Rarely Asked Questions: James Mullinger

Rarely Asked Questions: James Mullinger

Comedian James Mullinger has done what a lot of us probably dream of doing. He left London and relocated, starting a whole new life with his wife and family. Mullinger chose New Brunswick in Canada. Since arriving he has lived the dream - with a few bumps along the way while changing from city kid to "country bumpkin" - and established himself as one of the region's top comedy stars. In 2016 he played an arena gig at Saint John's Harbour Station which outsold his hero Jerry Seinfeld.

Mullinger, whose UK stand-up life before Canada has also been told in the movie, The Comedian's Guide To Survival, starring James Buckley, achieved all of this through sheer hard work, self-belief and charm. You can read his story in his book Brit Happens*  *Or Living the Canadian Dream, which has already topped the Amazon Comedy Charts in America and Canada. It is also out now everywhere on audiobook, with Mullinger telling his story. Buy the book here and the audiobook here. Get a taste of Mullinger's rollercoaster tale in this exclusive interview below


What is the last thing you do before you go onstage (apart from check your flies and/or check your knickers aren't sticking out of your skirt and check for spinach between your teeth)

Pee. Sorry, I mean wee. I have been in Canada for a decade now so sometimes forget to speak properly. I drink gallons of water in the hour before I go on stage. I always worry my mouth will go dry so I drink upwards of ten bottles of water in the hour before. Yes I have water on stage but I don’t like to stop the show to sip and invariably I will perform for close to two hours, so I get all my water drinking in beforehand.

I also do some serious twitching and fiddling. I have suffered from numerous facial tics and other nervous twitches since childhood, so in the moments before I hit the stage I try to get two hours’ worth of them out of the way and it tends to work. I can’t watch my own specials because I spot the nervous tics, but I don’t know if anyone else does. Answers on a postcard please. Or an email. Whatever you prefer you crazy kids.


What irritates you?  

Negativity. Myself. My voice. I find myself very grating and even now I hear people reading this saying: “You and me both mate.” 

I think ten years ago I would have more complaints but I have got more patient leaving London and moving to a small town in Canada because you have to be. Everyone knows everyone so you have to bite your tongue all the time. I once tutted at a long line up in Sobeys (Canadian Sainsburys) and my wife got a text from a neighbour saying that I was “kicking off” in the queue.


What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?

Well I certainly took some pretty ropey drugs back in the day that could have ended me. I once climbed a volcano in Bali and cooked eggs in the lava so I could have been buried alive and burned alive simultaneously with lava, while also vomiting to death from salmonella. The day before I had flown from Heathrow to Bali to meet a girl I had been dating and was profoundly in love with. She dumped me as soon as I arrived, so let’s just say I was into taking a lot of risks that week.


What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

Ha ha, well – see all of the above. But the thing that keeps me awake at night that professionally I think is the stupidest thing I have ever done is that I once drank too much before a gig that meant a lot to me and I totally sabotaged the show. It was about five years ago and I will never forgive myself for it. It will – I hope – always be the stupidest thing I have ever done. But also in many ways it is the best thing, because from that day on, I have never taken even a sip of alcohol on a show day. Not even a taste of wine at lunchtime if there is a show that night.

And I would say – and others have said – that my act improved immeasurably after that. As Jimmy Carr once told me years ago – and I really wish I had listened then – “no one does their job better after a few drinks.” Obviously some people do. Doug Stanhope. Postal workers. Teachers. But I think when he said that he meant me. And he was right as he often is.


What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy?

How much hard work it is. How much it can sometimes feel like a job but mainly the biggest surprise for me, and I’m sure many other people, is that I am able to make a good living doing it. 

Interview continues here


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