There’s a reason Mark Watson hasn’t been to our shores for the last three Melbourne International Comedy Festivals and, on the surface, it would seem like no laughing matter.
The UK comedian has recently been through a turbulent midlife crisis that lead to problems with alcoholism and a break from comedy all together. His comeback show, Flaws, has the hyper-neurotic comedian retracing his steps to the point where he hit rock bottom. Laughing already?
The early part of the show is filled with anecdotes of Watson fractious relationship with society. As the proverbial square peg in a round hole, Watson imbues each of his stories with a self-awareness that makes his neuroses all the more engaging (and funny.) The laughs come thick and fast but often with a stinging undercurrent. ‘This took a year of life’ the manic Watson deflects in the middle of a bit somewhere between anti-depressants and bad pop song lyrics. Comfortable in his own edgy discomfort, Watson seemed to relish being back on stage, effortlessly maneuvering the crowd to laughter, discomfort and reflection, often within the same joke.
Fastidious, neurotic but also engaging, Watson is not unknown for the uncomfortable or the unpredictable at his shows. This is a guy who’s more than happy to punish himself with a 24-Hour comedy show or two in previous years. ‘Maybe it’s the Catholic in me’ he suggests. Stalking audience members on Twitter and playing with a group of audience members who were a record 45 minutes late (for a one hour show) is child’s play for Watson and just a handful of moments that suggested the show could derail into total chaos. And, in fact, it did. A live re-enactment of the moment that finally pushed Watson over the edge had even me wanting to check into a psychiatric centre in the Dandenong Ranges. Welcome back, Watson.