Mark Watson: The Infinite Show
If a sold-out Saturday night performance is anything to go by, Mark Watson is in absolutely cracking form with his new infinite show.
He also seems like something of a new man. Long, long ago, Mark Watson performed in tiny spaces as a terribly diffident Welshman. More recently, he has graced larger stages in the guise of a slightly less diffident Englishmen. Now, the Bristolian seems far more self-confident, presenting a different persona but remaining just as funny.
Before even entering the wide, welcoming auditorium, he has been preparing, asking audience members to fill in cards explaining something unusual about themselves.
This paid phenomenal dividends. Before even getting into his prepared script, the comedian had great fun in debriefing a 12-year-old local lad called Fraser who was the kind of character that comics must dream of discovering.
As Watson pointed out, generally finding a juvenile in the audience would act as a restraint, particularly on language, but since Fraser's problem was using "the C word" at inappropriate moments, this proved to be a rich source of hilarity.
Similarly, a man at the back with "the hamster-sized bladder" had an equally amusing effect, particularly when the beer swillers began to troop out towards the end of the hour.
Since his last full-scale Edinburgh set two years ago, Watson has been through what sounds like a painful divorce process and that formed the basis for much of his prepared set. In particular, the difficulties faced by his eight-year-old seemed very close to home.
At the other end of the generational scale, Mark's mum apparently knew the identity of the legendarily anonymous Banksy long before the world, much of the chagrin of a man who watched someone else make a six-figure sum by selling the secret to the papers.
Whether you have enjoyed Mark Watson for a decade or longer or come to this show as a Watsonian virgin, don't miss out on what must be one of the funniest shows on the Fringe.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher