Mark Watson’s Comedywealth Games come to town

Mark Watson

Mark Watson - Credit: Archant

Following stints at the Edinburgh Fringe, the comedian is bringing his chaotic, Olympic-themed show to London, finds Alex Bellotti

It’s a depressing sign of time’s progression when you consider next summer will see the Olympic Games return in Brazil. For comedian Mark Watson though, London 2012 still lies fresh in the memory.

Three years ago, the Crouch End resident was inspired by the occasion to start his own show, the Comedywealth Games, during the Edinburgh Fringe and this Monday it will make its London debut at Islington’s Pleasance Theatre.

Featuring a cast of comedians and entertainers including Rufus Hound, Romesh Ranganathan and Rick Edwards, it will see Watson lead the contestant through a number of madcap tasks in a night he describes as “comedy meets sports meets larking about”.

“I think one of the reasons the shows done well in Edinburgh is that the it’s unlike anything you’d usually see,” he explains. “It’s still funny people being funny but there’s no opportunity for them to do stand up at all, it’s purely them pissing about which does have a certain appeal.”

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With gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs, Watson, 35, adds that while no real sporting prowess is required, the show works best when contestants become genuinely competitive. Of the many games on offer, he picks out the The Admin Pentathlon as a particularly tense affair.

“That’s obviously a keynote event because it brings together almost a show’s worth of chaos in one go. Then there are the events that are much simpler, like trying to throw a piece of fruit onto an audience member’s head or the sack race, which involves an audience member getting into a sack with the contestants.

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“The audience as you can imagine are fairly heavily involved – having said that, I’ve generally got a rule in my comedy that I don’t try to force people to get involved in the way that comedians do sometimes because although it’s funny, it can be quite alarming for them!

Considering Watson recently completed a 27 hour marathon show for Comic Relief – “a long, crazy experiment” – there is certainly a variety to his comedy that constantly sees him searching for the next big idea.

While his current stand up tour, Flaws, will take up most of his time in the coming months, he’s never short of a few surprises and says his best advice for young comics coming up with a new project is to just get out there and do it.

“It’s the sort of thing you can only learn by doing it repeatedly. The theoretical side of it is all very well and I think you can do some courses which can be quite valuable, but ultimately I’d encourage anyone to just get on stage and do as much as you can.

“In London it’s pretty easy to do that – there’s a lot of competition, but there are so many shows you can do, open mics and stuff. So if you want to do it, there’s never really been a better time.”

Mark Watson’s Comedywealth Games runs at the Pleasance Theatre from March 9-13. Visit

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