Mark Thomas

Earlier this year Channel 4 aired the Pratchett TV-ROM, an entire programme dedicated to the man himself. Part of this televisual feast was an interview with a certain well-known author, conducted by Mark Thomas, a comedian of no small achievements himself.

In our quest for knowledge of all things Pratchett-related, we decided to try and get an insight into why the man who tried to donate a tanker of water back to Yorkshire Water should be such a fan.

To this end we approached Mark with a veritable barrage of questions about himself, his attitudes to comedy and Terry. The answers make for interesting reading.

Mark trying to look endearing

Which of Terry's books did you first read?

The Colour of Magic.

What attracted you to that book?

I knew a bit about Terry because I had read Good Omens and quite a few friends said I would really enjoy his books. But what prompted me to buy The Colour of Magic was when I spent a train journey home with an English lecturer who talked for the whole trip (an hour and a half) about Terry Pratchett which, as I didn't know much about him, was really boring. I decided I had to read a Pratchett book and if it was anything less then great I was going to search out the English lecturer and kill him. Suffice it to say that the lecturer is still alive and unaware that talking at strangers for prolonged periods of time is potentially lethal.

Terry's books have reached a great variety of readers from all backgrounds and of all ages. Why do you think that the Discworld books appeal to such a wide audience?

Because his books try and find what is common to humans and the differences between us tend to be celebrated. Of course it does help if you are very funny.

Was Terry the person you expected him to be?

He was an extremely nice and intelligent man, which I did expect. I didn't expect him to be so unconcerned with being a celebrity, which was lovely. I didn't expect him to be so giving of his time to his readers either.

What did you think of the animated versions of Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters?

To be honest I didn't watch them - partly because of an inability to cope with video recorders. Also, I really enjoy the Discworld series and for me what is great is that I have an image of what everyone and everything looks like, and I like to keep it that way. I remember seeing an Asterix cartoon and Obelix spoke with a Yorkshire accent which, as far as I am concerned, he doesn't.

Which of the Discworld characters do you most identify with?


Which of the Discworld characters do you most like?

Death and Carrot.

How and when did you get interested in comedy?

I suppose I always have been. I directed and starred in a Goon Show at school when I was 11, which is a fairly early start. I started doing stand-up 12 years ago in a pub called the White Lion in Putney. I really got into it when I realised I could make money from showing off.

Do you read or watch much comedy yourself?

Not consciously. I don't go out of my way like some comics to become experts on the world of comedy. I find those people tend not to be naturally funny. If I like something, I watch or read it - if I don't, then I would rather not spend time on what would be an academic exercise.

You seem to have a slightly more caustic touch to your work. In what way do you think your humour differs from Terry's?

I don't like people as much as Terry does. He is much more forgiving of human stupidity.

Finally, have you ever considered writing a novel yourself?


Many thanks to Mark for his time. We hope he will be able to join us at the Convention in September.

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December 1997