Elementary, Watson

23 April 2012 | 4:58 pm | Danielle O'Donohue

British comedian Mark Watson reveals he's "pretty anal"

British comedian Mark Watson has a way with words. If you've ever been to see him perform stand-up you'll probably agree. While that might sound like an odd thing to say about someone who gets up onstage for a living and talks about things, his talent isn't just for stand-up.

Watson is also a published author of three novels and a book about his battle to become more environmentally aware.

Ask Watson about the beautifully crafted wordplay of his shows though and he claims it's more of a happy accident than an inordinate amount of time spent rewriting his sets.“I don't really craft the language of the shows or even consciously 'write' anything; I just focus on content and hope that I express myself properly,” Watson explains.

“If it comes out sounding careful and thoughtful, that's because I am pretty anal about the way I speak in general conversation – although not so anal that I avoid using the unhelpful word 'anal'. In everyday life I'm constantly rephrasing things, breaking off halfway through sentences, revoking statements. Some days I don't get through a whole sentence.”

It begs the question then, does Watson consider himself a comedian who writes or a writer who is particularly good at stand-up? “I'm a writer who has successfully posed as a comic for a fair while now, because the public seems to have more appetite for live comedy than for books (or most other things). Having made some headway in the joke department I managed to sneak my way back into being published.

“I'm now in a pleasant situation where I can do a bit of both. I'd miss the adrenalin if I didn't have the performance component of my career, but on the other hand if I staked everything on comedy I'd be a basket case, because comedy is stressful and I'm probably too sensitive to be well suited to it.”

With his first stand-up DVD out, Mark Watson Live, it seems a perfect opportunity to ruminate on the nature of his audience and ask Watson what makes him an attractive entertainment option for people looking for something to watch on a Friday night spent on the couch.

“If you think for any length of time about complete strangers watching you as their fun for the evening, it's very strange indeed.

“But then in a way it's strange that people I've never met buy tickets for my shows, or for anyone's shows, come to think of it. There are always so many other entertainment options, as your question painfully reminds us.

“What the hell are all you people doing with yourselves? Who are you, anyway? It's creepy.”

Creepy, maybe. But as an entertainment option Mark Watson is definitely a good one.