It will be ten years in 2023 since James Mullinger first arrived in Canada after moving from the United Kingdom to New Brunswick. The comedian is getting ready to go on tour to celebrate with his first stop at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre on January 21.
It’s definitely a celebration of Canada and the Maritimes as a whole. – James Mullinger on his upcoming show.
“I tour every year anyway, but this one feels particularly special,” says Mullinger.
No stranger to our city, Mullinger has played dozens of corporate and club shows over the last decade, but this will be his first theatre show in the provincial capital.
“For an Atlantic Canadian comedian playing the Neptune is kind of like performing on Broadway,” he says.
The tour will also allow Mullinger to reflect on his time in Canada since arriving in 2014.
“It’s predominantly a new show of new material, but it’s also looking back,” he says. “It’s a retrospective look at my ten years living here, what I’ve learned since becoming a Canadian and my efforts to become a Maritimer. It’s a way of looking back and embracing everything I love about this place.”
Still, Mullinger has been careful to craft a show that will offer something for both new audiences and those familiar with his work.
“I’m aware that playing the Neptune, there will be lots of people that come who have never seen me before, but equally, there’ll be people that have possibly seen me play Yuk Yuks or The Carleton over the years. So I want to give them something fresh and new but, at the same time, dusting off and reworking some of my older routines,” he says.
Mullinger’s previous performances in Halifax have also helped him develop some comedy bits specific to the city.
“I am thinking of bringing back some of the TripAdvisor reviews I did during one of my first gigs at Yuk Yuks in Halifax,” he says. “One that sticks out was a complaint that the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo had nothing to do with tattoos.”
Mullinger also promises a story about one of his first experiences in Canada that left a lasting impression. “Something quite dramatic happened in The Keg in Halifax,” he says. “Even now, when I see The Keg, I think that is where my love affair with Canada began.”
A recent trip back to Britain after three years to see family and friends and say a proper goodbye to his grandmother, whose funeral he could only attend virtually because of the pandemic, will provide additional fodder for his show.
“So it was a very emotional seven days, but fascinating also to go back at a time when Britain is in such turmoil,” he says. “I don’t want to talk too negatively about my homeland, but its current disarray inspired me a lot. and although I was going there for very emotional reasons, it also became a comedy writing trip.”
In addition to hitting the road, Mullinger is putting the final touches on his sitcom NBrexit for Bell Fibe TV.
To be released in March, it is the story of a fictional comedian who leaves Britain during a Brexit-themed scandal and arrives in the small, fictional town of Riversdale, New Brunswick.
If the premise sounds familiar, it is because it is a “highly exaggerated and heightened version” of Mullinger’s real-life journey from Britain to Canada.
One of the most fulfilling experiences of his professional life, the sitcom was made even more special as Mullinger’s two children in real life play the fictional kids in the show.
“Normally, when I’m on the road and working, one of my overriding emotions is guilt that I’m away from my kids and that my wife is at home doing everything,” he says. “And then, for two weeks this last summer, all three of us were away, with the kids essentially getting paid to do the things they would normally do.”
It was also a learning experience for Mullinger’s two sons, who had always thought their dad’s work was all fun and games. “It is to an extent, but it was also nice for them to have to experience the 14-hour days as well,” says Mullinger with a laugh.
Of course, being back on the road for his upcoming tour will mean Mullinger will have to leave the family behind again. But, despite that particular sacrifice, he is looking forward to sharing the show with audiences.
“It’s definitely a celebration of Canada and the Maritimes as a whole,” he says. “If you’ve never seen me before, I think you will enjoy the the story of my journey and why I fell in love with this place.”
James Mullinger plays Halifax’s Neptune Theatre (1593 Argyle St, Halifax) on January 21. Visit neptunetheatre.com for tickets and information. You can find out more, including details of his other shows as part of his upcoming tour, at jamesmullinger.com.