12:23PM, Monday 29 October 2018
Having spent the past four years carving a name for himself in Canada’s comedy scene, Maidenhead-born James Mullinger is returning to his hometown for a one-off show at a venue with a special place in his heart.
After leaving Maidenhead for the eastern Canadian province of New Brunswick in 2014, Mullinger was told not to get his hopes up.
“It’s not known as an entertainment centre. People in this area, New Brunswick, say oh there’s no comedy industry here, you won’t be able to make it as a comedian.”
But it was not long before he started picking up bookings.
“I started getting booked for a lot of shows here from within the province because there wasn’t an entertainment industry here and because it’s so small, everything here works by word of mouth.
“It forced me to work very hard and to be aware of the fact that every single show mattered to an incredible degree.
“If you’re a bad comedian or plumber in London, you can get away with it forever.”
He said that working on a circuit that did not rely on agents and TV appearances made it ‘a very organic and natural thing’.
Since then Mullinger’s exposure has shot up, with Anything is Possible, a screening of his 2016 show to 5,500 people at New Brunswick’s Harbour Station, available to watch on Amazon.
Mullinger says that his British-ness helped give him an edge in Canada, compared to back home where he is ‘just another boring, white, male, middle class, heterosexual comedian with two kids’.
“The dream for any comedian is to be the fish out of water and what you do is notice things. Comedy is all about noticing things and it’s about having an angle.”
He said his nationality gives him the opportunity to point out things that are bizarre to him but seemingly normal for Canadians, such as the use of the term ‘midget hockey’ for junior-aged ice hockey.
“They’ve never once thought, oh yes, midget is a very inappropriate thing to use in this context,” he added.
But Mullinger says he has some Maidenhead-related gags and tales of his time growing up in the town.
The former Courthouse Junior School pupil says some old pals from school have got in touch and are planning to come to his Maidenhead show.
He’s chosen to perform at Norden Farm, his favourite UK venue where he started watching comedians as a teenager, because it gave him the inspiration and courage he needed to get into stand-up.
“It was kind of my first introduction to comedy in many ways.
“It was my first kind of realisation that the people that I’ve seen on TV and loved were actually real people.
“It’s the sort of venue where performers come out and meet the audience. They were awkward, shy people like myself, offstage.”
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The statue, which was put up on a plinth in the High Street in November 2018 to commemorate 100 years since the First World War, was damaged beyond repair and has not been replaced.