Mark Watson, Melbourne Town Hall

Acerbic, acidic and often gleefully nasty, Mark Watson starts off his show with an ‘I’m-out-to-offend-anyone’ attitude. Yet his negativity left me wondering: is offending people a good thing in itself – or should it be subordinated to some higher goal? I’m not sure if the cruelty of his humour was always fully warranted.

Watson had some great material about the confusions of being a gay teenager. Yet he seemed to lay it on a bit thick at times – for example, I’m not sure his story about a rather stressful sexual encounter with a woman in his teens had to be told with such palpable disgust. Comedy is about truth, but it’s also about breaking with convention – and the ‘gay man’s terror at sexually insistent woman’ gag is nothing if not conventional. Perhaps it should have been jettisoned in favour of something more interesting.

Still, there’s no denying the speed of the man’s mind. One of the show’s real pleasures was watching Watson fling out choice asides about whatever popped into his head moment to moment, then seamlessly returning to the main theme. Not many comedians can do this – some simply get lost, while others fail to consider whether their impromptu quip is going to be funny before they come out with it. But with his burbling mind and vicious wit, Watson kept the focus sharp in a tight show.  TR

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