Comedian Mark Watson embarks on a new tour this autumn, playing auspiciously to towns and venues beginning with his initials ‘M’ and ‘W’. We caught up with Mark prior to his date at Farnham Maltings.
So your new tour will take in places specifically starting with ‘M’ or ‘W’ – your initials – a unique premise for tour locations – what’s the story here?
It is quite a silly premise really. I normally tour on quite a huge scale, the last one I did was 80 dates or something. This tour is kind of in between tours and on a much smaller scale, and there’s no way of getting around as many venues as I normally would. So I had to divide the country up somehow.
It started almost as a joke, I said, “I could just go to places that match my initials” and when we started thinking about it there are far more than you think and loads of places that I hadn’t been to on tour before. We weren’t even sure if we were being serious ourselves but I started asking people online for M and W suggestions and before we knew it we had 30 or 40 venues. So it might be that I spend the rest of my career just touring certain sections of the alphabet.
Have you got a favourite word beginning with ‘M’?
I’m fond of the word Marsupial, like Kangaroos and Koalas and things like that. We never really get to say it in this country. Unless you’re working in wildlife conservation you probably never would. It seems a bit of a waste in a way because it hardly ever comes up – really satisfying to say. But as I said, such a limited use.
And what about ‘W’?
Well I like the word ‘wanging’, like Welly Wanging. Occasionally someone says “just wang it over here”. I feel like that’s also underused as well, but having said that, that’s become a bit more popular in recent years. I feel like more people say “wanging it” than they used to so maybe it’s on the way up. Again it’s one of these words that deserves more.
What can audiences expect from the new show? What’s on the agenda?
Because I’m between tours I’ve got the option of doing some of the material from the last tour, which people generally wouldn’t have seen, because most of these venues are new ones to me. But also, I’m looking to develop as much new stuff as I can. Because most of them are new towns to me, I’ll also have some fun with the areas themselves and try and make the shows a bit specific. It should be a real mix actually. I’m going to try and keep it as different as I can from night to night.
Sometimes on a tour when you’re touring a more theatrical show it becomes really hard to mix it up between nights, but on this tour I should basically be able to do what I want because there’s no plan beyond just following the letters of the alphabet around the country. People do get jaded doing similar shows or the exact same show night after night, whereas if you’re really playing around it can make touring much more enjoyable for yourself and that does translate into a more fun night for the audience I think.
Have you ever had the pleasure of playing in Farnham before? Any memories?
I have yeah. It would have been a few years ago, I’m not completely sure when the last time was but I’ve certainly played there a couple of times before. There used to be, there probably still is, a regular night at The Maltings.
I played there with Russell Kane at one of his first ever gigs, when he was a newcomer and he was so nervous that he punched a wall backstage beforehand. He used to get massively hyped up, so that’s my main memory of The Maltings – watching a lunatic beating up the dressing room wall, but then he went out and was incredibly funny. Even that was 8 or 9 years ago, so I’ve been to the Maltings a few times. It’s a nice place to come and it’s not far from where I live in London, so it almost feels like a home gig which is nice.