Ref NoBSUCA/OD/1/49
CollectionOliver Double Collection
TitleMark Thomas interviewed by Oliver Double
Name of creatorDouble, Oliver, 1965-
Date01/05/2012
Duration1hr. 07 min. 30 sec.
Extent1 sound disc (MiniDisc) (80min)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format (BWF)
DescriptionMark Thomas interviewed by Oliver Double, 1st May 2012, by telephone. This interview was conducted by Double for his book 'Getting the Joke: The Inner Workings of Stand-Up Comedy', 2nd Edition (2014) .

Summary: [00:04] Recording begins, Mark Thomas is in the middle of watching Jonathan Corden. [01:00] General friendly chat, Mark Thomas just got back from Australia.
[01:13] Talks about doing a show about his ill Dad’s relationship with opera for the Royal Opera House, [08:18] opera singers start belting out Brindisi.
[09:08] Chat about £9,000 tuition fees, [11:04] chat about the post-war Labour government under Clement Attlee, the NHS. [12:25] Mark Thomas quotes an analogy about austerity from Caroline Lucas. [13:05] Mark Thomas talks about his interest in micro-finance from Bangladesh, [13:28] A professor in Rajasthan told him about how Dalits survive a drought. [15:30] Mark Thomas brings up Fair Finance in London run by Faisal Islam. [17:57] Mark Thomas says it’s an interesting way of looking at the economy, different from classic Marxist traditions.
[18:30] [Interview proper starts] [18:40] Oliver Double asks Mark Thomas (MT) about comedy being an outlet where you can share ideas and change people’s minds. [20:29] Oliver Double asks MT about the Manifesto Show he did on radio in 2009, “It’s The Stupid Economy”. [21:18] MT disproves the stereotype of preaching to the converted in political comedy and art by saying that every show would have suggestions to reinstate capital punishment. [22:28] MT talks about the fault-lines in the audience, he discovered a lot of his audience were the populist Question Time audience. [25:37] Oliver Double brings up a gig in Canterbury Kent he saw of Mark Thomas where there was a lot of “casual racism towards asylum seekers”. [27:25] MT says that because consistent ideas are thrown up a lot at his gigs he gets to think about them, [27:33] such as MPs shouldn’t get paid, despite MPs being paid money being one of the six things the Chartists called for. [28:11] MT says his shows are good opportunity to challenge and slap down “reactionary and knee-jerk” ideas. [35:50] MT disputes the idea that the audience wrote his show despite their participation, because he crafted a structure and came up with the questions. [36:50] Oliver Double asks MT what kind of impact political comedy can have. [37:45] MT cites the example of the HIV/AIDS crisis and the way people’s attitudes towards homosexuality changed when people did gigs for the Terrence Higgins Trust and humanised the tragedy.
[40:00] MT discusses the phrase “preaching to the converted” used to denigrate political performers, describes it as an “inane” observation. [41:42] MT asks what is wrong with “preaching to the converted” anyway. [42:27] MT says it’s a criticism often raised against the left and that no one accuses Jim Davidson of “preaching to the converted” in a similar way. [44:00] Oliver Double talks about Margaret Cho’s response to the “preaching to the converted” criticism. [45:18] Oliver Double asks about research and how important it is. MT admits he knew very little about the banking crisis, so for one show he gathered together and interviewed people from different backgrounds, academics, economists, bankers, politicians, trade unionists, new economic thinkers, micro-financers, experts in mutual, and ask them what was going on. [46:30] Hugh Wilmott expert in mutuals, the role of deregulated building societies and investment banking in the “tsunami of debt”. [47:29] He used the film It’s A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart as an example to communicate the concept. [48:52] Oliver Double asks MT how comedy has changed in recent years, such as the significant rise in conceptual solo stand-up shows. [49:37] MT says that being influenced by Berthold Brecht as a theatre student has always played a part in his act, as much as Lenny Bruce and Dave Allen. [50:19] MT says that originally people went to see alternative comedy because they hadn’t seen it on TV, such as The Iceman, Chris Lynam, and Paul Merton. [50:45] MT says that now people tend to see comedy if they’ve seen it on TV, he discusses the rise of the panel show as the “triumph of the mediocre”. [53:35] MT describes the big O2 gigs as being like “prog rock”. [54:23] MT talks about the reaction to mainstream comedy, Josie Long, Isy Suttie, and Tim Key. [55:24] MT describes the comedy fringe in Edinburgh as a comedy marketing conference. [56:09] In the midst of that is the Free Fringe with Stewart Lee, Daniel Kitson, and Simon Munnery on the stands, who are consciously going against the mainstream. [56:54] MT refers to Jimmy Carr as “the Phil Collins of comedy”. [57:18] MT talks about the lack of funding in theatre being partially responsible for the rise of radical ideas in stand-up comedy. [58:33] MT talks about Steven Wright. [59:27] MT says that people like Tim Key and the New Art Club are using techniques from performance art, Daniel Kitson is very theatrical [01:00:11] MT talks about Alex Horne and the Horne Section. [01:00:25] Paul Provenza and his set list rewrites impro shows. [01:01:02] Oliver Double was talking to Josie Long, who said she has made use of the internet and podcasting to build her audience. [01:01:30] Oliver Double asks about more theatrical shows like MT’s own Walking the Wall show being more expensive.
[01:07:23] Interview ends
Notes1 MiniDisc, digitised to LPCM wave 24 bit 44.1kHz. Digitised using Sony Minidisc Deck MDS-JE53; Roland Edirol UA-25; Audacity 2.1.0. 2015-05-20.
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU. Access is available via digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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