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King of comedy Jack Whitehall is en route to Tyneside

Comic Jack Whitehall is looking forward to getting out and about when he comes to the Metro Radio Arena in the Spring

Jack Whitehall who is coming to the Metro Radio Arena Newcastle in the spring
Jack Whitehall who is coming to the Metro Radio Arena Newcastle in the spring

Jack Whitehall obviously didn’t get the memo which asserts a Jack of all trades should be master of none.

Having just been crowned the King of Comedy at the British Comedy Awards for the second consecutive year, the 25-year-old comedian is preparing to take his self-written sitcom Bad Education across the Atlantic for a US incarnation; is enjoying being co-host of new chat show, Backchat, with his gem of a father; continues to take plaudits for his role in Channel Four student sitcom Fresh Meat; and has already started filming for the next series of popular Sky One sports quiz, League of Their Own, on which he is a team regular.

Oh, and I forgot to mention his upcoming debut on the stand up comedy arena circuit in the spring, booked to grace Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena with his Jack Whitehall Gets Around tour on March 6.

Since being selected as a finalist in the Hackney Empire’s new act competition in 2008, Jack has been firmly on an upward trajectory when it comes to success.

He took shows to the Edinburgh Fringe and had them stamped with multiple stars. He also peppered the TV and radio schedules with appearances and part-time presenting roles on shows like Big Brother’s Big Mouth (and its celebrity counterpart), The Sunday Night Project, Mock The Week, Would I Lie To You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

But things certainly seem to have enjoyed a bit of turbo injection over the past couple of years. Some nights you can’t swing a metaphorical (8 Out of 10) cat around the TV Guide without his carefully coiffed bed head popping up. Sometimes twice.

“I do bore myself sometimes,” says Jack of his recent “annoyingly ubiquitous” streak, which is particularly potent when a stream of panel show appearances take on bus-like characteristics.

“You’ll film them over a period of time and then suddenly they’re all on the TV together. It can get a bit much, can’t it?” adds the well-spoken comic, although I’m pretty sure a decent slice of his 2,028,683 twitter followers would disagree.

Of course it could be argued that in the universal Venn diagram of careers, the above list of CV entries all fall into the same catch-all circle set we’ll call ‘entertainment’.

But surely we’ve all seen enough comics/actors/musicians/writers trying their hand at related diversification to know that spreading your wings doesn’t always mean there’s a flight on the cards. In fact, a bit of a crash and burn is often the more likely scenario.

“There’s so much stuff I want to do and there’s so much stuff I enjoy doing, it’s very hard to park one to concentrate on another,” says Jack, who went to the same school as Robert Pattinson of Twilight Saga fame and - as legend (or Jack’s stand up back catalogue) has it - lost out on many-a-school-play-role because of it.

“I mean I couldn’t not be doing stand up,” continues Jack, “yet if I was just doing stand up I would feel really bad about not doing my sitcom and stuff like that. It is hard because you don’t want to miss out on anything, but then when things go well, it gets tougher to fit stuff in.”

Hence the 16-date duration of the tour.

While many comics will put in more than 150 tour dates on sale in any given year, Jack’s parallel day jobs have forced him to keep the number of nights down... while dialling the capacity of the venues right up.

“That said, even though it’s only 16 dates, when you put them in, you realise that it’s still a massive undertaking,” he says.

“You’ve still got to prepare just like you would if it was a 150-date tour.”

Even more so given the in-the-round nature of the performance he’s promoting.

“The bigger space is something you’re very conscious of and playing in the round is also very different, which of course plays on your mind,” says Jack.

“But I think it’s important not to over think it as well. There are people who’ve done it before and it has worked really well... Newcastle’s own Ross Noble being one of them,” he adds, possibly seeking a browny point for local knowledge.

As it turns out though, Jack has a pocketful of Geordie-soaked conversation points, even if he does struggle with the accent.

“All my accents are terrible,” he says, proving it nicely with an attempt at an American sentence.

His ex-girlfriend from a couple of years ago was from Newcastle, and also just happened to be “the scariest person I’ve ever been out with in my entire life”.

“I don’t talk about her on stage any more like I did in my last show for fear of any kind of vengeance she may seek upon me,” he adds, before happily offering some supporting evidence.

“There was this one time I was in a bar and I had bumped into one of my friends from school - who was a female friend but a really old mate of mine. Without waiting for any kind of explanation of the situation, my (Geordie) girlfriend just walked up and slapped me across the face.

“I’m not sure whether that’s really acceptable behaviour. She properly assaulted me.”

Thankfully another of Jack’s most lasting Geordie relationships has restored his faith in our friendly reputation.

When he was making the Channel Four series Hit The Road Jack last year, he spent time living with families in each of the cities he visited and performed in. When he came to Newcastle, that family included his now good friend, Paulo.

“A genuine friendship came out of that show,” says Jack.

“I mean all the people I stayed with were lovely, but they weren’t really in my age range. Me and Paulo, who lives with his lovely and crazy Italian dad, stayed in touch though and I always go out with him when I’m in Newcastle.

“He’s been down to London a few times too and whenever I’m with Ant (of Ant and Dec fame), we always talk about him because there’s some link with Paulo’s sister and Ant’s family, which I can’t remember,” he adds in his charmingly scatty manner.

“Anyway, he’ll definitely be organising the after show party after the arena gig and, as is usually the case when I’m in Newcastle, I’ll probably get drunk.”

Before the alcohol takes hold though, audiences will be treated to a gig underpinned by Jack’s signature combination of high energy and self deprecation.

“Basically me being humiliated is the theme of the show,” he says.

“I’ve written a lot of the material already and it’s pretty much in a shape. It just needs a couple of months of honing it.”

One of the things he hasn’t worked out yet is how to get his childhood hero, Kriss Akabusi, involved.

As viewers of A League of Their Own - and more recently Never Mind The Buzzcocks - will know, Jack loves the former world champion athlete.

“I don’t remember any of his athletics career, I just remember him from Record Breakers,” he says of Kriss’ spin off TV presenting career. “He’s the nicest man in the world.” He’s so happy and joyous and amazing. I love him. He will definitely be involved somewhere,” he adds emphatically.

It’s a knocking bet though, that the infamous cast of Geordie Shore probably won’t be invited to get involved.

“We just had them on our chat show last week,” laughs Jack talking of BBC3’s Backchat, which he co-hosts with his dad Michael John Whitehall who was a theatrical agent for Judi Dench, Colin Firth and Richard Griffiths,

“It was fun but I don’t think my father could make head nor tail of what they did or what their show was about. He was quite confused.” He’s not alone there.

“Actually, the last time I was in Newcastle, I went into a bar where they were filming Geordie Shore and accidentally found myself in the back of the shot before I realised they were there and got the hell out of there immediately. I didn’t think it would be great for my image”

Jack Whitehall Gets Around plays the Metro Radio Arena Newcastle on March 6, 2014. For tickets, call 0844 493 6666 or visit www.metroradioarena.co.uk . For more information on Jack and upcoming appearances and releases, visit www.jackwhitehalll.com


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