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25 hours: let’s do stuff!

A week ago I announced the rash intention to perform for 25 hours, a full and potentially ruinous hour longer than the day-long shows with which I made my name. In case you missed this blog (though you can scroll down to it pretty easily – they can do anything these days), the gist was that I’m doing it for Comic Relief, to mark their 25th anniversary and make them a bit of money and try to create a memorable festival of human cooperation/tiredness. I asked if people could get involved by undertaking their own 25-hour challenges, to run either in or alongside or in parallel with the actual show – which is at the Pleasance Islington, in London, over February 28 and March 1. I also asked whether anyone actually wanted to, you know, watch it.

So, all good news. Firstly, lots of people said they’d show up and maybe even last the course – but where, they understandably asked, do we get tickets? If I hadn’t been an idiot I would have mentioned ticketing in the blog itself, or even waited until the arrangements were formal, but I am an idiot, and we just have to work around that situation. Luckily, some non-idiots are patiently working on the logistics. It looks like tickets will be on sale on the Pleasance website, on the morning of January 31st. I will do some reminding on this blog and on Twitter and suchlike. Interest levels have been considerable so far, and I speak as someone who has experienced quite the opposite in my time. So, don’t panic, but if you are thinking of coming, you should be in a state of hawk-like readiness on that day. If you’re wondering how much they’ll cost, what the deal is with buying a day-long ticket versus dropping in, and so on… I am too. It will all become clear over the days to come. But the likely answers (not in order) are: tickets will be sold as 25-hour tickets, and then if you leave during the event for more than a certain length of time, someone else can take your place by buying on the door – the same system we have used before. And it will probably cost about £25, with some concessions. Which is quite a lot, but the thing is, it’s £1 an hour and it is for DISADVANTAGED KIDS. And it will feature QUITE A NUMBER OF WELL-KNOWN COMEDIANS who are already signed up but whose names I can’t reveal until Comic Relief say I can.

There’s the prospect that people doing challenges as part of the actual show (i.e. physically in the room) will get in for free, if they can get at least a tiny bit of sponsorship, but this again is the sort of thing you have Meetings about. We will of course do all possible things to make sure everyone who wants/needs to be there, is there. But – unlike in previous marathon shows where I’ve charged about 40p and let most people in without even paying that – I am this time keen to raise funds on a grand scale. Right. That’s that unpleasant aspect of proceedings covered.

Now. This will be more fun. We have had, already, quite a number of tremendous offers of challenges. By offers I mean anything from ‘I will certainly be doing this difficult thing, and have arranged some sponsorship’ right down to ‘well, I guess I COULD conceivably attempt something I haven’t worked out yet’. People in the first category will be getting an email very soon, so if you pledged to/vaguely hinted that you might take on an eating, drawing or bathing challenge, get ready to regret. But there were also dozens of emails and blog comments in the second category. So I have come up with – obviously – 25 things I’d like to happen, which nobody has volunteered for yet.

Some of them are things you could definitely attract sponsorship for; others, I’m not sure you could, but they’d be valuable components of the show. Some are designed to happen in the venue, others could be done in your office or prison cell.

If you fancy trying your luck at any of these, or if you have any other idea for something you could attempt over 25 hours – especially, but not exclusively, something you can ‘monetize’, to use a word which I’m afraid has passed into the language – then the email address to tell us is:

You can, of course, also leave a comment here as usual, but you will probably just get a message asking you to email the address anyway. Because I’m trying to keep things reasonably orderly until the day itself, when they will become utterly chaotic.
Right, the list. And I stress again, these are just ideas. I doubt we will get all of them. Feel free to add your own suggested variations.

-SUPER BOOK GROUP. 25 people read 25 books over 25 hours. Obviously not everyone can read every book, but we work out some sort of system and the group meets periodically during the show to chat. This is already being planned and will happen at the actual Pleasance, most likely. Would you like to read for 25 hours straight? Let us know.

-UNLIMITED TEXT BINGE. A lot of people have unlimited text messages these days. Could you text for 25 hours? Start by texting everyone in your phone book, then meet other contacts through them, and see how many text conversations you can hold simultaneously. Catch up with people you’ve not spoken to forever. Make entirely new friends. I’m quite excited by this idea. It might not be directly sponsorable but you could do something like mention casually to everyone that you’re fundraising, or direct them to other challenges, or something.

-FRIENDSHIPS. Similar to the above, but with more tools at your disposal. How many new people can you get to know, using Facebook/Twitter/actually going out and meeting people? How many meaningful friendships can you form? This would suit someone who’s a bit bored with their own social circle but lacks the impetus to find a whole new one.

-ORDINARY DAY. Again, perhaps not something people would want to sponsor, but we’re looking for some people to do nothing other than stay in touch with us and report back the details of their normal days. This is purely for the fun of having someone in the outside world, as we gradually lose touch with it. In particular anyone from abroad would be great.

-MASSIVE FOOD. You see these people sometimes on the news and stuff, who’ve made a Yorkshire pudding the size of a building or a hot-dog as long as a station platform or whatnot. I want a bit of this action. Could you and your friends cook something appallingly big? Or an incredible number of one foodstuff, like buns? But especially massive food. GIVE ME MASSIVE FOOD. You’ve got 25 hours, remember. You could marinade. You could slow-cook.

-SWEAR BOX AND POLITE BOX. Swear too much? Run a swear box for 25 hours. Get other people involved. Quite repressed, don’t swear enough, maybe brought up religious or just feel wrong saying rude things? Run a reverse swear box where you’re penalised for being too polite. See how it feels to liberate yourself. You’ll find it feels fucking excellent.

-HOBBY! Take up something new, become proficient in it over 25 hours, and ideally demonstrate your prowess late in the show (having shown early in the show that you don’t have a clue about it). For example: unicycling, magic, some form of dance, some martial art… you know. Hobbies. We will help you by trying to match-make you with someone who knows how to do it.

-SOULMATES Back in the first one in 2004 and in subsequent shows we ran a Lonely Hearts game, based on Blind Date, but nowadays it’s called Soulmates. The principle is the same, though. Are you looking for love? I’m quite serious about this (I’ve had two successful proposals at my shows, by the way, and am responsible for at least a couple of other relationships). It’ll be a couple of weeks after Valentine’s. Do you want to go through that all over again in 2014? No. FIND LOVE IN THE SHOW. If we can create a couple or couples, we will arrange for you to go on some sort of date and report back to us. Or – if we get enough, we could even try a mini-speed date. All applications for this will be handled sensitively.

-LET’S LIST. Sponsored list-making. You could either produce a stupendous number of lists in 25 hours, or perhaps more enticingly just write one, astonishingly long, list. When people say ‘the list is endless’ they are normally exaggerating. We might just be able to change that.

-SPOMPLIMENTS. Sponsored compliments. How many people can you cheer up in 25 hours by giving them a nice compliment? Even if they find out that you’re doing it for charity, does it matter? Probably not; they’ll still know that you think their henna tattoo is pretty. I think this could be a rewarding exercise for all concerned, including the complimenter. Helping people is known to boost your own contentment levels as well as theirs.

-TALK TALK. I will be talking for (more or less) 25 hours. Can you? You don’t need a big audience in a room. Can you have a rolling conversation with a number of different people, or deliver a virtually uninterrupted monologue (including calling us, obviously, now and again), or just yammer on into a Dictaphone until you pass out?

-GOOD OLD THINK. Similar to the above, but the opposite. How about having a good old think for 25 hours? Some of what you think about might be fundraising ideas which you can put into action. At other times you might just reach insights which you can share with us.

-A-BEGGING I WILL GO. Among other things, an event like this is an exercise in blagging. Lots of times we will need people to go to this business, that institution, even perhaps that celebrity, and quite simply try and get them to give us stuff. It won’t be asking for money. It will be more, can we get some breakfast for people who’ve been in a room for 17 hours? Or can we persuade a sports shop to donate a trampoline so someone can raise £100 by bouncing (below)? This would suit maybe two or three friends who are reasonably ballsy and can keep each other company and ultimately have a useful CV entry.

-DO THEY KNOW IT’S (NOT) CHRISTMAS? Remember Christmas? Yes, we’ve just had it. How would you like to celebrate it all over again? You wouldn’t. It would be awful. The whole point is the once-a-year thing. But I’m looking for someone to do exactly that, for sponsorship. You have to really go for it: Christmas dinner, carolling. Might suit someone who didn’t have a very good Christmas and is looking for another crack at it. Or someone who just bloody loves it.

-INVENTATHON 2013. Are you one of these people who are always saying ‘why doesn’t someone invent…’? Spend 25 hours brainstorming ideas for stuff which should exist, but doesn’t. You don’t necessarily need to know how to manufacture any of it. We will try to put you together with technically-minded people and perhaps even find someone for you to pitch the best idea(s) to.

-SPONSORED SPONSOR. We haven’t quite worked out how this would work, but someone ideally will be sponsored to sponsor as many other people as they can.

-MONOPOLY BUT IN ACTUAL LIFE. Self-explanatory. Two people or two teams race around London, aiming to visit every Monopoly property (sending back photographic proof). I did this myself years ago, with my sisters, purely for fun. And believe me, it is fun. I am hoping to get someone rich to sponsor this by making a donation to Comic Relief on behalf of the winner, or something.

-THIS’LL BE THE DAY THAT I DIE (SPONSORED SING). Can you – on your own or ideally, for your sanity, with a group – sing the same song for 25 hours? No you can’t, it would be awful. But you COULD. I think there is a breakable world record for this, as for some of these others. I was thinking ‘American Pie’ would be great because it’s pretty long, so you’d only need to sing it maybe 220 times over or something. Of course it doesn’t have to be the same song. Singing anything at all for 25 hours would be remarkable. It’s just there’s something very funny about it being the same song repeated until it became near-unbearable. This is the kind of stunt we could probably get widespread sponsorship for, by publicising it as we went along.

-HELPING HAND. In a similar vein to some of the other ones here, and easy to achieve wherever you are. Can you charge people say £1 (or whatever) to help them with anything of their choice? Almost everyone alive needs some sort of help with something every day. You wouldn’t even need to charge – you could make it a ‘voluntary donation’ and then guilt-trip the hell out of them. Up to you.

-BACK ON THE CHAIN GANG. Something here for anyone who definitely can’t make it to London. A couple of years ago on this blog, I gave away an iPod as a competition prize and sent it round the country, via dozens of readers who each added a song, until eventually it found its way – loaded up with music – to the lady, Anna, who’d won it. I would like to replicate this in 25 hours by passing some sort of object down the country via a series of transactions between strangers. Any suggestions welcome.

-SLEEP. In one 24-hour show a man called Guy slept for the duration. Anyone?

-BOUNCEBACKABILITY. If you’ve been to one of my shows recently, you’ll know of my fondness for bouncy castles. Either on a bouncy castle, or on a trampoline, what is the longest you or yours can bounce for? COULD IT BE 25 HOURS? We might well be able to supply a bouncing thing if you come to us. Or you can do it freelance on your own terms.

-GAMES. Games. 25 hour darts. Or pool. Or badminton. Anything. You like games, right? Why not play one for just over a day, then? Exactly. There’s no reason why not.

-25-HOUR SHOW. Failing all this, just do your own 25-hour show. That’s what I’m bloody well doing.

So, as I mentioned, a few of these could probably end up being actual official Guinness World Record attempts, and (unlike previous marathon shows) this whole thing will be tracked and recorded so you could actually end up making a piece of history. As well as money for the poor. Good? YES. AMAZING.

Do it, then.

Do something. Fill one of these vacancies or come up with something entirely different.

Go on.

That address, again, is

I mean it. Ta.


34 Responses

  1. Misha says:

    Cathy and I are planning to knit in shifts for 25 hours.

    (sponsor us here?

  2. Cathy Penrose (traineeflorist) says:

    Eeeeep!! That is all :)

  3. Misha says:

    Oh and if anyone wants to take up a new hobby, i’m happy to teach knitting and crochet during the show.

  4. Joe says:

    Hi Mark. This is a great idea. I have an odd suggestion, a 25-hour guitar lesson! I could probably get a couple of other people on board to teach and people could drop in and out as it went on. Let me know if this is of interest and I’ll actually think a bit more about logistics for it! Maybe we could get in touch with a celebrity guitarist to help out, since no one knows me from Adam. It’s just a thought :-)

  5. Rachel Allen says:

    I’d love to learn how to knit. I have no skill or knowledge in that area so I may be a bad pupil

  6. Jonny says:

    Alright you bugger. I’m in. I’ll do the blagging for things!

  7. So yeah. I’m going to have to do something apart from make all those blasted paper versions of myself, aren’t I. So I was thinking I’ll do what I’m good at.

    25 hour sponsored tweet-along. If I average 20 tweets an hour, people could sponsor me 1p per tweet and that’d be a fiver. It won’t be easy, I’ve got lectures to go to, but since when has watsonia been about easy?

    Also, Joe, have you thought about guitar-learning chinese whispers? You teach people a song and a few chords for half an hour, then they half to teach someone else and so on. At the end of the show, you can all play the song together and see how it sounds.

  8. Lydia Furzey says:

    My name’s Lydia, aged 46. I have a piano in my living room which came from a distant relative, also called Lydia. Now I, nor anyone else in my house, can play the piano. I’d love to learn how to play over 25 hours. Anyone up for training me – Somerset based. Cheers x

  9. Rose says:

    Misha! I offered to knit too and received an email reply saying I would be put in touch with a couple of others with a similar idea – I imagine this could be you….We may be forming a knitting party!


  10. Cathy C says:

    This is all rather exciting! In still torn about whether I can afford the day off work for this, but I guess I’ve got a week or so to decide. Otherwise, I’m more than happy to be an ‘ordinary person’ for you to keep a hold on reality with. The dullness of my day at work might as well provide some entertainment for someone.

  11. Cathy Penrose (traineeflorist) says:

    Hi Rose, yep that’s us! Join the party and give your friends and family the link

    We also have quite a few other girls on board for this, but no boys. Why is that?!

  12. Holly says:

    I’ve sorted out the JustGiving page for my poem writing challenge.

    I’d better start warming my brain up now, as my usual output is about one poem per fortnight!

  13. Robert. Wilson (@comscot) says:

    I will host. A 25 hour improv day night if other Scottish comedians will participate in Glasgow

  14. Rose says:

    Hooray Cathy and Misha? Is that official then? Can I join you? This would also be an amazing opportunity to brush up on my knitting skills – I can do the usual knit, knit, knit and ribbing if I concentrate….But by the end of this effort I’ll be cabling all over the place!

    Will get on with the sponsorship asap!

    (I don’t know any boys that can knit…there must be some, but where are they…?)


  15. Claire says:

    Well since I live in Edinburgh, doing anything in London might be a bit tricky. But I would be more than happy to be one of your ordinary people. Unless anyone is doing anything in Scotland similar to this?


  16. Cathy Penrose (traineeflorist) says:

    Maybe we can have a “teach the boys to knit” session. Apart from Mark. He has funny hands. Apparently. According to one of his audience members once. Lol

  17. Amy says:

    I quite fancy learning to crochet. I can already knit (not very proficiently) but have absolutely no idea how to crochet. So I’m thinking I could make it a learn and then make a thing in the space of 25 hours kind of a thing. I’m hoping to come to the show, so Misha will be on hand to help me out if I get stuck. Is that any good d’you reckon? I’m also well up for getting involved in some kind of blind date/ speed dating type business if you need volunteers for that!

  18. Zoe Fell says:

    Every single one of these suggestions is fantastic and fills me with absolute joy.

  19. Mr Ydir says:

    No blog for ages then come back with this brilliant idea and then lots more good ideas, I think quality is better than quantity.

    Lots of great ideas I should be able to help in someway, just need to have a think and chat to Mrs Ydir.

    I have never attempted knitting and really doubt I have the hand eye co-ordination to knit anything at all, but I can suggest a group who do very cool things with wool, such as knitting clothes for statues and a knitted supermarket there website is and well worth a look, a particular favourite is the pyjamas the knitted for a Carry Grant statue which is under April 2012

  20. Katie K says:

    Holly Burns and I are planning to write poetry for 25 hours, still have to learn to set up the sponsorship page and would be great to have some extra people or pop-ins throughout and poetical suggestions are most welcome, there’s only so much happy stuff you can write, before it gets a little bit depressing, lol. Kx

  21. Rachael says:

    I am so excited about this. February can’t come soon enough.

  22. Nicole says:

    I’m happy to write terrible rhyming things (poems) for 25 hours – although they won’t be very good, and will be full of forced rhyme. But by jove if its for charity I’ll do it!

  23. queenie martin says:

    I have a little group who love a challenge. We are thinking of something challenge annekaesque. Looking for a charity project which we can complete in 25 hours, something like renovating a community centre or something similar and then putting on a little show.

    Do you thinks this could be one of your “Lets do stuff” things?

  24. Funny Fecker says:

    I have emailed! Hurrah! Patiently waiting for a reply.

  25. Corey says:

    How about if i went on 25 dates in 25 hours. I’d need some help rounding up that many victims but i’m up for it. Could maybe have a 25hr show wedding on your hands if one of them went well!?!

  26. Cathy C says:

    I’m hoping to manage to get tickets to this, now I’ve made sure I can get the day off work. So wondering if I can combine one of the challenges with actually being at the show – I’m considering list making as I’m a bit of list maker anyway! It might be a nice way of cataloging the show too – maybe a list of all the different challenges that are going on, or a tally of how many times Mark say the word ‘sponsor’ or something like that? Any thoughts?

  27. [...] a few weeks ago, Mark Watson funny man posted a blog about how he wanted to do stand up for 25 hours to celebrate 25 years of [...]

  28. Dan Ellis says:

    Is there anyway at all to get 2 tickets?

  29. Katie says:

    Wow, the ideas for challenges sound fantastic! I’m very sad that I won’t be able to attend the show or donate, but I’ll try to show Red Nose solidarity over here in Sweden in some way. :)

    Fingers crossed you all make it through 25 hours of fundraising fun!

  30. [...] ruinous hour longer than the day-long shows with which I made my name,” Watson wrote in his blog last [...]

  31. [...] ruinous hour longer than the day-long shows with which I made my name,” Watson wrote in his blog last [...]

  32. [...] ruinous hour longer than the day-long shows with which I made my name,” Watson wrote in his blog last [...]

  33. [...] ruinous hour longer than the day-long shows with which I made my name,” Watson wrote in his blog last [...]

  34. [...] the 25 hours. You can send your ideas to Watson wrote a blog about here, where he details more 25 hour marathon [...]

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