Review: Mark Watson - I'm Not Here

Thuy On

Bespectacled Englishman Mark Watson is in some respects the quintessential stand-up.
Review: Mark Watson - I'm Not Here

A rambling, skinny, bespectacled English fellow, Mark Watson is in some respects the quintessential stand-up with his melange of ad hoc and prepared comic material.

English by nationality, self-deprecatory by nature, Watson has the sort of free-wheeling verbal diarrhoea that means he has to appoint someone in the audience to act as watch keeper to ensure he doesn’t go over his appointed time. (With so many diversions he just manages to keep to it). There is a loose subject matter to his latest show but before we get to that, he riffs and improvises on wide-ranging subject matters, or as he calls it, 'dicking about for 15 minutes'. There’s the obligatory and shameless insertion of local Melbourne and Australian references for topicality sake, but among the mix there’s commentary about his suspicion of those with long-sightedness, his love of alcohol, his struggle to be a cool single dad, and even a particularly hilarious spin on that goddawful Right Said Fred song, 'I’m Too Sexy…'


Whether rubbishing England’s shite winter weather compared to Australia’s warmer climes, taking the mickey of our own national obsession with cricket, or pointing out that not all publicity is good publicity, he has an easy affability to him, that even when he makes an embarrassing faux pas with an audience member mid-heckle, he is easily forgivable.

Watson’s nondescript appearance means he is not easily recognised, which leads us to the actual premise of his show: the struggle to prove his identity: to officious bank bureaucrats but particularly on a traumatic journey here three years ago, where he had to battle with immigration protocols on both ends of the trip when there was a problem with his passport.

The hour passes quickly and you get the feeling Watson could easily and happily carry on for another.


Mark Watson - I'm Not Here
Melbourne Town Hall until 9 April

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
28 March - 22 April 2018

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Thuy On is a freelance literary journalist and critic and the books editor of The Big Issue.