MARC Burrows would admit himself that the inspiration for his latest comedy show dates back to an encounter his mum had in a pub.

“My mum was given two Terry Pratchett Discworld novels by a bloke down the pub and I always say that’s how you’re meant to get those,” he told The National.

And it’s a good thing they made his way to him because the iconic author and his work has helped form the basis of Burrows’ new show – The Magic of Terry Pratchett – which is coming to Edinburgh and Glasgow this weekend with some tickets still available HERE

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In a chat with The National, he spoke about what makes the author so special, why his new show offers something different and what it’s like performing in Scotland.

Bottling the magic

Being handed those Discworld books by his mum marked a major turning point for Burrows, whose biography of Pratchett was published in 2020 to critical acclaim.

“He was the first proper grown-up author I loved which is ironic given he’s a brilliant children’s author as well but I just fell in love with the world and the absurdity,” he said.

First beginning in 1983, Pratchett’s comic-fantasy series has sold millions of copies around the world and continue to be read by many following the author’s death in 2015.

“Growing up, it was so relatable. It was these stories of the mundanity in these extraordinary situations and that was his genius.”

The new show then takes the form of what Burrows calls a “comic lecture” but he’s keen to stress it’s not just for Pratchett fanatics.

He explained: “It’s really a stand-up comedy show. I’m a stand-up by trade and it’s a one-man show but presented like a lecture.

“It’s a celebration of Terry but you don’t have to be a reader of his and that’s something I’ve worked hard on, I really tried to get that balance right.

“You’ll get something out of it even if you’re being dragged along because it had to work for superfans but also those who have never read Pratchett’s work.”

An incredible story

Burrows has done the show once before at the Edinburgh Fringe and he was delighted by the reaction.

“It’s the story of who he was and where he came from, his ideas and how he looked at life,” the comic explains.

“Pratchett had Alzheimer’s which is horrible for anyone but for an author who makes their life on words, to lost that must be so difficult.

The National: Marc Burrows' show focuses on Terry Pratchett. Image: Andrea C White

“He became a campaigner for that and made the end of his life matter. When you pull all of that together it’s a great story regardless of whether he wrote stories about giant turtles and wizards.”

He added that he wants to challenge people’s preconceptions about the author, particularly given the “nerdy stereotype” many associate with him. 

“They think it will be this juvenile, nerdy thing but they have so much depth, heart and nuance and an understanding of human nature in them.

“I’m showing these books aren’t what some critics dismissed them as. People thought they were 14-year-old boys called Kevin but there aren’t enough of them to sell 100 million books – that would be a lot of boys called Kevin.”

Performing in Scotland

As well as his comedy work, Burrows is also the bassist in the cult Victoriana punk band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing and is happy to report he’s never had a bad show north of the Border.

“There are parts of England where I know it’ll be hard work but I’ve never worried about that that in Scotland,” he says, laughing.

“I always play in Edinburgh and we’ve been up to Inverness as well. Scottish audiences are amongst the best.

The National: Burrows says he loves performing at the Fringe

“I don’t know what it is but there’s a level of relatability or engagement or an appreciation of the absurd.

“There’s a magic in the air. I think the reason Edinburgh has a successful arts festival is because there’s something about the city and the atmosphere that infects the audience.

“I wish I could bottle it. Scottish audiences are unique and I always love playing for them.”