Anyway, the argument started with a piece from David Jesudason whose main point was that...
The role of the comedian is to highlight the ills of our society and not be scared to say things that other people are afraid of highlighting. This means they have a huge responsibility, a responsibility that must be used to shine a light on how power is used to repress and maintain the status quo.
This, as you've probably guessed, is not really how I see comedy. I want comedians to make me laugh and make me happier for a while than I would be otherwise. That might be by lambasting "the ills of society" but it also might be by singing about something as trivial as sending a text to the person the text was about (David O'Doherty) or reading a poem about dew (Tim Key).
Then Carl Donnelly responded to the overall criticism of comedians "selling-out" on their moral responsibilities, but Mark Watson himself felt that he needed he needed to reply to the attacks on his personal integrity:
I accepted the Magners job because the money has allowed me the freedom to take on unpaid or hardly-paid projects which I might otherwise have had to abandon.
This was followed up by Ivor Dembina who made the rather surprising claim that:
Sorry, when you operate as a comedian your first responsibility isn’t to your family, it’s to your audience.
In my response to the criticisms aimed at Watson specifically, I can be rather more robust than he could (I guess he felt it would look rather immodest to list his more altruistic achievments). That 24-Hour Show - featuring not just Mark but comedians such as Simon Amstell and Stephen K Amos whose solo shows could cost over £20? That cost each audience member £5. He has also dedicated himself to being less Crap At The Environment, to the point of taking courses and now delivering lectures on how we can all do our bit. And the idea that Watson has little regard for his fans just doesn't add up - he consistently goes out of his way to get fans into sold-out shows and events he's involved in.
Does one advertising deal outweigh all of this? Some people think so, I clearly don't. Sure, it's not the best thing he's going to do with his life, and he's understandably taken a great deal of good-hearted stick for it. But to suggest that it is so bad to have irrevocably betrayed his personal integrity, his fans, or the good name of stand-uppery, well that's just a step too far.