Marathon Man

Tomorrow I’m taking part in Mark Watson’s 27 Hour Show for Comic Relief. I keep telling people I’m not sure why I’m doing such a ridiculous thing, fully aware that taking part in an event for that long without sleep or rest is hard enough without the added troubles of doing ridiculous challenges throughout. I have no idea what horrible and probably demeaning tasks I’m going to take on or help with over the course of the show, nor what sort of state I’ll be in when I do a solo children’s show on Sunday in Winchester after two days of no sleep. I have said again and again that I’m a complete idiot for signing up to any of this, and have been playing the victim card as though I’ve been co-erced into everything. In reality though, I’m completely 100% sure why I’m doing it.

This will be the 4th marathon show I’ve done with Mark Watson. The first being some years ago in 2008 when he was in Melbourne, hosting the show from there, and myself and a bunch of comedians did our own London version, live linked to them via Skype. I wasn’t there from the beginning as I’d had to gig in Norwich, but this did mean I had also been up the entire time everyone else was. I walked into Dan Atkinson and Terry Saunders trying to reenact the Max Mosley sex scandal incident but as a ‘comedy sketch’ and bizarrely thought I should stick around. I have vague but brilliant memories of our global Olympics where on of our UK team won by balancing 5 spoons on her face, of a surprise visit from Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) who came to read us a children’s story he’d written and oddly of being dressed up like Anthea Turner to host the morning part of the show. I made some great friends that night/day and the feeling of elation as our small but sturdy band of non-sleepers did the final countdown as us and Melbourne finished at the same time.

The next show was in Edinburgh in 2009 where again, I didn’t make it for the start but for some reason, when I did arrive, they happened to be looking for ‘small things’. I boasted that I wasn’t very big as a person. This was used against me as they decided to check how small I was by seeing if I could fit under a shelter made of someone’s (I think it was Brendan Burns’s) large Edinburgh poster. I could. I was then told that was now my home, I was the show’s pet and I had to stay there till the end. Luckily I was upgraded to a cardboard box at some point which made it slightly better. Again I have hazy memories of helping host Blind Date with Simon Amstell, Mark trying to unicycle, me getting the whole audience to do an electric boogaloo, Paul Foot arriving 3 minutes before the end, then leaving again before midnight, and us holding Mark aloft as it the clock struck 00.00, as he promised it was his last marathon show.

Then two years ago Mark announced he would be doing a 25 hour show, this time for Comic Relief. It was nice that it now had a charitable purpose, regardless of how you might feel about the charity in question, it sort of gave it all a greater sense of being. I foolishly agreed to get custard pied in the face, on the hour, every hour, while trying to learn the piano. I didn’t learn the piano. I did get so many pies in the face it glowed red raw for three days after. Krishnan Guru-Murphy came to read us the news, Zach Braff mentioned us on a BBC interview, Emma Kennedy lived in a tent and kept bringing us news on celebs that might appear, a man watched Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 on a loop to near insanity for the whole show, two men hugged for the entire thing, two people piggy backed, one person had continuous dates, Markus Birdman did an amazing mural, Adam Hils got someone on the Last Leg, Rachel Riley threw a pie in my face, everyone Harlem Shook/Shaked, and Jonathan Ross gave £10k to Comic Relief for me to dive face first into a castle made of cake. Oh yes, and Rufus Hound smashed eggs with a hammer attached to his penis while dressed in kingly robes. And so so so much more. It was unbelievably exhausting and yet the most fun you could have. The sense of community in the room was unmatchable at any gig I’ve been to before or since and joy of call backs, jokes and completed tasks that we were all in on and involved with was immense. On top of all that, we raised over £60k for Comic Relief which is pretty good going.

It does concern me how quickly I’ve agreed to do another one. I received a text saying ‘Would you be up for having a fucking awful time again?” and instantly responded with ‘Yeah definitely!’ like an idiot.* But I can guarantee that whatever happens, there won’t ever be another gig like it.  There may some tough moments, everyone is going to get extremely tired and I have no idea how my kids show in Winchester will be on Sunday. But mostly it will be brilliant fun, an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait to see what Rufus Hound will be doing this year. I know exactly why I’m doing it and I’m excited and chuffed to be part of it again.**

If you want to watch what happens but couldn’t get a ticket, it’ll all be streamed live on 

You’ll be able to tweet us using #watson27. See if you can manage the whole 27 hours too and help us from afar! If you’d like to sponsor me and my ridiculous efforts, you can do so here:

See you on the other side!


* Oddly it always seems to be people called Mark who are able to bribe me into these sorts of things with very little effort. See also Mark Thomas and comedy promoter Mark Makin.

** I’ll regret saying all this about 12 hours in.



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