Trapped in the Roundhouse
James Mullinger’s new show focuses on embarrassing stories from his past, after the London riots he has some drama to add too
�No performer wants a deeply unhappy and malcontent baying mob throwing things and shouting by the end of their show. Fortunately for James Mullinger, the crowd that appeared outside the Roundhouse on the day of his last gig at the Camden Fringe were not rioting because of his comedy.
The 33-year-old stand up had just finished his last show of a run at the Camden Town venue and was about to have a post show drink when staff announced that rioters were closing in on the building and that everyone must move upstairs to the safety of the gallery immediately.
“Staff came in and moved us upstairs. Initially people did that very British thing of saying it was a lot of fuss over nothing, but as we looked out through the big windows we could see a huge mob. It was a bit fraught actually because one of my friends left immediately after the gig and we were really worried about her,” Mullinger tells me.
About 200 people from the bar were ensconced in the main part of the building for around two hours. Local Terry Gilliam was included in the party. “There were a couple of pretty funny moments,” says Mullinger. “Someone went up to Terry Gilliam and asked him if he could arrange for a big foot to come and stamp on all the rioters.
“Another high point was when one of the bar staff announced he would be bringing drinks and we all cheered – only to find that he meant water. I like the fact that he took the cheer knowing full well he was not bringing us alcohol.”
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Mullinger was performing his third show run since he decided to become a comedian. His first was about feminism – more specifically, what it is like to be a man with a degree in women’s studies who works at GQ touching up pictures of half naked women to make them look ‘better’ (all true).
“It was a strange dichotomy to be those two people, although we used to touch up every picture – men, women and even landscapes, so it wasn’t as misogynistic as it sounds.”
That show received good reviews, not just from critics, but from peers too. Jimmy Carr called Mullinger “a great stand up” when he reached the final of his talent competition in 2005 (the year he started comedy) and Michael McIntyre called him “the next big thing”, casually implying he himself may cease to be the ‘current big thing’, which most people thought impossible.
Spurred on, Mullinger has continued to write. “I realised that the best bits of both my shows were the really embarrassing stories, so my third show is a collection of just that – really cringeworthy stories from my past.”
And he will be returning to the scene of his entrapment to perform his wince inducing set later this month. In case of emergency – bring a sleeping bag. And some booze.
n James Mullinger will perform on October 24 at the Roundhouse.