This Easter weekend sees the third and final piece in the jigsaw of 24-hour shows with which I’ve attempted to break up the – let’s be honest – somewhat trying times of this pandemic. (Three pieces is a pretty unchallenging jigsaw, you might say, but here we are.) In many ways, this one is reasonably similar to the hopefully memorable events that have gone before it. But because this one is part of the famous Melbourne International Comedy Festival, there will be a few differences, so I thought you might enjoy an FAQ. Not all of these questions will have been ‘frequently asked’ in these exact ways, but I believe that’s the case with any FAQ, to be honest. Sometimes you can really sense it. Anyway: below is a quick guide to what I like to think will be another worthy waste of a chunk of your life.
This is a ticketed event, this time, isn’t it? I can’t just jump on and donate?
That’s right – because it’s an official festival show, which is not a distinction we’ve had before. In fact this is the first long show to be part of a comedy festival since 2009, when I put on something called ‘Mark Watson’s Last Ever 24 Hour Show’, a title which isn’t exactly ageing well. The tickets are $18 or ten quid, which seems not too bad and probably compares favourably to what a lot of people have donated for the past two actually. And if you don’t have one yet, they are here:
But the thing is, I literally don’t have a tenner to do something like this, no matter how much I would like to.
That is absolutely fair enough, and a solution is at hand. A collective of public-spirited and clever people, of whom I am very proud, have been running a ‘ticket redistribution’ service for a little while now, to enable those with more resources to open the comedy door to those without. If you are able to pledge a ticket, or you want to request one from a kind anonymous donor, see below. More things in the world should work like this, by the way.
Why is it starting in the bloody morning this time?
Because it’s evening in Australia, that’s why. The hope is to bring together Watsonians, if I may use that quite old-fashioned term, from the two hemispheres under the banner of Melbourne’s festival, which is one of the highlights of the comedy year and which all of us stuck in this half of the world are desperately missing (for the second year running). Will it be very tiring and weird and then when it’s over it’s morning, and you’re essentially jetlagged? Yes. Is this what we sign up for with these things? As they say on Twitter these days: also yes.
So is it not a charity thing this time?
Not in the same way, no – there won’t be the incessant pressure to donate or bid £500 for a piece of paper with nothing but the word ‘PIG’ on it. Or the numbers-game element of ‘can we get to fifteen grand, can we get to twenty grand’ – which is fun and worthwhile but does make it into a bit of a telethon. At the same time, of course, I do want to take any opportunity to harness the unusual goodwill of these events for wider wellbeing. So if people make stuff that’s auctionable, or if there is an appetite to pay for things that come up during the show, we’ll put a portion of that to whatever charity Melbourne Festival nominate (still talking to them about this) and a portion to help the venue, who have survived without live comedy this long.
What? THE VENUE? Are you not in your house again?
What venue is it then!?
Nothing. It’s fine. You’ll see.
Why is it not on Twitch this time, by the way?
Partly because the festival have things in place to run shows and Zoom works for them. But also because this time I’d like to be able to see or hear some of the audience from time to time. However, the fact it’s Zoom does NOT mean it will be any less interactive in terms of…
Ah, this was going to be my next question.
Ok, do you still want to ask it or -?
I’m shy now.
Don’t be silly.
Well ok yeah. Is there less of an emphasis on the community all chipping in and chatting and all of that, this time?
NO THERE IS NOT. If anything, it will be more crucial than ever. The community around this show will be smaller and more tight-knit, because not as many people will just happen upon it, because of the ticket situation. So the energy will come even more than usual from you, the people getting behind the chat and making it feel like a real event. The collective of people who get involved in my efforts at creativity has grown steadily since May, when the first Watsonathon was, and it’s been a truly very heartwarming phenomenon and one of the most rewarding things to happen since I began doing comedy. So, you are very much needed.
Are you becoming sentimental?
No, YOU are.
See you there, then. Sorry I made it awkward.
Quickly before we go: do we have the bakers?
I wouldn’t be surprised.
And what are your tips on staying awake?
Don’t over-rely on caffeine. Or on energy drinks. Or on any one thing, in fact. Also don’t drink more than you can manage. Just keep everything as normal as it can be, try to con your body and mind into believing this is just another day, and accept that because of the loyalty you have shown to me, this IS your ‘normality’ now.
As I said, see you there!