Impertinent Questions for James McNicholas

James McNicholas
Photograph by Idil Sukan

What is your favourite synonym for “bum”?

Badonkadonk. It’s fun to say, it’s an onomatopoeia – it’s got everything you’d want really.

Whose swearing makes you laugh the most?

People who aren’t supposed to swear. Newsreaders.

Who should come to see your show and why?

Everyone should come. It’s ostensibly about boxing, but it’s really about family, fighting and (very briefly) jellyfish. If you’re a fan of my sketch group BEASTS you should come. If you aren’t a fan of BEASTS you should also come because this is different.

Who are you excited about seeing this year?

My mate from BEASTS Ciaran Dowd is bringing his brilliant Don Rodolfo character back to the Pleasance, this time having laid down his sword (and presumably his penis) to don the dog collar and become Padre Rodolfo. Meanwhile Tom Parry, who worked with us on BEASTS and has directed The Boxer, has got himself a properly joyful stand-up show. I’ve seen both in preview and they’re going to be fantastically funny.

I’m also directing a show by newcomer Raphael Wakefield called Wengerball. It’s the story of Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal, but it’s told with real warmth and proper jokes. Raphael’s a very talented lad and it makes me simultaneously proud and jealous.

Imagine you come off stage and find a wish come true. Which food/drink/present/person would be waiting for you?

I’m usually pretty knackered after the show, so ideally there’s nobody there to greet me – but, inexplicably, there’s a vase full of peanut butter milkshake. Heaven.

Describe your perfect day at the Fringe.

I wake up and I am thinner and more handsome. I fly to the venue (because I can fly now) and they tell me my show is sold out forever, so I perform a ceremonial burning of the all flyers and publicity material. I perform the show, and during it I realise I’m not wearing my glasses but it doesn’t seem to matter – my vision has been magically fixed. At the end of the show, everyone just starts getting off with each other. I leave because it’s actually a bit awkward. And then I have that milkshake.

How long does it take to come down after a show and how do you do it?

In BEASTS, I was infamous for taking a long time to get changed etc after the show. I like to take some time to clear my head and clean my body. A pint straight after the show usually helps.

In the game “Would You Rather?” what’s the hardest choice you have had to make?

“Would you rather have creative fulfilment, or a stable income?” And I ask myself it every day.

Whats your favourite Brexit metaphor?

I really don’t think James Acaster’s teabag metaphor can be beaten.

Who or what helped you believe you were going to make it in comedy?

Audiences. That’s the brilliantly meritocratic thing about comedy: if you can make an audience laugh, that’s enough.

Tell us something your agent doesnt want us to know.

There are too many things. I’ll tell you something my agent doesn’t want you to know: she sleeps with a hammer and a gun under a pillow. And that’s not a joke.

Buy tickets for James McNicholas: The Boxer here

4.15pm | Pleasance Courtyard | 31 July, 1-13, 15-25 Aug


Published by Punchline

Your secret source of comedy knowledge at the Edinburgh Fringe

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