phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
Mark Thomas: “I’ve got 50:1 on ‘Trump to convert to Islam’”

Mark Thomas: “I’ve got 50:1 on ‘Trump to convert to Islam’”

1 October 2017 Will Rathbone

Mark Thomas, described by the Metropolitan Police as a “general rabble-rouser and alleged comedian”, is an award-winning writer, broadcaster and performer as well as a passionate, intelligent activist. As he embarks on a tour of the UK with ‘A Show That Gambles on the Future’, London Calling spoke to him about the production and his own hopes and predictions for things that have not yet come to pass.

London Calling: Morning Mark, thanks very much for speaking to us! Please could you start by telling us about A Show That Gambles on the Future?
 
MT: The show is very, very simple. I ask people to write down, on bits of paper, their forecasts for the coming years. I have roughly half an hour before the start of the show to get all those bits of paper in, and to create a structure for the show. Then I go on stage, and we discuss the forecasts that people have written down and vote on the forecast that we think is most likely to come true. At the end we have a collection, we put some money in a bucket and put that money on a bet for the forecast. Any money won then goes to charity.


Mark Thomas © Jane Hobson
 
LC: So are you improvising a lot?
 
MT: Yep, you could say that. You could say there’s a huge amount of improvisation if you’re creating a show out of suggestions from the audience! It’s really exciting because every night something different is going to happen. Every single night, something will happen that you don’t expect. Where comedy differs from theatrical performances – many, not all – is that if someone shouts at Hamlet, Hamlet will just trundle on. A couple of ushers will come along, there’ll be the small thud of a cosh and a whiff of ether and someone will get dragged out, but that’s about it. With stand-up, it relies on the audience reaction. It’s a conversation, a dialogue.
 
LC: How do you approach the concepts for your shows?
 
MT: You know, wouldn’t it be great if someone knocked on the door, disappeared, and then a letter appeared under the door with your instructions for the year. Wouldn’t that be great? I’m working on about four shows this year: The Red Shed, which we’ve just finished, The Show that Gambles on the Future, and two shows for next year. So what I actually do is look at something and think: “that’s great, let’s do that”. Then I think: “how can we fit this in, how does this work? What can I put in here? What’s interesting? What appeals to me?” Stand-up is a form where people say: “I like him, I like her, they’re great. I want to see them again, I want to see them do something different – but the same. I want new material, but the same thing.” But I like trying different things. I really enjoy the fact that I know the next two shows are completely weird and not what you’d expect!


Mark Thomas © Jane Hobson
 
LC: What are some of the best suggestions you’ve had from the show so far?
 
MT: “While Donald Trump is asleep, everyone in the White House will quietly leave”. That was voted as a forecast. I have been unable to put a bet on. “Trump to convert to Islam” I’ve got 50:1 on, but I don’t think we’re going to see it. We had a lot of predictions along the lines of “May to win by 20 or less”, and we won a lot of money on that. We’ve got quite a lot of money on Jeremy Corbyn being the leader of the Labour Party by 2018 – which is money just waiting to be turned over. Another favourite – and again, we couldn’t put a bet on, but we’re going to have a renewed assault – is that Freddo chocolate bars will increase in RRP from 30p to 35p in the course of a year. What I love about this is that there are sections of the internet that now use Freddo chocolate bars a measure of inflation. You have shrinkflation, which is the size of the chocolate bar being reduced, or inflation, which is the RRP. I love that.


Mark Thomas © Jane Hobson
 
LC: Do you feel we’re living in a particularly transitional, volatile time politically? Or do you think it always feels like that?
 
MT: We’re human beings, there’s human activity, there’s stuff happening all the time. What I do find exciting is that, in times of volatility, there are opportunities to make interventions that can lead to a change for the good. I think Corbyn is a part of that, and I genuinely think he will become Prime Minister. Neo-liberalism is a cuckoo project whose time is up, and we have to get rid of it and return to the idea of communal living. The idea that we can live and operate together is important. We’re not just individual consumers – we’re citizens, and we rely on each other.
 
LC: Did you manage to see much at the Festival? Anything you’d recommend?
 
MT: Yeah! I would recommend Garry McNair: Letters to Morrisey, Hot Brown Honey, No Show, The Believers Are But Brothers, Nassim, Mark Steele, Bilal Zafar, On Ice, Nina, Wild Bore, Palmeira and A Bombastic Declaration of Love. I made a pact that whenever I go to Edinburgh, no matter how much I’m rehearsing or performing, I see a minimum of 40 shows. I have kept that pledge ever since I started it.

Mark Thomas is touring the UK with A Show That Gambles On The Future from 3 October till 15 December, including dates at the Leicester Square Theatre from October 17-28. Tickets for the London dates are £15.

Tell us what you think

You may also like

An Interview with Neerja Naik

An Interview with Neerja Naik

Set in Twentieth Century Northern England during the last days of the woollen mills, The Captive Queen is a thrilling reimagining of the 1675 John…

Alternative Valentines Day

Alternative Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day seems to be a bit like marmite. You either seem to love the heart adorned gifts, treats and extravagant displays of affection, or you…

Follow Frankenstein

Follow Frankenstein

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Frankenstein. Various events celebrate the remarkable Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, cast out by society for being the…

An Interview with Ed Night

An Interview with Ed Night

The 21-year old comedian was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Comedy Awards at Edinburgh Fringe 2017. Now he is taking his debut show Anthem…

An Interview with Justin Edwards

An Interview with Justin Edwards

Lauded as the play of the year in 2017, Jez Butterworth's play about a family of farmers touched by the political troubles in 1980' Northern…

Win 2 tickets to see Good Girl

Trafalgar Studios - Win 2 tickets to see Good Girl

Here is your chance to see Naomi Sheldon’s award-winning debut play

Win Tickets to Lab Late: Managing the Biosphere

The Imagination Lab - Win Tickets to Lab Late: Managing the Biosphere

Are you concerned about rapid changes facing the planet? Do you want to hear about a movement that advocates for action, driven by the people?

Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World

Amy Conway’s Super Awesome World

Depression, growing up, and video games - join Amy Conway on a dark and difficult quest

Succubus comedy night

Succubus comedy night

Razor-sharp women’s satirical magazine, Succubus, launches a brand new comedy night championing female comedy writers and stand ups.

The Best Theatre in London this February

The Best Theatre in London this February

Ah February. It’s always nice to see you: short, chirpy and signalling the beginning of the end for winter. Theatre-wise, things are also starting to heat…

Most popular

Win Tickets to Best of Broadway!

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Win Tickets to Best of Broadway!

Experience an evening showcasing the finest shows on Broadway and in the West End live at the Royal Albert Hall.
Win 2 Tickets to a Cocktail Cinema Evening!

Courthouse Hotel - Win 2 Tickets to a Cocktail Cinema Evening!

Your chance to win a magical night out with this Cocktail Cinema Evening for Two at the 5* Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch!
Win 2 tickets to see Good Girl

Trafalgar Studios - Win 2 tickets to see Good Girl

Naomi Sheldon’s award-winning debut play
Win Tickets to The Enchanted Room

Estorick Collection - Win Tickets to The Enchanted Room

We've got two tickets to give away to a unique display of Italian art.
Win Tickets to Lab Late: Managing the Biosphere

The Imagination Lab - Win Tickets to Lab Late: Managing the Biosphere

Are you concerned about rapid changes facing the planet? Hear about a movement that advocates for action, driven by the people!
Top 5: Brutalist Buildings in London

Top 5: Brutalist Buildings in London

Concrete beasts in the city
Win a bottle of Prosecco and free entry to Womb 2

Number 90 Bar & Kitchen - Win a bottle of Prosecco and free entry to Womb 2

Number 90 Bar & Kitchen in Hackney is celebrating it’s 4th birthday with a massive 4 day party of individually themed events.
Top 5: Escape room games in London

Top 5: Escape room games in London

Exciting quest for adventurous explorers
Julius Caesar at The Bridge Theatre

Julius Caesar at The Bridge Theatre

Ben Whishaw, Michelle Fairley, David Calder and David Morrissey take to London’s newest stage.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!!