Laughter Lines: Mark Thomas

Fondly referred to by the Metropolitan Police as ’general rabble-rouser’ and ‘alleged comedian’, the very same Mark Thomas has found time over the last twelve months (in between his endless touring in both the UK and New Zealand) to create yet another masterpiece of a show entitled Trespass.

Mark’s previous solo shows have all gone on to have sell-out runs, garnering the highest of critical acclaim, snapping up awards and nominations and earning commissions to become their very own BBC Radio 4 series.

Andy Howells recently put questions to the stand-up comedian.

What made you decide you were going to become a comedian?
I am genuinely terrified of the prospect of having a proper job of any kind, especially physical labour and I will do nearly anything to avoid that fate. I think that was the motivation to being a performer.

If you hadn’t become a comedian what would you be doing?
The bloke who turns the go/stop signs on building site entrances.

Who are your comedy heroes?
Dave Allen, by far the most undervalued genius of comedy. Totally original, free thinker, radical and unafraid of his own beliefs. It is only because the family have not released DVD’s of his work that he is not wider known and recognised as the real godfather of alternative comedy.

What’s the funniest experience you’ve had while touring? 
I was mailing a friend this morning who used to be my tour manager, she is 5ft tall and used to work part time in London Zoo.

Once she was supposed to drive me to a gig in Bath and then back home. She managed to arrive late in an old Triumph car, the only way the speakers worked was if I physically held the wires together. She took us on a wrong turn, down a narrow country lane, where we find a sow and her piglets running around in the middle of the road. My tour manager does a screeching handbrake stop. All 5 foot of her jumps out and starts trying to herd a large pig and her offspring, while I sit in the car with the Dead Kennedy’s cutting in and out on the stereo.

We arrive at the gig late. My dressing room is the same room as the pole dancing studio, so students of dance cavort up and down a pole while I try and write out a set list and get ready to go on. On leaving the venue I say to my tour manager ‘mind the car keys as you open the boot’  ‘why?’ she says just before she dropped them down a drain. We had to lift up the manhole, borrow a ladle from restaurant, a broom handle and some gaffer tape from the venue and dig out the mud  to find them. She now runs the Mangabey Monkey conservation programme in Ghana.

What can you tell us about your new show?
It is about public space and private companies taking it over, it is the normal mix of stand up, stories, activism, journalism and a dash of performance art. it is marvellous.

What makes you laugh? 
Anything bad that happens to Piers Morgan and Donald Trump.

  • Catch Mark Thomas at The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff on February 2. Call 029 2064 6900 for ticket details.
  • Andy Howells is a freelance writer. A version of this Q&A appeared in The South Wales Argus on January 1, 2016.
  • For more information on Mark Thomas, visit his official website.

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