It has been so long since I wrote a blog, I’ve had trouble remembering how you even get into the website. A far cry from the days when I set out with the (silly) aim of maintaining a 10-year blog, and successfully put together a run of over 500 consecutive days. Actually, the ten-year thing was not so far-fetched: I plan to come back to this at various points up until my 40th birthday, and there may well be more periods of frantic activity like in the old days. As well as more periods of drought. Who knows? Nobody knows.
But at the very least I aim to keep this semi-regularly updated in the year to come, because I’ll be (a) not doing as much stand-up and (b) announcing a number of interesting projects made possible by the easing up of stand-up. Over 2011 and 2012, I (accompanied throughout by the extraordinary Jeeves-like figure of tour manager Giles Wakely) racked up 248 tour and festival shows, nearly all of them without a support act; not to mention all the radio shows and TV stuff and corporate gigs and whatnot. Not as tiring as a job on an oil rig or chasing criminals, but hard in its own way (if you came to the last two London shows, you’ll recall I was almost completely bonkers at that stage) and more to the point time-consuming. Can’t really complain about time being consumed by the thing that provides your livelihood/status in the world and so on, but the moment has come to develop other areas of my career a bit and see my family, friends, go to barbecues etc.
So, books: I’ve got an exciting piece of news – exciting for me, anyway – next week about the book I’m working on right now. It will come out in 2014, and even before then, the graphic novel which I’m doing with an illustrator will see the light of day. Yep. Two books next year. One the year after. Good. As I said, more on that shortly. And if you haven’t read ‘The Knot’, last year’s wedding-photographer-with-awful-secret saga, or if you have read it but think ‘that would have been better if they cut some of it and a guy from ‘The Green Wing’ read it very nicely to me’, it’s being serialised right now on Radio 4’s Book At Bedtime. You’ve missed less than half. Get involved. It’s at bedtime (unless you’re a student).
And now, the main reason I reconvened this blog. It’s time to give notice of something I’ve not done for a while: a MASSIVE, OVERAMBITIOUS, STUPID SHOW.
You’ll know that I have, in the past, been known to do 24-hour shows, even going to 33 and 36 hours on occasion. I’ve done five in Edinburgh and two in Melbourne, to be precise. They come up in every interview and they helped me make my name, and although I am constantly trying to change the subject, they’re probably the thing in my comedy life that I’m proudest of. Even the ones that were a bit shit for periods of up to 15 hours. They engendered feats of cooperation, created an atmosphere, and provided slightly hallucinogenic memories on a scale which I wouldn’t be able to achieve in a normal show.
I wound up the long-show franchise in 2009 with what now seems the prima donna-ishly titled ‘Last Ever 24 Hour Show’, thinking it was better to quit while ahead than to keep pulling off the stunt with diminishing returns until it became almost meaningless, like Big Brother.
It’s Comic Relief’s fault. You can’t really turn Comic Relief down. It is their 25th anniversary this year; they asked for a 25-hour show. Featuring challenges by members of the public and audience members alike, being broadcast on various radio stations and streamed online, and all in all making money for good causes. You can see it from my position: I’d be pretty fucking furious if someone else did it. So I’m doing it.
25 hours. Jesus. I’m getting too old for this.
This is what will happen. It will be at the Pleasance Islington (the Pleasance being one of the big traditional supporters of the long show), in North London, starting at eleven pm on February 28 – Thursday night – and going through till midnight the following day, that is, Friday 1st March. We wanted to do it on a weekend, but Comic Relief wanted a weeknight as it’s easier to get publicity and so forth, and, well, it’s their gig really. So as a compromise it’s going over a Friday. I hope this means interested parties might be able to swing a day off work a bit more easily. I don’t know why I’m assuming Friday would be any easier to bunk than any other day. I guess I’d know if I had a job.
I am looking for comedy superfans who fall into two categories:
1. PEOPLE TO COME AND SEE THIS GODDAMN THING. Although people are always able to drop in and out, 24-hour shows have traditionally attracted a hardcore of lunatics who watch the entire thing. It’s definitely the best way to experience it… if you have a day of your life when nothing else needs to be accomplished, that is. The record for ‘lifers’ is, I think, 112 or something. But we’ve always had at least thirty to forty. These people are the lifeblood of the long show. If you think this could be you, I want to know about you. (You do get to eat and leave the room for the toilet, by the way. And even sleep, if you want.)
2. PEOPLE TO DO CHALLENGES. The idea of this is not only to raise money by being sponsored to do the show and various things during the show, etc, but also to get people around the country doing their own 25-hour challenges. Sponsored silence, sponsored eating bread, sponsored shouting at strangers, unicycling, fudge-making, fact-learning, football-juggling: whatever. Outlandish/difficult/newsworthy is good, but it could equally be something very small, yet difficult for you. Something you could realistically do for 25 hours, even it has to be fitted around your normal work/uni day. We’ll help you to get sponsorship, too, by publicising them all together, so don’t be deterred by thinking all your friends are poor. There is no limit on the number of these, but I’d like to incorporate some of them into the show. This doesn’t mean you have to come to London – you can just be in touch during the proceedings. Have a think about this and either leave a comment, or tweet me (@watsoncomedian), or tweet the person whose problem the long shows are (@CorryShawComedy).
I will be banging on about this event every week or so from now until it happens, so keep checking back here. And please let me know if you could get involved with this, either watching or doing something divvy for charity. LET’S BE HAVING YOU! as Delia Smith once famously yelled. It wasn’t her proudest moment, but it worked. I’m hoping I might end up saying something similar about this.