“I’m surprised anyone in Australia could even be arsed to come and see me… I’m not even the funniest person in my family.”
Award winning comedian Jack Whitehall has arrived in Australia well in advance of his upcoming Stood Up tour. Ahead of the tour City Hub spoke with Whitehall about the journey which has led him into comedy and acting alongside some of the biggest luminaries in the industry.
One person who has always been a constant in Whitehall’s life though, and perhaps even more so now, is his father. “My father was always a very funny person growing up. I always looked up to him and admired him. I always wanted to make people laugh and be a raconteur like him,” reflected Whitehall.
With his father as inspiration driving him Whitehall began forging a career in stand-up comedy. As his star grew Whitehall told us he “finally felt I’d gotten out of Dad’s shadow.” That was until Jack and his father paired up for their hit Netflix travel show, Travels With My Father.
“For some inexplicable reason I stepped back into Dad’s shadow and now I’m trapped there again!”
The relationship between Jack and his father has become a key device in in the Stood Up show. So much so that the elder Whitehall will also be making his Australian debut alongside his son in February.
“This show has lots of stories about my life… and a fair bit of material about my Dad,” explained Whitehall. “I’ve been traveling a lot with him and so he’s a recurring character who I bring up onto stage and throw under the bus quite aggressively. Any fans of our show will enjoy seeing me tell some stories at his expense”
According to Whitehall Stood Up has been in development for over a year, with the past three months spent touring it around the UK.
During his travels Whitehall has made some hilarious observations about the differences in culture between Britain and the U.S. “Four glasses of wine with dinner in Los angeles and you’re considered an alcoholic but in Britain four glasses with dinner and you’re the designated driver.”
He’s looking forward to coming to australia where one joke in particular may finally find the right appreciative audience:
“Weirdly I have a whole routine about emus, which I’ve been doing in England for the last two and a half months. People here look at me with a blank expression on their face because they don’t know what an emu is. I’ve been forging through and getting big laughs but now that I’m in Australia I feel like finally the emu material will come into its own.”
Whilst this is Whitehall’s first time performing in Australia he is confident that his past experiences have set him up to succeed.
When Whitehall first began dipping his toes into the stand-up circuit in Putney, in South West London, his local gig was in a “walkabout run by and filled with Aussies.” So despite never even visiting Australia before Whitehall already has an intricate understanding of the Australian sense of humour.
“Aussie are great! You’re willing to laugh at yourselves. Nobody is overly sensitive, so you can make joke and take jokes, which is why I’m excited for the tour rather than apprehensive, which sometimes I can be playing somewhere new.”
As the tour rapidly approaches Whitehall is clearly excited and confident but when the idea was first floated to him it as an entirely different story.
“I had absolutely no idea that anyone knew who I was over here or even watched my stuff. For all I knew I could have been coming to play to 10 people in a shed,” Whitehall recalled before continuing, “The fact that I’m getting to play these venues is so overwhelming, humbling and awesome.”
Outside of the stand-up comedy world Whitehall has also gone through a period of feeling overwhelmed and humbled. In recent years Whitehall has had opportunities to work alongside the likes of Dame Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and Dwayne Johnson which Whitehall described as true “pinch yourself” moments.
Although Stood Up is built around funny stories and anecdotes from Whitehall’s life he told City Hub that he avoids using stories from his experiences with the Hollywood elite.
“I don’t want to upset any of them. I can slag off my Dad until the cows come home but you need to be a bit more careful with the Hollywood A-listers.”
Even though Whitehall is seeing incredibly success in Hollywood he was quick to assure us that stand-up will always be his home.
“I love acting, being part of a cast and pushing myself with new characters but it’s quite an odd medium. You can feel detached from the end product simply because of how long it takes to come out,” Whitehall explained, “Whereas I love the immediacy of stand-up, it’s just about you and that audience on one specific night.”
Feb 7. First State Super Theatre at ICC Sydney, 14 Darling Dr, Sydney. $89.90-$109.90+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.firststatesupertheatre.com.au