Travel broadens the mind as they say and after a full-on yet successful 69-stop tour last year, Mark Watson is bringing his new show to the Alban Arean this weekend. A seemingly minor problem at an airport forms the starting point of I’m Not Here, which spirals into an examination of identity in the digital age and a search for meaning in our lives.

“The show is structured around this journey to Australia where I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be allowed in at the other end because of a passport issue. The guy at Heathrow said ‘we can let you on the plane but it will be at their discretion whether or not they let you in’. The passport was totally valid but it had a tiny rip in the photo page, and this would technically render it invalid.

“It doesn’t take much of an incident to make me get an hour of nonsense out there. I’ve found an existential jumping off point from almost anything that happens in life.”

With 24-hours in the air before he would find out his fate, Mark had plenty of time to ponder life in the modern world.

“I started thinking about how we have fewer and fewer physical proofs of who we are. In the old days you wouldn’t have had a problem with this scenario as you’d have a plane ticket and dozens of forms of identity. The show has become about the shift from the physical to the virtual and the fact that more and more of the objects that we used to depend on have been replaced by ideas of objects.

“My general wish for this show is for it to be quite confessional in style. I’m starting to venture more into that territory. I’ve always had a lot of personal anecdotes, but it’s all generally been quite light. I think I’m gradually trying to tweak things towards darkness.

“I tend not to regard some subjects as off-limits these days, and I’ve probably got more confidence that the audience are more interested in hearing what I want to talk about rather than me desperately trying to think about what’s funny and going with that. Having said that, no matter how serious the territory you get into, the obligation is to try and get a lot of laughs.”

As well as lots of laughs, Mark intends to add a surprise element to his show to break the usual set-up of stand-up. In Flaws he recreated sounds from children’s parties to accompany a particular anecdote.

“I do like to seriously disrupt proceedings. I’ve always thought that an hour of someone just talking has its downsides, so my tactic is to get it far enough in that the audience do think it’s just going to be an hour of someone talking, but then do something really weird.

“It can backfire, though, because that thing with the kids’ party was fun for a bit. But then on tour, you’re doing it another 60 times with my crew having to blow up balloons and the routine ending with my nightmare of having them explode all around me. It’s all very well saying I am doing it to release this tension from my system, but it didn’t do anything of the sort; it just made me dread that moment more as every day went by. I can say with certainty that there will be no balloons this time.”

Alban Arena, Civic Centre, St Albans, AL1 3LD, Saturday, October 22. Details: 01727 844488