A couple of days ago I invited people to pose me questions on Twitter. The ‘FAQ’ section of this site is a bit out of date, and also, dare I say it, slightly facetious in places. There were quite a lot of tweeted questions; I answered some of them individually, such as favourite dinosaur (T-Rex, but I wonder if I’ve just been swayed by its publicity) and what I do before going on stage (text people, drink wine, and go to the toilet as there isn’t always one on stage). The most popular questions, I have collated and will try to answer here. I realise this is a highly self-indulgent exercise but people did ask these questions, after all. It would be more self-indulgent if I’d invented them purely so I could answer them, like the supposed FAQs political parties have on their websites (‘So, is it true that the Conservatives are ahead in the polls?’ ‘Glad you asked, Greg. Yes, it is.’)
Anyway, the very nature of a blog is self-indulgent. That’s why it’s a very popular activity. We all like ourselves, don’t we? Mostly.
Will there be any more 24 hour shows?
The short answer is probably not. The longer, more sneaky answer is that I’ll probably do one more, in about four or five years’ time, as a kind of comeback. The main thing with having a good idea is that, if you don’t kill it off while it’s still good, it becomes a rather sad shadow of a good idea. Deal Or No Deal, for example, was a good format for a game-show, but if you ever see it now, people are chanting things and Noel is normally dressed up as a Greek god and you fear for everyone’s mental health.
Or to use a more Edinburgh-specific example, Late And Live was once a great Edinburgh Event; now it’s a horrid gig where tired people shout at more tired people until they’re all asleep.
But the lure of reviving the idea, at some far-off point in the future, may get the better of me. Until then I’ll undoubtedly conjure up some other tiring, stupid Fringe projects. And I’m also thinking about using this blog to set up a long-term project which continues the spirit of the 24-hour show. More news on that soon.
Why did you once have a Welsh accent, and now you don’t seem to anymore? Was it fake? Or is it your real accent, and you’re faking it now? I mean, what the hell is the matter with you?
The ‘Welsh business’ has been a constant source of awkwardness throughout my career, for reasons which are entirely my fault.
In short, as most people now know, I am not really Welsh. I do, however, have a Welsh mum, Welsh family, lots of links to Wales, and huge affection for Wales and Welshness. And a little bit of a natural Welsh accent. When I started doing stand-up, it seemed wise to exaggerate this massively in the hope of not feeling too much of a twat. If you’ve ever listened back to your own voice on tape, and thought ‘Christ, do I really sound like that?’, you’ll appreciate how toe-curling it can be to talk into a microphone and how desperate you are to feel that it’s not really you. Changing your voice a bit is invaluable for this. This is why, for example, people like Graham Norton present weird hyper-versions of themselves to the cameras, or more bizarrely John Barrowman uses a fake voice in his actual life.
But the Welsh thing became more popular than I thought: I never imagined I’d get on TV, for example, when I started. I saw myself bumbling along forever doing the Welsh persona in clubs and no-one minding. Obviously, as I’ve started to appear more in public using my more moderate, less sing-song voice, people have found it odd to listen back to the old recordings of me sounding around three times as Welsh as Max Boyce multiplied by Neil Kinnock. So I’ve phased out the Welsh accent pretty much altogether.
Speaking in my ‘normal’ voice on stage has been, and is, the hardest and most terrifying challenge of my career. But it’s probably a choice between that and having some sort of multiple personality disorder by the time I’m 40. And who ever heard of a comedian with psychological problems?
What Is ‘No More Women’?
It’s a spin-off from We Need Answers, which Tim Key and I invented in 2002 as a game to play when we were rehearsing our two-hander (which was called ‘A Few Idiots Who Spoil It For Everyone Else’, and featured a scene where Key wore a dress and tried to kill me). It’s now been adopted by the BBC and you can find it if you search the BBC Online site. It’s easy to learn the rules and, without wanting to go too far, we are confident it will replace football, chess, fishing etc and become the major sport/game/pastime of the 21st century.
What has been your favourite TV show to do, and what would your dream gig be?
We Need Answers is the most fun I’ve had doing a TV show, because nothing really compares to the satisfaction of seeing your own idea come to life, and having complete creative freedom – to paraphrase Sinead O’Connor very loosely. Also, we get to drink booze and sing songs. My dream scenario TV-wise would probably be to host World Cup coverage, continue We Need Answers, and once a year star in a special edition of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow in which I am all four acts and Michael McIntyre.
Who is your favourite comedian at the moment?
Aside from Key and Horne, I suppose Daniel Kitson. Or Lee Mack. Or Dara O’Briain. Or Milton Jones or Tim Vine. Rhod’s very good, as well. Chris Addison. This, unfortunately, is what happens every time I’m asked this question in a radio interview. I mention almost every comedian ever born until the interviewer puts a stop to it and says ‘well, thanks for joining us, Mark’.
Did you really mean it when you kept talking about how depressed you were about your book not being published, last year?
Yes, I was seriously upset by the whole business – the full story of which I will tell in another blog – and vented it in self-pitying fashion all over the internet. Sometimes I write all kinds of personal things on Twitter and forget that people like my parents, wife and to a lesser extent cat can read them.
But have you now written a new book which is available from Amazon here: tiny.cc/elevennovel ?
Yes. I’m glad you asked that. More, though no more subtle, plugging of the novel will follow over the next six months.
I’d better stop there. I hope this was of some interest to somebody. If anyone has further questions, I might make this a semi-regular feature (as in, monthly or something; I’m not suggesting I would get enough questions to do it, say, ten times a day). Put them in the comments section. And if questions are eccentric enough I will be forced to answer them even if they aren’t ‘frequently asked’. In fact maybe next I’ll do an ‘infrequently asked questions’ feature. Or I’ll really stick my neck out and talk about something that isn’t me. Imagine!