Mark Watson on proposing on stage, mastermind and a fear of lightning
Comedian embarks on UK tour
1: Former Cambridge Footlights chap Mark Watson first cropped up in the comedy firmament in 2002. Then, at the tender age of 22, he won the last-ever Daily Telegraph Open Mic award, beating off competition from the likes of Hils Barker, Gary Delaney and We Are Klang man Steve Hall, while also taking the runner-up slot in So You Think You’re Funny. In the final, he held off Nina Conti, another Klanger Greg Davies, Rufus Hound and Rhod Gilbert but lost out to one Matthew Osborn.
2: At the end of his Overambitious 24-Hour Show during the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe, Watson proposed to his girlfriend, the comic and playwright Emily Howes, who was one of just 12 people present throughout the entire gig. And, thank the blazes, she accepted. The show had featured a game of Chinese Whispers, a blind date, existentialist debates, some readings from Watson’s debut novel, Bullet Points, and guest appearances from the likes of Jenny Eclair, Dara O’Briain and Stewart Lee.
3: Without being named, Watson cropped up in Stewart Lee’s show, If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One during a lengthy routine about the slogan ‘just give it to me straight, like a pear cider that’s made from 100% pears’. Stew claimed that the phrase had been a Lee family tradition for generations and thus was bastardised for the purposes of advertising cider. Of course, it hadn’t been a Lee family tradition, but he was moved to admit that he had admired Watson and was saddened by the ad: ‘The brand of Mark Watson, as a quirky young fellow who thinks deeply about things and wears a Socrates T-shirt, is compromised by being in an advert’.
4: At the end of 2009, Watson came second in a comedy special Mastermind with his chosen subject being the World Cup finals since 1966. Lucy Porter won thanks to her encyclopaedic knowledge of former comedian Steve Martin.
5: Watson has had a lifelong phobia about lightning, convinced that one day he will be struck down during a storm. One gig he played at an open-air festival put his fear to the test when it began pouring and rumbling, leaving him speechless and in a cold sweat.
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 26 Nov.