Interview - Mark Watson

By Londonist_ben Last edited 144 months ago
Interview - Mark Watson

Mark Watson is a comedian. You may have seen him on the box on 'Nevermind the Buzzcocks', 'Mock The Week' or 'Time Trumpet'. You may have heard his Radio 4 show, 'Mark Watson makes the world substantially better'. You may have seen him live, perhaps on his current tour of his show 'I'm worried that I'm starting to hate almost everyone in the world' or perhaps you attended or have heard of his legendary 'Seemingly Impossible 36 hour circuit of the world' at last year's Edinburgh Fringe which won him an if.comeddie award. Not into television, radio or live comedy? You may have read Mark's novel, 'Bullet Points' and are no doubt eagerly anticipating Mark's second novel, 'A lighthearted look at murder' which will be published in August.

As you can see, he is a busy chap. However, he has found the time to start a project 'Mark Watson is Crap at the Environment' that we blogged about on Monday. He also found time to answer some questions for us,

Introduce yourself!

Hello. I am Mark Watson, the comedian and author. I live in London with my wife. We have a cat and have just taken on a kitten. I'm just coming to the end of a national tour and am keeping myself busy with a little project to try to save the world. Quietly.

Just how crap at the environment are you and how good at the environment do you want to be?

Fairly crap. I do minor things like going to the bottle bank and not using plastic bags and so on, but I'm nowhere near as engaged with the whole thing as I could be. I'd like to get to a stage where I'm living in a way that doesn't cause any more damage than necessary to the planet, which at the moment is probably not the case.

Do you think most people are crap at the environment?

A lot of people in the UK are crap in the same sort of way as I am, which is to say that they're aware of a lot of the global issues and our responsibilities to do something about them, but either can't be arsed or don't know how to. The point of Crap At The Environment is to try and provide a way for people in that situation to make some sort of contribution.

What do you think about current environmental groups?

Most of them do great work, but a lot of them do it in a way that's either intimidating to the general public, or just leaves them indifferent. Some environmental groups (not all) are cursed with a 'holier than thou' attitude which makes it very hard for the average person in, as they say, the street to identify with them. If there is ever going to be a big sea-change in favour of environmental activism, I don't think it will be achieved by trying too hard to bully people; especially in this country, people are very resistant to anything that seems like preaching.

Also, most environmental groups are made up of people who are already Good At The Environment. CATE is meant to cater for people who already feel they've fallen a long way behind.

Is the environment really as important as the FA cup?

Yes it is, and I don't say it lightly. The FA Cup is still the greatest cup competition in the world, despite the constant carping of tedious pundits who insist it's 'lost its magic' and so on. But if we screw up the environment too much, in one hundred years we might struggle to stage the cup at all. Think about that.

Do you think comedians could have a role in persuading the public to go green?

I think comedians have a lot of power to persuade people to do things, in theory. In practice, it is hard to talk about the environment (or any other 'cause') without seeming like you're trying to abuse your position as a funnyman and become all pretentious. But it's still worth a try, I think.

Any tips for pimping our plant pot?

I'm actually shit at art so I'm not sure I can give you any advice. But what about trying to make it look like the London Eye? You could draw in little people and everything. It depends on the shape of the pot, I suppose.

How do you approach the idea that whatever we do now regarding the environment, we're ultimately doomed?

Well it's a bit like saying we're all going to die one day, so there's not much point doing anything with your life. It may be true but I think you may as well at least try to fight the inevitable. Like that poem by Dylan Thomas. Also, we don't know for sure - it may still be possible to do some good. It certainly seems fatalistic to just not bother because the battle may already be lost.

New projects seem to pop up every day, what is 'pimp my patch'?

It's an initiative to find a part of the country that's desperately in need of some plants- an urban wasteland - and pretty it up with amateur gardening. It's a spin-off from Pimp My Plant Pot because our chief planter Nicola is overachieving and needs something bigger to take on.

Should you pimp on other peoples' patches?

Only with their permission.

The events organised so far do look fun and certainly aren't harmful to the environment, but are they really helping the environment?

Well, these are very early days. Most of the stuff we're doing at the moment is just raising awareness and trying to establish a bedrock of support. Once we've got enough people behind the movement, it'll be possible to put some bigger things in motion (which we're already planning) and then, maybe, we will actually be able to help the environment a bit. It's all a matter of 'softly softly catchee monkey' for the time being.

Favourite part of London?

My flat. Also, parts of Hampstead Heath.

Best place to see comedy in London?

Up The Creek in Greenwich.

Which comedians would you recommend to Londonist readers?

Cowards, who are recording a Radio 4 series at the moment. For stand-up, Stu Goldsmith, who is supporting me on tour at the moment, and Lee Bannard.

What advice would you give to Ken Livingston?

Shut the Northern Line for a year, do everything possible to modernise it, then let's see if we can go a day without delays.

Last Updated 07 March 2007