Comedian Mark Watson on Flann O'Brien, Pulp and Chaucer

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, comedian Mark Watson

Comedian Mark Watson will play Belfast's Mandela Hall on Saturday November 5

1. When did you think about comedy as a career and what were your first steps into it?

It didn't really occur to me until towards the end of university. My way in was entering a couple of new acts competitions, one of which I was lucky enough to win. Even then though, there were quite a few years of travelling the country, doing unpaid gigs and competing with the noise of the fruit machine.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Radiohead at Gloucester Leisure Centre in 1997, Super Furry Animals in Port Talbot the year after and Tame Impala in London this year, on my birthday.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Pulp would be ideal, because there's a couple of big hits everyone knows, and after that I'd be the d***head requesting obscure ones.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?

Mahler's Complete Works because you'd get a lot more music that way, and over the years of solitude I could develop the sophistication for it. There's no point taking Funeral by Arcade Fire because after 3,000 listens you'd wear it out, and that would be a travesty.

5. And the book?

Chaucer's Complete Works.

6. Top three films?

It's A Wonderful Life, Citizen Kane and Goodfellas.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Becoming Jane about the pre-fame days of Jane Austen. The acting was good (James McAvoy) but it was full of ludicrous dialogue, and scenes where Jane would screw up her writing into a ball and throw it at a waste-paper basket. As soon as that happens in a film about a writer, there's no way back.

8. Favourite authors?

Sarah Waters, Ian McEwan, and Ireland's own Flann O'Brien.


9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

Football. I am a lifelong fan of second-tier side Bristol City.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Australia. But Japan is top of my 'to do' list, followed by India.

11. Pet hate?

Lack of empathy. It underpins virtually every problem the human race has.


12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Sausage and mash.

Dessert? Apple pie. With ice cream, please.

Drink? Red wine, quite a lot of it.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

Am I allowed to say my brother? Then the other half of the question is taken care of.

14. Is there a God?

I suspect not, but it is – in the words of Flann – a difficult pancake, and I'm surprised so many people think they've definitely worked it out.

:: Mark Watson is performing at Belfast's Mandela Hall on Saturday November 5, and Whelan's in Dublin on Sunday November 6.


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