Mark Watson recently completed another marathon gig, linked to this April's London Marathon. He explains more here...
Hi Mark. How's it going? We noticed on Twitter you recently had some cinema booking stress...
Yes, I was psyched out by one of these countdown clocks that says 'you have five minutes to complete your booking'. Five minutes sounds like plenty but if you mistype your long card number and have to re-enter it, suddenly it's going to the wire and I'd be looking at two disappointed kids who've missed out on the Lego Movie 2. Anyway: happy ending, I kept my nerve and booked them. And it WAS sold out, so thank God.
You performed a 26 hour-long live show last month, and it's not your first very long show. How much planning do you do on these things?
As always, it's near impossible to say what's going to happen. All sorts of shenanigans are planned, from someone busking every single Beatles song, to a girl living as a goat for the whole 26 hours, and most possible activities in between. With me standing in the middle of it all, just talking for ages. But these shows have a life of their own and are set up to go in unexpected directions. Once the fuse has been lit, I have only limited control...
Do you actually look forward to these long live shows... or, after the tickets have gone on sale, does the regret start to set in you've said you'll do that many hours?
It's a bit of both. In some ways these insane days are the bit of my career I most look forward to. At the same time, it is a pretty daunting prospect to prepare for, and as it gets closer it seems more and more ridiculous to have taken it on.
Once it starts though, it just sort of happens... it's too late to worry about exactly how stupid it was...
We remember one of your previous long shows which involved some nakedness! What are your personal highlights from the previous ones?
There have been so many - this was the tenth time. From the last show, Gillian Anderson shaving the back of comedian Tiernan Douieb with houmous (long story) was, in its own way, both a highlight and a lowlight. But a lot of the smaller stories are what really make it special - the people beavering away on demented individual missions, drawing or chewing for 26 hours.
Lowlight wise, we once had a contortionist come in, and he made everyone want to throw up.
How did this latest one go?
It's difficult to answer this question because it's almost impossible to be objective about it when you're actually in the middle of it. But yes, overall I'd say it went pretty well.
Over the 26 hours there are a lot of highs and lows, but the highs outnumbered the lows (just about).
If there's one highlight it's probably the Bradley Walsh Moment. There was a woman who made it her challenge to draw as many pictures of Bradley Walsh - in different situations - as she could over the entire day. We made it our ambition to let the real Bradley Walsh see this labour of love and eventually, about 20 hours in, we got him on Skype (in the back of a car, with a beer, on his way home from Wales). It was the sort of event that sounds trivial, and is trivial, but means an insane amount to a sleep-deprived and emotional audience.
How do you keep going for so many hours? Any 'stay awake' tips you could share?
As with a 'real' marathon, it's about breaking it up into small, manageable increments. A couple of hours at a time, then another couple.
Some people overdo it on caffeine or energy pills and stuff, but then the comedown is too severe. Over a period as long as this, it's about balance and rhythm. Basically tricking your body into accepting that this is all normal and fine.
You did an actual marathon last year. How did you find it?
Yes, in Berlin. It was an amazing experience to look back on... and mostly at the time, too - but with at least an hour of pure pain in the middle of it.
I am very happy that I've got it in the memory bank, but yes - even though a comedy marathon takes a lot longer, I think it's a lot closer to my skillset. Why I seem to be addicted to endurance challenges, of one kind or another, is maybe a bigger question, something I need to walk through with a professional.
This latest gig was organised in association with Audible. You released a podcast in conjunction with them as well, which is tied in with their audio Sponsorship of The Virgin Money London Marathon?
That's right: a 13-part series about the London Marathon, with a large cast of amazing comics (Romesh Ranganathan, Sara Pascoe, Harry Enfield, Sofie Hagen; about thirty of them in total). I wrote it all and each episode tells the story of two miles of the marathon.