As themes for stand up shows go, the information age we now live in is hardly what you’d call ground-breaking.
There isn’t a comedian in the country who doesn’t regularly make at least one reference to the internet, Google, Wikipedia, or social networking sites during their set. Although they’ll need to go some to beat Irish funnyman David O’Doherty’s brilliant gag from a few years back, that when you “finish” the Internet a picture of Bill Gates pops up on screen.
So it seems strange that Mark Watson should choose to build his latest show around such a well- ridden hobbyhorse. Like his assertion that he’s only just come across the word MILF, it almost makes him look off the pace and behind the times. (Though I did like his adoption of PILF for Kate Middleton).
Still, that’s the ground he’s chosen to cover for a show he’ll be taking on tour nationwide after the Fringe.
According to Watson the three main starting off points for the show were having his bank account cleaned out by an email scam; a spat with another comic,( oh ok, Frankie Boyle), that ended up with him getting abused on twitter; and the fact that a mortgage broker turned him down for a mortgage after Googling him and deciding being a comedian wasn’t a secure job.
“Information is everywhere, running at some pace,” says Watson as if we needed to be told. To prove it the audience have been invited pre-hand to send him texts, as well as during the show, which he takes in his bedraggled, neurotic stride,(he gets heckled from someone who isn’t even at the show), but still feels like padding.
To weigh up the pros and cons to humanity of this advance in information overload, and how to protect his son from it, he meanders back and forth on riffs from having to provide postcodes to book a cab, to how even brands of processed ham have hotlines looking for feedback, (from drunk lonely comedians holed up in grim hotels mostly), and yearning for the good old days when you actually learned stuff rather than just looking it up.
There is some very funny material here in a show with mixed results, just not sidesplittingly so: Watson being caught out pretending he’s a zookeeper: trying to buy just one carrot, and ending up being quizzed whether he wants to buy the latest harry Potter DVD.
But the central premise of whether all this information is good or bad for us is blurry and never really resolved. In the end he just about comes down pro. Perhaps just too much information overload? That said there is a treasure hunt in the show, so plus points for that.
Mark Watson: The Information, Assembly George Square, until Aug 27. Tel: 0131 623 3030