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Mark Watson’s Tour This Can’t Be It Was Inspired by an App That Says He’ll Die at 78

He found out the news just after his 40th birthday (Picture: Getty)

Comedian and Taskmaster star Mark Watson, 41, on being told he’s going to die at 78, the difficulty of writing a film for Toni Collette and being a comic dad.

So why should we venture out in chilly January and February to see your stand-up show?

January is a cheerless month at times. Many people might feel that we could do without a January and February altogether given that the past 18 months has been somewhat like a permanent winter.

I suppose I’m offering a better form of escape from the gloom than most things on offer in your specific town on that specific night.

The tour, called This Can’t Be It, was inspired by an app that predicted you would die at 78. How long have you been processing this information?

A worrying amount of time has passed. It was shortly after my 40th birthday that I impulsively opened this app.

The pandemic and resulting chaos all landed about six weeks after my 40th birthday. So I’ve had about a year and a half since this ruling of 78.

Was there a temptation to find another app for a second opinion?

The worry is that you start going down instead of up. It’s a bit like blackjack or something. Maybe you want to stick on 78 rather than twist.

How much did you fudge the lifestyle questions?

I did a little bit, to be perfectly honest, in the same way that you might with a doctor. Someone said to me that doctors automatically double the number of units you claim to drink a week just as a matter of course.

I was truthful on the subject of exercise because I’m quite good at that but not in terms of my diet and alcohol. I think I implied to the machine that I was in the habit of looking after myself better than I probably am.

Will you be inviting any of the audience to try this app?

I often do. I try to find someone roughly my sort of age so it’s a fair contest. By and large, audience members have outlived me so far although we don’t know if they are being truthful about their answers.

I had a woman in Scotland last August whose answers were two bottles of Prosecco a night. It was a worrying set of responses. I had to fudge her outcome a bit because I didn’t want to say to her that according to the app, she had died about age 15.

Mark’s YouTube games show with Taskmaster’s Alex Horne has been a success (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

Your YouTube game show with Tim Key and Alex Horne, No More Jockeys, has been a success. Do you play games whenever you get together?

We often tinker with games. During the period of extreme lockdown we had a weekly quiz or games night with three other people who were from the same gang at Cambridge.

I don’t think there are any more games in the pipeline that have the potential to excite people as much as No More Jockeys. For many years it was just a stupid post-pub or on-the-train game between us.

What’s this StudioCanal film project you are writing for Toni Colette?

The film is an adaptation of a novel called The Best Of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion. I was brought in to write about four years ago as I had written a play that was on Radio 4 with broadly similar themes.

The book is a romantic comedy with a bit of an edge to it. It’s taken longer than any creative project I’ve been involved in because so many people are involved in a film.

The other thing is that Toni Collette is at the middle of the project and she is extraordinarily busy and in demand. Other projects land on her desk at the rate of about six a minute.

Mark’s writing a rom-com for ‘extraordinarily busy’ director Toni Collette (Picture: Patrick Lewis/Starpix/REX/Shutterstock)

Have you had meetings with Toni?

She’s directing. I have met her twice. I’ve been on Zoom calls with her. She’s been filming in all different parts of the world even during the pandemic.

She is often in Australia and one of the execs is in the States so even to have a conversation involves three time zones.

More: Sixty Seconds

Are your children yet of an age where they can listen to your podcasts such as Menkind, which examines masculinity with co-host Michael Chakraverty?

The daughter is seven, so not really, but my son is nearly 12 now. I was going to say he hasn’t yet discovered Menkind but of course it is well beyond my jurisdiction to limit what he listens to these days.

He’s aware of No More Jockeys because we’ve played that once or twice. Quite a lot of the behaviour and language in those games I don’t think I would see as good modelling in the world of parenting.

I’ve got to accept that his view of me is going to be shaped not just by what I say and how I pretend to behave but by how I actually am on screen and on stage.

What are you doing with the rest of your week?

I’m picking up the children in a few hours’ time. What happens from there is largely in their hands. Sometimes I feel like a competent parent and sometimes I feel like a riot policeman.

This Can’t Be It is touring until October 7,

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