MARK WATSON

Mark Watson: How You Can Almost Win (Work in Progress): The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh, 2018
Mark Watson: I Appreciate You Coming To This and Let’s Hope For The Best: The S/and Comedy Club, Edinburgh, 2019
Edinburgh Comedy Allstars: Underbelly, George Square, Edinburgh, 2019
Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards Gala: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2019
Mark Watson’s Watsonathon: Online: 2020
Mark Watson: Next Up Comedy Festival: Online: 2020
Mark Watson’s Watsonathon II: Online: 2020

I saw one of Mark Watson’s Edinburgh Fringe show in August 2018 which was entitled How You Can Almost Win.  In the show, he described how, for a man prone to significant stress, with many fears and a history of poor confidence in himself, Watson was asked to go on The Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls and accepted. As he described at the start of his work-in-progress show, this feat really wasn’t for him at all because his favourite things include food, safety and comfort and not being terrified and grumpy. The experience however changed the disorganised comedian for the better, and the hour became a sort of motivational talk / seminar about what he learned from it about life – with lots of jokes. Watson’s description of the ordeal was inspired as was the use of PowerPoint charts deciding whether or not he should take up the challenge at all. It was an interesting and very funny show from the Fringe regular.

I saw Watson again at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2019 with his new work-in-progress show I Appreciate You Coming To This and Let’s Hope For The Best.  The Fringeeteran presented a show full of laughter and hope as he talked about new hopeful beginnings.  The audience were treated to a bonus ten minutes at the start of the hour where Watson stood in the audience shouting at the crowd without a microphone to deliver his material.

I also saw Watson headline the Edinburgh Comedy Allstars showcase at the Underbelly, George Square where the Welsh comedian had the late-night audience convulsing with laughter delivering quick-fire stories with immaculate timing.

Having a very busy time, Watson also made a brilliant compere at Dave Edinburgh Comedy Awards Gala that I went to in August 2019 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  He was very warm with the packed audience and had some great stories to tell before he introduced the acts.

Watson is famous for putting on 24-hour plus live marathon comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe every year.  These are normally so popular that I have never been able to get in.  In 2020, t world was in rip of a pandemic and everyone was told to stay at home.  The economy suffered as a result.  In May 2020, Watson and his team – Steve McNeil, Rob Shakespeare and others – decided to deliver an online show: The Watsonathon linking up to everyone’s homes which lasted a whole day where comedians came together to support good causes.  I decided to watch the entire spectacle and (apart from falling asleep for three hours in the middle of the night), the whole thing was extremely entertaining and very funny.  Highlights included a full scale online virtual wedding, an escape room, cooking with power tools, an athlete running two marathons in two days, stories, poetry, challenges, interviews, quizzes, auctions and a brand new specially designed gameshow.  The online chat room gave the audience watching a chance to participate with comments (which I did) and Watson was the perfect host: warm, enthusiastic, lively, witty, exceptionally funny and ultimately, for lasting the course, heroic.  The role-call of comedians was very long and impressive and appearances that I saw were from Tim Key, Nish Kumar, Sarah Millican, Rufus Hound, Cosmic Shambles (John-Luke Roberts, Jonny & The Baptists, Josie Long), Gary Delaney, Papa CJ, Alex Horne, Flo & Joan, Joz Norris, Ross Noble, Marcus Birdman, Adam Hills and family, Lou Sanders, Heidi Regan, Sophie Hagan, Daliso Chaponda, Phill Jupitus, Rosie Jones, Jessica Fostekew, Amy Annette, Colin Cloud, Piff The Magic Dragon, Adam Larter, Ed Aczel, Ben Moor, Nathaniel Metcalfe, Tony Law, George Egg, Tiernan Douieb, Vix Leyton, Bec Hill, Comedy4Kids, Yuriko Kotani, Ed Petrie & Oucho the Cactus, Thom Tuck, Pierre Novellie, Tim Fitzhigham, Helen Duff, Luke Wright, Matt Green, David O’Docherty, Dara O’Briain, Ellie Gibson, Sam Pamphilon, Stuart Goldsmith, Mark Olver, Deborah Frances-White, Jon Richardson, Laura Lexx, Luke Rollason, Arthur Smith, Alexis Dubus, Helen Duff, Shappi Korshandi, Jen Brister, Jayde Adams, Alexander Bennett, Ted Hill, Rhys Nicholson, Lulu Popplewell, John Robertson, Lesley Ewing Burgesse, Barbara Nice,  and Richard Vranch (if I have missed anyone, apologies!).  The show had an online audience of over 1000 people watching at times during the day and Instead of tickets, a ‘pay what you can’ system was put o place in the form of donations.  Over £37,000 was raised on the day and is be split three ways, between @FareShare (a fundamental food charity), @HospiceIGNet (which creates funds for hospices, who are in danger of being forgotten about), and @nextupcomedy Heckle The Virus fund, which supports comedians who have seen all their work unfortunately dry up for the foreseeable future.

In October 2020, Watson and his crew returned for a second 24 hour online event The Watsonathon II which this time raised over £32,000 on the day for two charities: one for comedians (which is supported by this blog): The Comedian Support Act (www.comedysupportact.org.uk) and the second, Turn2us (www.turn2us.org.uk) which is a national charity helping people when times are tough.  With Watson once again hosting, the show had a Halloween theme (being broadcast 30th to 31st October) and featured a mock honeymoon in Vegas, games, quizzes, interviews, auctions and general mayhem. The showcase of comedians and household names included Tim Key, Sophie Hagen, Alex Horne, Judge Rinder, Flo & Joan, The Great British Bakers, Katie Steggles, Leslie Ewing Burgesse, Jessica Fostekew, Guy Kelly, Tim Minchin, Amy Glenhill, Adam Larter, Melissa Riorden, Tiernan Douieb, Jay Foreman, Andrew McLelland, Yanni, Pope Lonergan, Sooz Kempner, Richard Vranch, Olaf Falafel, Rufus Hound, Tim Fitzhigham, Tim Vine, John Luke Roberts, Olga Koch,  Joz Norris, Wendy Wasson, Jordan Brookes, Alison Spittle, David O’Docherty, Abigail Schumann, Phil Nichol, Vix Leyton, Esther Manito, Adam Hills, Dara O’Briain, Joy Lycett, Marcus Birdman, James Acaster, Will Duggan, Matt Highton, Heidi Regan, Robin Ince, Jessica Thom, Allyson June Smith, Maureen Younger, Jen Brister, Boothby Graffoe, Colin Cloud and a wonderful last minute appearance and song by Ali McGregor.

You can donate by clicking: https://donate.watsonathon.com.  The online shows were a triumph and I am planning to see a future live marathon on stage with the great man and his team whenever than will be possible.

Watson appeared online at the Next Up Comedy Festival in July 2020.  He was brilliant with the audience and was hysterically funny talking about his experiences of coping with lockdown and trying to write comedy.

Watson is a true comedy pioneer and in my mind is one of the best comedians currently working.  He has a talent for making any situation funny and is an extremely popular comedian.

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