Jack Whitehall

Jack Whitehall

Date of birth: 07-07-1988
Placed second in the Laughing Horse new act competition 2007 and finalist in the So You Think You're Funny? new act competition the same year. Nominated for best newcomer in the 2008 Chortle awards, and for best newcomer at the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Awards.
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Jack Whitehall: 'I'm probably not doing any more stand-up'

'I'm bored of the sound of my own voice', comic says

Jack Whitehall says he’s quitting stand-up as he’s got nothing new to contribute.

The comic said he was ‘bored of the sound of my own voice’ – but  did not rule out a retuned to live performance once he’d racked up more experiences to talk about.

Speaking to food critic Jay Rayner on his Back To Lunch podcast, Whitehall discussed how he found his comic voice, first as a teenager still living with his mum and dad, and now ‘more about my class and my background’.’

Rayner  said: ‘It’s funny, isn't it, that we've gotten to a point where being sort of posh is now a USP?’

Whitehall replied: ‘It probably isn't now, which is why I'm probably not doing any more stand-up.’

‘I certainly felt, after the last tour, like I need to stop for a bit because I don't feel like I have anything to say or add to the discourse.

‘I'm bored of the sound of my own voice and I want to go away and live my life a bit and have some more experiences and write and come back with something more interesting to talk about.’

Whitehall’s last tour, Stood Up, played arenas in 2019, and he has some live Christmas-themed dates lined up next month with dad Michael and mum Hilary to promote his new book How To Survive Family Holidays.

He is fast becoming a Hollywood star, thanks to major roles in Disney’s Jungle Cruise and the family movie Clifford The Big Red Dog.

The comic told Rayner how he flew to New York from Eastern Europe, where he was filming Travels With My Father, for a screen test for Jungle Cruise.

‘My dad was absolutely furious,’ Whitehall said. ‘I flew out to New York with five hours of sleep and then went in and did this audition with Emily Blunt. She was amazing. The minute I walked in, she put me completely at ease and was completely charming and friendly. I improvised a lot in the audition and she went with it.

‘ Literally had to go from the audition... arrived in Budapest and was filming off the plane. Then I was in a nightclub in Romania with some of the crew because I couldn't hack not knowing any more so I went to get drunk with all of them. Got a call at 1am and they said I'd got the part. I went and bought everyone in the club a drink.’

‘What was your bar bill?,’ Rayner asked.

’It was astronomical!’

He added that he was intimated to be starring alongside Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as he was a huge WWE fan.

‘I walked out onto the biggest movie set I'd ever seen in my life and walked down to do this scene that was a two-hander with me and Dwayne,’ he recalled. ‘That day, I'd been like "Whatever you do, remember to be professional and don't turn yourself into a fan."

‘He was one of those people where, because wrestling was his passion, he was over the moon to talk about it. And that was the breakthrough, when I realised we could talk about wrestling.’

Not all Whitehall’s auditions were so successful, as he recalled an open casting for Harry Potter coming to his school, Dragon School in Oxford.

When he told his dad – an acting agent – Michael said: ‘No one ever gets cast from those, we need to get you in front of the casting director.'

Jack recalls: ‘[He] pulled me out of school, drove me down to London, got me in there with the casting director. Went in, had a private one-on-one because dad had pulled some strings.

‘Absolutely flunked it. I don't think I'd read the whole book. I wasn't a very good actor when I was a child. Very awkward. Didn't get the part.

‘Two weeks later, they cast Emma Watson from the open casting at the school.’

After his revelation about quitting live comedy, Whitehall asked if he had any regrets from his stand-up material – and confessed he wished he hadn’t spoken about his break-up form Gemma Chan so soon after it happened.

‘I regretted it because I didn't deal with it in the right way and I should have spoken to her sooner about talking about it because I respect her,’ he admitted.

‘It ended up getting out into the world because a journalist from The Sun was in a comedy club in Los Angeles, randomly on holiday. I didn't think that someone from The Sun would be in there and write a lot of what I was saying stripped of context and without any of the punch lines.’

However, he did go on to talk about the break-up in his Stood Up tour, which was filmed as the Netflix special, I'm Only Joking at Wembley Stadium in January 2020.

Listen to the full episode of Out To Lunch With Jay Rayner here.

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Published: 9 Nov 2021

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