Mark Watson: The Information, George Square Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Before this show the audience is egged-on to tweet, text and email information about themselves to Watson (aka The Hardest Working Man at the Fringe™) as fuel for his superfast broadband trawl through our ultra-connected modern world, where divulging details about your life on public forums is the socially acceptable norm.
He’s not here to damn the commodification of personal information, nor is it a cheap way to take the piss out of Facebook users or punters here in the auditorium – though their information is of course a springboard for interaction.
One of his (many) points is that here in this physical public forum with a bunch of people we can see and hear, those same people are vastly more reticent than they are online, where details of personal lives are gushed forth.
He ponders the ease with which it glides out of us, and illustrates the power that information has when amplified through the web: what would have been “a storm in a teacup” when Frankie Boyle made a throwaway remark on Twitter calling Watson a “c***” was covered as a news story in the ’papers, where Watson’s mum read about it and got upset.
There’s a running gag about his mortgage application to Nationwide Building Society being turned down because the person handling it discovered (from the internet) that he’s a comedian. He is now dishing out T-shirts insulting the naysaying mortgage adviser to people at every show, which they’ve to take to far-flung exotic places and submit photos of themselves to him which he’s posting on the web – including tonight a bride-to-be who will be taking hers on honeymoon, at the behest of her hen party.
Watson’s galloping narrative seems more stream-of-consciousness than it really is; the guy does his homework, and his aura of gabbling, fluffy indiebloke dishevelment belies a nimble intellect. Showing off his mental arithmetic skills is unnecessary, but funny (go on, 24 x 32 = ? If you can’t do it in under five seconds you’re not as smart as Mark Watson).
His is, of course, bloody hilarious. He apologises for playing up his half-Welshness to launch his career, there’s some Nandos banter with audience members creeping out to the loo mid-set, and he’s just very, very funny. Being smart as well is an incalculable bonus.
Mark Watson: The Information, George Square Theatre, Assembly George Square, 7.40pm, until August 27. www.assemblyfestival.com
Photo: Andrew McColl