Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Watson next?

The Festival is in full swing in Edinburgh. That's not of much interest to me because I'm on the other side of the world. But I notice things. And one of the things I noticed was Welsh comic Mark Watson doing a 36-hour session of stand up comedy. I say Welsh, because he does his stuff in a broad accent, although he apparently bungs it on. And I say stand up but I suspect that by hour 30, he'll be sagging.

He is a very funny man. I saw him at the Melbourne Comedy Festival this year and almost needed an oxygen mask because I was laughing so much I had difficulty breathing. I wasn't the only one. There would have been a big fight for the oxygen cylinder among the cyanosed audience.

Watson wrote a novel at the age of 23. (And it was published, which is even more impressive.) But that was years ago. Well, three, to be accurate. So now he's writing another one—with the help of his audience.

The novel-writing show is Watson's effort to synthesise these two strands of his work. It's another event that is uniquely Edinburgh, in which Watson reprises the work-in-progress to his audience each day, then solicits suggestions for the next instalment. So far he's got a story about a newspaper sub-editor who is mistaken for a secret agent. Watson has to write a chapter a day, which amounts to a great social-life sacrifice in Edinburgh, but he finds it worthwhile to explore "whether it is possible to write something by this unusual process". And is it? "There probably are quite sensible reasons," he says circumspectly, "why you shouldn't try to write a novel in this length of time."


Read more
The show must go on and on, Guardian, 15 August 2006-08-16

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