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Mark Watson: ‘I walk this tightrope between a seemingly respectable life and complete chaos’

Mark Watson: ‘I walk this tightrope between a seemingly respectable life and complete chaos’ 1 2

Hugely successful comedian and novelist Mark Watson will take to the stage at The Cresset in Peterborough on Sunday, 23 November. James Rampton spoke to him about fatherhood, fearlessness – and Edinburgh Fringe stand-up marathons...

Mark Watson is a naturally funny man. To prove the point, the stand-up, who is the father of a newborn baby, begins our chat by telling me how shattered he is. ‘My phone is currently at three per cent power, which is a reasonable metaphor for the state of my life right now.

‘The difference is that I’m not as easy to charge up as a phone. Coffee is my equivalent of a phone charger, but it’s not as reliable. But both my phone and I are just about getting through most days!’

Following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival, this magnetic comedian is embarking on a most welcome 65-date national tour with his wonderfully entertaining new show, entitled ‘Flaws’. In the show, which marks his tenth anniversary in comedy, Mark explores why, despite our lack of perfection and poor decision-making, humans are still pretty spectacular.

‘The buzz you get from a live show is pretty unique. You walk out on stage and you get an immediate, huge sense of love and affection from the audience’

Even though he may not possess the answer to all of life’s most serious questions, the comic reflects with his customary hilarity on the process of growing up, including the terrifying ageing process, parenthood and the fear of passing terrible traits onto your children. In this thought-provoking adventure, he examines human character defects and the effects his own flaws have had on his life. This is Mark’s most personal and funniest show to date.

When we meet in a North London cafe in the run-up to the tour, Mark shows himself to be a rare example of a comedian who is as engaging off stage as he is on it. He makes for brilliant company; our hour together is punctuated by the sound of laughter.

The stand-up, who in 2006 won both the Panel Prize at The If.comedie Awards and the Time Out Critics’ Choice Award, can be summed up by all those adjectives beginning with C: charming, comic, chaotic and completely compelling.

But I’m not the only fan of this marvellously self-effacing stand-up. The critics have also been queuing up to praise the comedian who is widely regarded as one of the finest acts on the circuit.

‘Comedians who feel no anxiety have simply become machines’

The Times called him, ‘The highest achiever the Edinburgh Festival has seen this decade. A huge comic presence.’ Meanwhile, The Guardian described him as ‘A prodigy’, and the Daily Telegraph said he was, ‘Simply exhilarating’.

Mark is a peerless live force, and he simply can’t wait to be performing stand-up once again. The comedian, who has also recently starred with Henning Wehn in Dave’s new show, Road To Rio, explains just why he loves the live arena so much.

‘The buzz you get from a live show is pretty unique. You walk out on stage and you get an immediate, huge sense of love and affection from the audience. It is only comedy where you get such an instant response and where the stakes are so high.’

The comic, who on radio has presented the well-regarded shows, Mark Watson Makes The World Substantially Better, 100 Million or Bust and Mark Watson’s Live Address to the Nation, continues, ‘People instinctively feel that stand-up must be terrifying because the performer is so exposed.

‘There is no doubt that I find it nerve wracking. Comedians who feel no anxiety have simply become machines. But in a live show, at least you are in control. With TV, what you do might only… [cont]

Mark Watson: ‘I walk this tightrope between a seemingly respectable life and complete chaos’ 1 2

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