Two weeks from now I will be around 17 hours into my stand-up show for Comic Relief; maybe 19, or 22, depending on when you read this – but in any case an awfully long time, I think we can agree. Much longer than you’d ever want to do comedy for, or probably even WATCH comedy for. But that’s exactly what is going to happen.
I will probably have had the same clothes on throughout. I will have had minimal access to my family, to fresh air and toilet facilities, to the outside world in general. My voice will be all buggered. I’ll be like the idiot you get at a party who rants on and on while everyone else crashes out on sofas. I will have lost, as they say, my marbles.
I’ve put various pleas for help up here, and help has indeed been forthcoming. We have people doing a dazzling range of sponsored challenges and it is shaping up to be a fairly spectacular, messy, great/awful event. But I now need to ask for one more chunk of help, the most basic form of all. That’s right: money.
Ooh, it’s a filthy subject isn’t it. It’s not mentioned between gentlemen. Never a borrower or a lender be. Or maybe it’s ‘neither’.
Anyway, to hell with all that. This is Comic Relief. They support desperately poor families across the UK and in some of the world’s most impoverished spots. They provide food and water and medicine and shelter for people with unimaginably hard lives. Oh, you know all this. It’s Comic bloody Relief. Right?
So here’s the link. Anything you can give me will be enormously gratefully received. I’m going to start with a modest target and work up, hopefully. To put it in context, someone already has £400 to get hit in the face with a custard pie every hour while learning to play piano. Am I going to be outdone by a goon like that?
Please sponsor me. I know I’ve occasionally troubled you like this before, when I ran the half-marathon for my sisters’ charity, and so on. Or when I went to Senegal for Action Aid. But rest assured, after this I will shut up. Sponsor me now and I promise not to do anything public-spirited or in any way kind for the foreseeable future.
You can help by going to this address (it also takes you to a place where you can set up your own challenge, if you’re still keen on doing that). I will see all donations so I can honestly claim I’ll love each and every person who chips in. Unless I have a pre-existing grudge against them. But even then, I’ll put it aside.
This is going to be quite difficult. Your support will help enormously. And more to the point, help people you don’t even know. Thanks.
As you might have gathered from tweets or from news or from angrily refreshing your web browser, tickets to the 25-hour show sold out in four minutes. This commercial success makes me think perhaps I should tour with a 25-hour show next time, but the implications of doing fifty of them back-to-back probably need a bit of thinking through. So for the moment there is only this last chance to squeeze in to the ludicrous events which will take place at the Pleasance Islington, between the end of February 28th and midnight of March 1st. We’ve managed to make a very small number of extra tickets available by overriding some old fire regulations which were only getting in everyone’s way. These will go on sale on Thursday week, but there’s going to be an element of fortune involved once again, what with computers sometimes not working and sites going down at crucial moments and people having to work. So I wanted to give deserving individuals a chance to stake their claim.
Which brings me back to the main point of the show: sponsored challenges for Comic Relief. Since I last appealed for people to do this, we’ve had some spectacular offers. We now have – to take just a few examples – two of Countdown’s greatest players going head-to-head for 25 hours, in the world’s most horrendous word-marathon ever; an entire school spending the day teaching a curriculum of 25 lessons which we will dictate; two men on stage throughout hugging 25 hours for a Guinness World Record. Incredibly someone is busking in London for 25 hours, linked to us by camera and phone. One lady is using the venue to conduct 25 dates, another is going to try and achieve 25 life aims with the audience’s help. And there is quite a lot more besides, as I’m keeping some of the best stuff secret till the show itself.
All these quests are being sponsored, with the money going to the excellent causes Comic Relief works for (here and in Africa). Making this – and you know I wouldn’t use this phrase lightly – one of the year’s biggest day-long charitable fuckfests.
But I still want more.
So, of the remaining handful of tickets, I’m going to keep some back for people who want to volunteer to do something sponsored actually in the venue – or coming and going from the venue to an appropriate location. In my last blog I made a load of suggestions, about ¾ of which were taken up, but I don’t want to be too prescriptive, because some of the best ideas have come from people out of the blue.
Don’t worry too much about how you’d attract sponsorship. There’ll be a central page on Red Nose Day site where everyone will have their own little challenge profile – this should be set up on Thursday – so you’ll have the chance to reach a lot more people than your immediate friends and your kind aunt Susie who already sponsored you £50 to go to Peru that time. Focus on the challenge itself. Go for something interesting, ambitious, maybe a little stupid. Something you’ve always wanted to get around to in life, but could never justify it. YOUR JUSTIFICATION IS HERE. Something you could never achieve by yourself, but might be able to with the support and resources of a large number of tired people.
(But also, don’t be put off by the thought of being the centre of attention. There’ll be a lot going on, and whole challenges will probably be forgotten about for chunks of around 18 hours as my brain turns to papier-mache. Anyway, I’ve kind of signed up to be the centre of attention myself.)
Now, if you’ve thought about this – maybe you’ve thought about it long and hard every time I’ve put a blog up – and you’re still pretty convinced there’s nothing you can do, and you’d really rather watch and cheer for 25 hours (which is perfectly valid, and indeed rather crucial to proceedings)… that is absolutely fine, and as I said, there will be still be a window to buy last tickets on FEBRUARY 21st, a week before the big day. I will blog again the day before, to remind you.
And even then, the very last five-or-so tickets are going to be eBayed, in the hope that someone like Sheikh Mohammed thinks ‘shit, I’ve not sorted myself out yet’ and panic-buys one for £70,000. But you don’t want to wait for that. You don’t want to go up against the Sheikh. Trust me.
Get in touch at email@example.com (rather than leaving a Comment here).
There’ll be further blogging about this as the day approaches, which, alarmingly, it sort of is already. Back to my training regime. See you soon.
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.
That address, again, is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I mean it. Ta.
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.
If you cast your mind back to a blog I wrote last month, you’ll recall I was trumpeting the possibility of two big book-related events, wedding-themed and quite silly, to promote the novel THE KNOT by me (Mark Watson), released last week and already the third-biggest selling book in history after the Bible and that one about bondage. Some of you were in Edinburgh and saw that I was as good as my word. We got a church, a string quartet, even a wedding car the same model as the one the book’s narrator drives, and we launched the hell out of the bloody novel. If you go on my Tumblr site (not my site; it’s about me, though) you can see pictures of what clearly goes down as Literary Larking About. We also had canapes in Waterstone’s. Not everyone can say that.
We come now to the second part of my grand plan: the London launch. This will take place on WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19th at 6pm and 7pm. The 6pm bit will be at St Giles-in-the-Fields Church, in Central London (WC2, sort of Bloomsbury area). I will do readings from the book, crack some jokes or remarks, basically it’ll be like a comedy show/wedding/literary salon crossover. At 7pm we then saunter over to Waterstone’s on Gower Street where there is free food and drink and I sign copies of the book, and people hang out, perhaps replicating the sort of small talk you get at weddings (didn’t she look beautiful!; what a shame about the weather).
The 6pm leg might suit people who are not doing a job, or not one that keeps stringent office hours. The 7pm section is ideal for ‘coming straight from work’ plans. Together they should form quite a memorable evening. Maybe – just maybe – the best evening of your life. But it really does depend on what else you’ve done so far and how well it went.
If you are interested in coming, and are on Facebook, there’s an ‘event’ page you can sign up to below. If you’re on Twitter, you can send an RSVP to @watsoncomedian. Or you can of course leave a note on this blog, or shoulder-check me in the street and announce ‘I AM COMING TO YOUR EVENT’. It would be great to see some of you there (‘you’ being the general public, but I’m thinking particularly of the loyal people who read this blog and support things like my books and life). Also, keep checking back here because there’ll shortly be a competition to win copies of the book itself. What is, in fact, being called the biggest book/blog tie-in competition since the one I did for ‘Eleven’ two years ago.
Right. Facebook event here. Sign up! Tweet me! LET’S GET EFFUSIVE ABOUT THE PROSPECT OF THIS THING HAPPENING.