Jimmy Mullinger shares his teenage diariesBy Caroline Cook
August 30, 2012
Comedian James Mullinger will open his old diaries this autumn. Caroline Cook peeks through the pages.
The thing that stands out when you speak to James Mullinger is that he is really rather nice. That, and he has absolutely no shame.
Most people would prefer to run a marathon than read out their old diary entries to a room full of strangers but for James it’s been a comedy gold mine.
“One of the most embarrassing bits is when I read out this diary entry from the day I lost my virginity,” he says. “Most people would want to either destroy it or make sure no-one ever reads it but I quite like the idea of people being able to laugh at these things I have done.”
Opening his scribbles to the public has given the comedian plenty of fuel for his gigs and he says almost nothing will be out of bounds in his latest show.
“The audience can ask me questions and there’s pretty much nothing I won’t answer,” he says, sounding surprisingly chirpy despite a few days watching comedy and “partying too much” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
“I feel embarrassed about the silliest of things in normal life but then I’ll feel nothing about sharing the most private things on stage.
“The show is a study of that but overall it’s an excuse to tell lots of funny and personal stories."
His stories, of which he says “there are lots – but many of them wouldn't be printable”, have gone down well with critics so far, with his debut show James Mullinger Is The Bad Boy of Feminism selling out at the Camden Fringe in 2009.
“The most popular was stuff about my school days so that’s why I did a show about that,” he says, referencing James Mullinger’s Schooldays, which also sold out the following year. “Essentially the show was about the dichotomy between having no shame on stage but in life being quite awkward.”
But despite his assertion he doesn’t seem all that awkward when he chats excitedly about his latest show on the phone.
The aptly named tour The Man with No Shame is coming to Windsor Firestation and Maidenhead's Norden Farm this autumn, and it will be something of a homecoming gig for James.
“I lived in Wokingham for two years and grew up in Maidenhead,” he says. “I come back all the time, I love it.
“Doing Norden Farm was probably my best gig of the last tour. Having grown up going there and getting to play there means a lot, it’s a great feeling.”
James first stepped on to the comedy scene in 2005 after a stint writing about comedy for GQ magazine.
“I got to meet Jerry Seinfield,” he says, and you can almost hear him beaming down the phone. “There’s that big worry of ‘what if he’s not a nice guy?’ but he definitely did live up to my expectations.
“He exceeded them.”
Although he was writing about comedians in the day, at night James was creating and running Upstairs at the Masons, a comedy club in Mayfair which attracted the likes of Russell Brand, Richard Herring and Michael McIntyre.
But the club was shut down for a year after an audience member complained about offensive material.
“That was a very frustrating incident because Stewart Lee was booked to do our next show and he has come up against this problem with Jerry Springer The Opera,” says James.
“It seems to be the thing where people feel like they have the right to be offended. Certain things might not be for everyone but I think they need to be a bit more lenient.
“There’s lots of comedy I’m not a fan of so I don’t watch it. The only offensive comedy is bad comedy.”
While comedians like Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle have the kind of comedy that makes you snort with laughter at something you feel you probably shouldn’t be laughing at, James is more about self-deprecation.
“I’m not a fan of comedy that picks on people. Not to say other comedians shouldn’t do it but the only person that gets roasted every night is me,” he says.
“Even some of the bits that are shocking, I like that people can go ‘at no point did you laugh at anybody else’.”
And with James standing on stage and telling blush-inducing stories about losing his virginity you can imagine there’s going to be no need for him to point the finger anywhere else to get the laughs.
n James Mullinger will be at Windsor Firestation on Friday, September 21, and at Norden Farm on Saturday, December 15. For more information visit www.jamesmullinger.com.