New Times,
New Thinking.

16 June 2010

An experiment in democracy

Want me to visit your town? Then vote for it!

By Mark Watson

Here’s a bit of fun and a chance to shape the world, or rather, one evening of my life and yours.

This follows on from my tour blog yesterday, in which I proved that every single show on my forthcoming tour is unmissable. Since the dates were released, a lot of people have said: ” . . . but what about . . . ?” “Why aren’t you coming to . . . ?” and so on. Some of them said it about places like Norwich, pointing out they’ve been among my most loyal fan bases over the past tours. Some said it about vast swathes of the country that aren’t really being served. There’s no doubt the itinerary has been oddly planned in some ways, for reasons I can’t go into without some public finger-pointing. There are clumps of shows in some areas; none at all in others.

So, I’ve decided it makes sense for me to go to the places that are hungriest for it. Accordingly, I have added a couple of Norwich shows, at the Playhouse — should be on sale on their website. Then the other day, I went on Twitter and asked people where else they thought had been foolishly left off the tour schedule. I’ve now talked to my promoters and we are officially taking a vote.

I will choose two or three “REQUEST STOPS” and add shows there early in 2011 as part of the tour.

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This has been done before by a band, I think (can’t remember who), but possibly not by a comedian. Well, it probably has. But still. Request stops. Like one of those trains that occasionally stop places with short platforms, or like . . . Well yes, you get it. Quite cool, eh?

The rules:

  1. About a third of the tweets I get on the subject say “Why aren’t you playing . . . ?” about places where I AM going. So, worth checking that first. The dates are located here.
  2. You can nominate a town (say Northampton), or an area (North Wales) or even a specific theatre (like, say, one in Kendal). You could even, in theory, nominate your house, school, prison or secure unit. However, I have to feed my family so I will probably be looking for capacities of more than 100. And less than 2000.
  3. Priority will be given to places that convincingly make a case that they’re overlooked geographically, but it’s not all about that. I might choose one or more of the places just because I’ve never been there and they sound nice. So even if you’re in a town that isn’t all that far from an existing show, feel free to pitch it if you’re confident in it.
  4. It has to be in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, for this tour, otherwise I’ll end up going Plymouth-Brisbane-Andover and the tour will become even more logistically tricky than it already is. I will, however, be touring Australia and New Zealand, and probably playing some shows in New York/Canada next year, too. So, again, feel free to talk up these places. Especially because it boosts my ego to have fans in other countries. And I miss Australia very much.
  5. Oh, one other thing: you need to be fairly confident not just that you are really keen to see a show in this place, but that it would sell well. You are not, of course, legally or even ethically responsible for this. But the point of the exercise is to do justice to keen but under-comedied places. If you can quote evidence of successful comedy shows there in the past, or prove that, for example, there is a statue of me in the town, etc, that will help.

Here are the towns/areas that have been most heavily nominated on Twitter (not that you have to stick to these, but worth knowing): Northern Ireland; North Wales; Aberdeen; Inverness; Cornwall; Northampton; Milton Keynes; Peterborough; Bath.

So let’s go! Leave comments. Spread the word, as well.

Oh, one more thing. Two people yesterday asked if I come out after shows and say hello to people (one of them was a youngster, named Jack; hope you’re reading this, Jack). The answer’s yes, I always do. Comedians are pretty lame people.

Cast your votes, people who don’t live near Birmingham! (Because there are already a few in that area. Not because I hate Birmingham. You understand.)

This post originally appeared on Mark Watson’s blog.

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