Spotlight on: Jack Whitehall is flying high. The award-winning comedian, writer, actor and Marlborough College alumni tells School Notices how he made it and why the grass is greener on the other side.
When did you first realise you were funny?
Probably when I started doing sketch shows at Marlborough. They went down a storm as it was me in front of all my friends. Then you go out into the real world and get a nasty shock when it’s actual punters and they don’t laugh.
How did your school years influence your career?
Hugely. Not only has my background been a source of huge amounts of material but I also met like-minded people, many of whom I still work with – like Freddy Syborn, who was in my boarding house. We still write together to this day.
When did you get your first big break?
Getting a solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was definitely the moment that people in the industry started taking notice of me.
“If poshness needs to be bashed a bit, which it probably does, then why don’t I do the bashing? “
Brits love to bash posh people. How did you make your accent work for you?
I think I owned the fact that everyone loves a bit of posh bashing. If poshness needs to be bashed a bit, which it probably does, then why don’t I do the bashing?
Tell us what you’ve been up to.
I’ve released my latest stand-up special on Netflix. It’s a great company to work for and it feels exciting to be doing something at a place that’s always evolving and growing across the world. People will be able to see my stand-up on every corner of the globe.
You do such a variety of stuff. What work gives you the biggest buzz?
Whatever I’m not doing, that’s what I miss the most. As in, if I’m doing a long tour, I yearn to be on set acting or in a room doing some writing, but then whenever I’m doing either of the latter I start getting the itch to be on stage again. I’ll never be happy!
You’ve collaborated with your dad several times. Tell us a bit about him and why you ended up working together.
I used to talk about him loads on stage and finally got to the point where I was like: ‘I need to stop making jokes about him.’ That coincided with my producer suggesting we do a chat show together. We did it at Edinburgh initially and only planned to do a couple of shows. But I’ve woken a monster. I can’t stop him now.
How was it travelling with him for your Netflix series?
Long. We did six weeks on the road. That’s a long time to spend with anyone… but your dad?! We did have some great moments, though, and he does genuinely make me laugh a lot. If anyone’s thinking of taking a gap year reading this, take a parent. They get all the bills.
What was the funniest moment on your travels?
Probably seeing my dad get a henna tattoo. I’m gutted it came off.
Which work are you most proud of, and why?
Probably [Paul Pennyfeather in the adaption of Evelyn Waugh’s] Decline and Fall that I did for the BBC. It was something completely different for me and I think we did a really classy job.
What advice do you have for kids wanting to do comedy?
Develop some thick skin.
Tell us a joke.
Jack Whitehall: At Large and Travels With My Father are both available on Netflix. Bounty Hunters is also available on Sky One (correct at time of interview – winter 2017)