This is Englishman Mark Watson’s 10th MICF, and he regrets recent absences due to COVID-19. Melbourne-loving Watson found that a pandemic can give too much time to think about the state of your life. Results of this introspection inform one theme of This Can’t Be It.
Watson was last live at MICF in 2019, and had a virtual offering at MICF 2021. Or, you may have seen him on the UK’s Taskmaster (Season 5, 2017, aired here more recently). We may wonder: “How can he keep the act fresh?”
The answer presented itself immediately, through quite an unconventional opening to a Watson show. Comments on his immersion in Melbourne’s culture, and jibes at high-profile celebrities who couldn’t follow rules quickly elicited loud laughs from a Friday house full of fans.
Watson’s tendency to weave observational comedy together with updates on his life naturally leads him towards new topics. His kids are now eight and twelve, and dealing with their phobias and intense questions around mortality provided some quality content.
With his rapid-fire style and somewhat neurotic slant, Watson can wring laughs even from what could be well-trodden areas, such as travel stories. Less typical content includes accounts of how he’s tried to cover up parenting fails. There were also snappy gags about the UK’s half-arsed attempts at infection control, and awkward zoom gigs.
Watson lost seven MICF 2022 shows through forced isolation, and seemed determined to make up for lost time. Some might find that the show’s theme is a little under-developed.
However, Watson’s shows are always well assembled; tightly written stories allow him to pack the laughs in, and he keeps swearing for where it’s appropriate. He also has a special talent for spinning some odd event from the audience into laughs.
MICF gives us the chance to see comedy in a variety of forms. If you’re yet to see some quality stand-up and are thinking “This can’t be it for 2022?!” – you can count on Mark Watson for a highly amusing hour.
Mark Watson: This Can’t Be It
Lower Town Hall – Melbourne Town Hall, 100 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 22 April 2022 – 9.00pm
Season continues to 24 April 2022
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Mark Watson (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte