Why Jack of comic trades is tired of seeing his telly face

Bad Education. Pic: PA Photo/BBC.
Bad Education. Pic: PA Photo/BBC.

Comedian Jack Whitehall seems to have been on every TV show going recently and disarmingly he admits: “I’m bored of my own face. I apologise.”

“I didn’t mean for it to all happen at the same time as it did,” adds the funnyman, who is in Sheffield on his latest stand-up tour next month.

Jack’s recent TV roles include starring in comedy dramas Fresh Meat and Bad Education, which he also wrote, as well as co-hosting offbeat talk show Backchat with his dad, Michael.

In addition, Jack is a regular panellist on Sky sports quiz League of Their Own – which he says is like being at someone’s stag do – and has been seen on other panel shows including Have I Got News For You and QI.

He’s also the voice of the troll priest Gothi in the current hit Disney film Frozen. Oh, and he has a book out, Him and Me, co-written with his dad.

Jack says that his dad’s persona as someone mystified by showbusiness is completely made up. He is actually a retired showbiz agent and represented actor Nigel Havers, which is why he got a mention as one of the stars his dad had never heard of in Backchat.

He said of that show: “I never really wanted to be a chat show host. I don’t really see myself being one but it’s a bit of fun. I’ve talked about my dad a lot in my stand-up shows so he’s a big character in my work.”

He admitted that it was daunting to interview Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, who lived up to his fearsome reputation.

Jack said it also did his mum a favour as the show got her dad out from under her feet for a while. Not surprisingly, given the list of projects above, Jack says: “I love doing lots of things. But it’s a weird one because every time you do stand-up you’re desperate to get back to it.

“Stand-up is my first love. No matter what else you do, it’s impossible to completely put stand-up to bed. I’m back on tour doing what I love.”

He added: “ I love the intimacy, just you and your audience. There’s no-one to interfere with you and you haven’t got your dad interrupting you.

“There’s no editor or producers moaning at you or notes from the channel or any of that.”

Jack said that he started as a stand-up when he was 17 and still at posh school, Marlborough College. He performed his first gig in a little pub to about 15 people and says he has been at it ever since.

He said: “This is my biggest tour yet. It’s very exciting to be doing it.”

Jack says that he is pretty honest in the show. “There’s quite a lot of stories, mainly of my personal humiliations. It’s me making a fool of myself, talking to the audience about moments of life.”

He said he also enjoys introducing characters during his sets, usually people he’s met. Speaking of being honest, he admits he’s not sure why anyone would have wanted to listen to a 17-year-old talking about his life.

“It takes a certain weird tenacity and desire for attention to need to do it. You do become a better person. It’s an outlet for your twittishness.

“It’s very good for your personality.”

Jack is worried about coming to the city as early ticket sales were not doing well when we spoke a few weeks ago.

He said: “I don’t know what I’ve done to upset Sheffield. No-one’s coming to see me. I’ve only played Sheffield once in a gig above a pub. It wasn’t the best gig I’ve ever had.

“There were two people in the audience.

“We had a nice pint and I got back on the train and went home and cried a little. If the two people that did turn up are reading this, I’m a lot better than that now.”

Jack Whitehall Gets Around, a show where the audience is seated all around the stage, will be at the Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield on March 13 – and, yes, ticket sales are going well now.

Box office: http://www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk or call 0114 256 5656. There are discounts for students but they need to show an NUS card at the gig.