STAND-UP star Mark Watson speaks to Josh Walton about his upcoming nationwide tour and how he manages to juggle his time as a comedian, novelist, playwright and broadcaster.

After more than 100 dates on the road last year, Watson returns with a tour that takes in some of the country’s more remote venues.

Watson is amazed to find there are still some areas of the country he has not visited and some towns that are rarely or never visited as part of the well-trodden stand-up circuits played by comedians.

To narrow down the options of venues to play, Watson and his team came up with the idea of only visiting places beginning with his initials – M or W.

“It is a very silly idea that really only came about after we had these massive MW letters that we were using for one of my shows,” says Watson.

“So we almost chose to do this idea of picking place names to do shows that matched my initials so we could use the sign again. We weren’t totally serious about the idea at first. We were looking online for suggestions for theatres that would match the initials. It was already becoming quite a realistic plan as there were more that fitted in with this idea than we expected.

“Some of the places are really remote, such as the small town Much Wenlock in Shropshire, which is certainly not a place I have played before. I will play another show in Middle Wallop, near the West Country, and the venue there is actually a military museum. Again this one matches both the M and W. There are just so many places that wouldn’t usually come up as part of stand-up circuits in the UK.”

A few of the places Watson will play are favourite old haunts like Winchester or Manchester, but quite a few of them are the result of Google searches and some are so remote that he won’t know they definitely exist until they get there.

Also, some of the venues that will be played as part of the tour aren’t actually towns so much as trains (from Marylebone to Wycombe), or ferries (across the Mersey), or a helicopter museum (in the double-point-scoring Middle Wallop).

The material featured in the new tour will be a mixture of the classic and the never-before-seen. A fair bit of it will be about travelling to the various destinations.

Commenting on the themes featured in his new tour, Watson says: “In this tour I am trying to talk generally about the subject of empathy and greater understanding between humans. I am kind of working up to a whole show about that.

“Aside from that because of the MW thing there is a lot of opportunity to make the tour personal to each venue. I am sure that for each one there are a lot of interesting facts and stories I can tie in to the show.”

Watson has regularly appeared on BBC2’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and Mock the Week, BBC1’s Would I Lie To You and Have I Got News For You and Dave’s Argumental. He has performed stand-up on BBC1’s Live At The Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and a number of other TV shows.

He is one of the country’s most decorated live comedians. He was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2005 Perrier Awards and has since been awarded numerous times for his work.

As well as his TV and live performances, Watson has had a number of critically acclaimed radio shows, including his BBC Radio 4 series Mark Watson Talks A Bit About Life. He is also a regular contributor on Fighting Talk.

“TV and live shows are very different experiences,” says Watson. “Panel shows are all different so it just depends on the show and who else is featuring. You can be fairly limited in terms of expression and there is more control over what is said and the type of comedy you produce on the shows. You are usually part of a team, whereas live on stage it is all about your own agenda and style. So I think you can take different things from these experiences and learn in various ways through doing TV and stand-up. Live stuff is probably my favourite but I also really enjoy radio. The thing with radio is it is more about the words and you can craft the show a little bit more.”

When asked how he manages to cope with such a busy schedule, Watson comments: “I don’t really find enough time. It is quite difficult. I think the main way I do it all is just to be flexible and try and write all the time or at least as much as possible.

“I am normally writing my books when I am on the road. I just have to always multi-task. If I tried to do it all when I’m at home I would not really get anywhere. As I get older I try to prioritise my time and what needs to be done a bit more.”

On top of being an acclaimed comedy star, he has also written a number of novels – The Place That Didn’t Exist, Hotel Alpha, Bullet Points, A Light-hearted Look At Murder, Eleven, The Knot and graphic novel Dan and Sam which has been optioned as a feature film.

“It was really exciting that they liked Dan and Sam but it is largely not that much to do with me in terms of my involvement in the process.

“It felt a bit weird at first to have it optioned by the studio. We will just have to wait and see what happens.

“If it is made I would probably have some kind of creative input. I am happy for someone to add their own creative touch to the story.

“I am quite excited that they are even talking about filming it.”

Keeping to his habit of maintaining a busy diary, Watson is also working on a host of other projects.

He says: “I will have another series of my radio show airing some time soon, so I am working on that. There is also another book I am currently writing.

“Also, I have a play ready for BBC Radio called Remote. It is about two people who lose a remote control and the big change it brings to their lives.

“I have never had a proper play broadcast on the radio before, so I am looking forward to that and hearing people’s reactions to it.”

Speaking about his early influences in comedy, Watson adds: “When I first started I hadn’t seen much comedy.

“I had quite a narrow array of influences. Since doing it myself I have learnt a lot from friends and people around me.

“Edinburgh gives you good influences with exciting new comedy always on show.

“The longer you do it, the more you learn.”