New Internationalist

A word with Mark Thomas

Web exclusive

As he gears up for the Edinburgh Fringe, the political comedian spills a few beans to Jo Lateu.

Steve Ullathorne
Steve Ullathorne

Who or what inspires you?

My family. God knows how I lucked out and had this lot.

If you could banish one person from the earth, who would it be?

The new royal baby.

What is your biggest fear?

Death in a pothole.

Can comedy be a tool for political and social change?

Yes. Comedy is all about change. You talk to an audience and they go from not laughing to laughing. At its most basic, comedy changes people’s reactions and perceptions in a room. But you only have to look at repressive regimes and their desire to lock up comics to see how much damage good comedy can do. The last thing the despot can control is our laughter.

You’re a political protest pro. What issue is getting your goat just now?

You only have to look at repressive regimes and their desire to lock up comics to see how much damage good comedy can do. The last thing the despot can control is our laughter

Coalition attack on the poor, globalization, neoliberalism’s failure to even pretend to address the banking sector crisis, the demonization of the working class and division into deserving and undeserving poor, racism, anything that IDS [Iain Duncan Smith, current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions] says or does, and people who don’t clean up after their dog shit. You just need a plastic bag, for fuck’s sake!

Your new show is called ‘100 acts of minor dissent’. For those of us new to such things, what would you say is the single most important act of minor dissent we can do right now?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. But you can start by shouting at people who don’t clean up after their dogs and work your way up.

Having Walked the Wall in Palestine, have you hung up your hiking boots or do you have other extreme rambles in your sights?

Yes, many more to come. I am thinking of going along the route of the Mexican/US border.

Do you think humour is a universal language?

No, it is very specific, often the more universal the humour tends to be, the blander (see Mr Bean). The most intense and perfect joke would be between two people which no-one else gets.

What would you like your epitaph to be?

Thank fuck he’s shut up.

For details of Mark’s Edinburgh Fringe dates, and to buy tickets, go to the Edinburgh Fringe website.

Mark Thomas goes on a nationwide tour in September. For tour dates, see: markthomasinfo.com.

TWITTER: @markthomasinfo
Also, see the We Will Drive Them to the Airport website.

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