Festival Books - Mark Watson
Eco-friendly, my dear Watson
This article is from 2008.
Offering a shambolic take on Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, comedian Mark Watson tells Emma Lennox how he’s trying to save the planet
According to Mark Watson, saving the planet would, at the very least, ‘look pretty smart on all our CVs’. With an already sterling comedy résumé, Watson takes on environmentalism in his latest book, Crap at the Environment, which through the author’s leading example, seeks to change people’s attitudes on turning green. ‘I’m trying to remain funny at the same time as saving the world,’ says Watson excitedly. ‘Fingers crossed!’
It’s Watson’s aim to motivate the ordinary people of the world who can’t see the trees for the tree huggers. No Captain Planet, himself, Watson uses his everyman qualities of humour and crap-ness to dispel the preconceptions. ‘Basically by being fairly rubbish at it, I defuse any feeling that I might have become a cult member,’ he says. ‘It would be like a happy-clappy Christian saying, “Mind you, I do sometimes cheat on my wife.’”
Yet Watson is now a bona fide activist who has received training from none other than Al Gore himself. This year Watson performed the award-winning lecture from An Inconvenient Truth to 1500 people in Melbourne’s town hall, an experience the professional comedian describes as ‘frightening’. But why bother with live lectures when the DVD is readily available? ‘An awful lot of people haven’t [seen the film], because they think it would depress them too much,’ says Watson who is appearing at the Book Festival in an event sponsored by The List. ‘Why do I need to spend two hours of an already stressful life being told that the planet is about to become uninhabitable?’
Watson is too much of a nice guy to be a fire-and-brimstone speaker, and instead he’s returned to what he knows best; comedy. ‘I’ve doctored some of his slides,’ he says. ‘I’ve messed around with the graphics and just presented it in a shambolic way. There’s still a long way to go before it’s side-splitting, but it’s probably more entertaining than Mr Gore’s version.’
If a little laughter helps the medicine go down, then the least the planet could hope for is someone more entertaining than Al Gore. But how would Watson like an Oscar-winning film added to his CV? Any plans for the sequel? ‘I might call it An Inconvenient Life and focus on the way we’ll all have to make sacrifices we’re not enormously keen on,’ he says, warming to the idea. ‘Yep, I can just see it on a poster. This is going to be massive.’
23 Aug, 4.30pm, £9 (£7). Sponsored by The List.