Brit comedian and TV presenter Jack Whitehall is at The Laughter Factory this month. We try to keep a straight face
Are you excited about coming to Dubai? I said in a moment of weakness that I’d take my mum and dad with me. Then it came to it and they kept pestering me, so they’re coming along. My mother will probably buy a lot of stuff. A lot of tat.
Not your sort of place then? The water slides excite me, although I have a fear of verrucas. I imagine the water parks in Dubai are verruca-free, aren’t they? They’re probably a bit classier than what you get in the south of Spain.
Our sister publication, Time Out London, called you a ‘sickeningly young wunderkind’. (Whitehall is 20). Do you get fed up of people talking about your age? I don’t mind at all. Obviously it’s something that will go, what with the linear nature of time. It’s not something that you want to be defined by because it’s not something you can keep hold of. Although, you can be boyish even if you’re not a boy. Hopefully when I get old I can keep talking about young people things. You’ve been on British TV a lot lately (Whitehall replaced Russell Brand as host on reality game show Big Brother spin off, Big Brother’s Big Mouth, and appears regularly on Channel 4 comedy show Tonightly). Any groupies yet? There are two guys who are identical twins who have basically appeared on everything I’ve ever done. They came up to me and said, ‘We really want to make something of our lives, we want to be actors, we love working with you. We’re going to make sure that we work with you all the time.’ I was like, I’ve got twins stalking me, and they’re 19-year-old boys. They are so strange.
No girls, then? Some girl recently came up to me in a night club and said, ‘I’ve seen you on TV and you look really fit [Brit slang for good looking]’. I was like, ‘Oh, thanks very much’ and she went, ‘No, no, fat’. And she was just constantly calling me fat. I thought: Wow, that’s very kind of you. Why on earth would you say that to me? It was so annoying. I didn’t really know what to do. How rude. Well we certainly don’t think you look fat. But it makes us think, you must be confident to put yourself in the public eye. Isn’t it scary going on stage and knowing you have to make people laugh? You have to be pretty arrogant. I was that twit in school who would wear a really loud tie. But sometimes it is scary. One day I was doing a show in Bournemouth and I was bantering with the audience and this bald guy stood up and pointed at me and said, ‘Shut up and get on with your jokes.’ Normally you’d have a comeback but he was terrifying so I didn’t really have a choice, I had to do what he said. Afterwards he said, ‘Well done, that was great,’ and I was like, ‘You do realise I basically wet myself, you horrible man.’
Do you feel exposed on stage? A lot of people jump up on stage and threaten to hit me. One guy, again in Bournemouth, put me in a headlock. Some mentalists go to comedy clubs and you have to be careful. You are really exposed. Pick on an elderly woman in a wheelchair and you’re fine; don’t pick on the bruiser with the shaved head and 15 tattoos on his face.
Your dad used to be an agent to actors like Dame Judi Dench and Richard Griffiths. On Big Mouth, you met the likes of Verne Troyer (Mini Me in the Austin Powers films) and Coolio. A celeb-filled life, eh? My dad can trump me instantly. I go, ‘Oh I met [infamous Z-list glamour girl] Jodie Marsh the other day’ and he tells a story about having lunch with Dame Judi Dench on a boat. I’m like, ‘Oh shut up Dad, let me have my moment’. It is weird though, my godfathers are Richard Griffiths and Nigel Havers. Once, my dad was telling me about when he was looking after Daniel Day Lewis and had to visit him on the set of My Left Foot, a film about a guy who had cerebral palsy and could only control his left foot. Dad took him out to lunch and Daniel Day Lewis ate it with his foot because he was still in character. Dad was like, ‘What are you doing? Just behave.’
That’s an absolutely brilliant story. So what can we Dubaians expect from your show? Oh, I’ll just wing it when I’m out there. I’ll do jokes about that hotel with a helipad and we’ll be all right.
There’s a gaggle of guffaws to be had at The Laughter Factory this month. Here’s your guide to the rest of the line-up… Alistair Barrie Barrie is no stranger to this part of the world, having gigged in Bahrain in the past. In fact, he’s gigged pretty much everywhere, from Hong Kong to Indonesia, and Macau to Malta. He was even brave enough to perform in Athens during riot season. After all, laughter is the best medicine, eh? As well as being a somewhat international comedian, Barrie has dabbled in acting too. His greatest claim to fame is being in the Queen Vic pub on Brit soap Eastenders when it was revealed Grant Mitchell was playing away with wife Tiffany’s mum. Impressed? You will be.
Tommy Campbell ‘Surfer boy philosopher’ Tom Stade has dropped out of the line-up owing to TV commitments, but in his place we get fellow Canadian Tommy Campbell. (Is everyone in Canada called Tom?) Campbell is quite the multi-tasker – he too is an actor, although he’s only managed to get his mug in Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight and new Paul Greengrass film Green Zone, so it’s no Queen-Vic-Grant’s-affair-revelation a la Barrie. Campbell’s also written a book, The Slacker Confessions, about 10 years of having rubbish jobs. Catch him now before he goes off and re-invents the wheel or something.