kick off some crowd work when punters publicly owned up to their quirks, and this did get some big laughs. Basically though, skimming over a few cards at the show’s start and end made this seem something of a gimmick at this stage.
BUT, the genius of Mark Watson (except possibly for previews, where he admitted to going way off track!) is that this doesn’t matter in the slightest. He teased us about this show in his memorable 2018 MICF offering I’m Not Here. Fans will find that Watson does explain more on the reasons for his period of absence from Australia. Meaty topics broached included difficulties raising children after his marriage breakdown.
The announcement of his divorce to zero response gave Watson an entry to discussing how Aussies are much more practical about some matters than the sentimental Brits who would have “awed”. Observations on cultural differences would earn some good laughs over the hour.
Watson has a special talent for maintaining momentum, almost effortlessly it seemed. His story-telling was polished, and he frequently dropped quality gags along the journey, for consistently big laughs. Perhaps the best connection to “Infinite” here is Watson’s ability to veer off in seemingly any random direction prompted by audience interaction, and still snap back to forge ahead with the prepared tale.
There was some appealingly nutty and unconventional content, as Watson showed awareness of expectations which seek to shape his life. One delightful example concerned a record book for parents bringing their kids to school late. Watson’s impishness in testing out what he could get away with in the late book’s “Reason” column had a particular appeal as an example of non-violent resistance to amuse yourself.
I’ve not had too many comedy shows of late where I’ve enjoyed surprises, had laugh-out-loud moments, and a smile on my face for the whole time. The show is probably going to be at least a bit different every night given the crowd work component (ah, is that why it is The Infinite Show?) but you could count on Watson to craft this into a highly entertaining, crowd-pleasing hour.
Mark Watson – The Infinite Show
Supper Room – Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 29 March 2019 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 21 April 2019
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Mark Watson (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte