Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas by Steve Ullathorne

Mark Thomas is pretty much a comedy legend. He’s been around for three decades and is as busy and vital as ever. And unpredictable. Just as you think you have him pigeonholed as a satirist he goes and does a brilliant personal show such as Bravo Figaro! This year he is back with Cuckooed, a show about betrayal that is both personal and political. We won't say more, but there is a review here from his acclaimed Edinburgh run if you want to know more. Cuckooed comes to the Tricycle Theatre from December 1 - 13, details here, but before then you can see Thomas (picture by Steve Ullathorne) in a benefit he has organised for the Kurdish Red Crescent, who are co-ordinating aid for refugees on the Syria/Turkey border who have fled from Isis and the attacks on Kobane. The gig is at the Bloomsbury Theatre on November 23 and also features Nabil Abdulrashid, Jeremy Hardy, Nadia Kamil, Tim Key, Josie Long, Mark Thomas,  Andy Zaltzman. Tickets here. 


1. What is the last thing you do before you go onstage?

Check my flies. Deep breath.

2. What irritates you?

Irritation is a mild emotion - not one of the big seven: pride, envy, hatred, compassion, greed, lust and love - but here are some things that create that most peevish of feelings:

Comics who complain about left wing media bias and censorship after they have had 4 series on the BBC.

Litter and the people who leave it.

The Today programme.

Anything about Piers Morgan.

My dog's failure to comprehend English.

Peter Capaldi as Dr Who.

The rise of retro shops over charity shops and the price of waistcoats.

The fact that charity shops look the same.

Getting retweeted by twats.

My failure to find an alternative to the Today programme.

3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?

Fly a hot air balloon over a US listening bass and nearly crashing into a water tower.... Deciding to walk in the middle of the Israeli barrier illegally accompanied by an over confident ex Israeli solider.... Taking on the Hinduja brothers (richest men in UK) over selling military equipment to Sudan and watching Newsnight editors self-implode with legal doubt... Put my house up as surety in a court case.... Take your pick. Once you have done these things they just become stories. Good stories but still just stories. It's all in the past tense.

4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

Personally: To disregard the love given to us by others, I am guilty of that.

Work: The decision to build a career on burnt bridges, the waft of smoke follows me into each new project. The longest standing work relationship I have is with a box of Swan Vestas.

5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy?

I thought alternative comedy was counter cultural, so when I started I never envisaged I would be asked to do a voice over for Canesten, the thrush cream.

Though what performer wouldn't delight  in being asked to play the soothing voice of rash remedy. The offer was politely turned down but  I occasionally wonder how much money it was worth to be known as the crutch-rot-cream-guy.

I think Arthur Smith got the job in the end, though I think he sounds more like the rash.*

Click here to read more RAQS from Mark Thomas. Go on, there are some corkers about meeting Martin Freeman, money and what part he thinks luck plays in comedy careers.


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