Jack Whitehall is currently living his best adult life.
Not only does he get to do a job that he loves — performing and telling jokes for thousands of people — but he gets to travel the world with his father, Michael Whitehall.
While this sometimes proves to be very trying (for Michael, not Jack), their relationship on-screen has brought about some of the best father-son bonding we’ve seen on TV.
Currently in Australia for his national Stood Up tour, the 31-year-old (along with both his parents, Michael and Hilary Gish) have used the time to film scenes for season three of the hit Netflix series, Travels With My Father. A series that wasn’t originally planned.
“It came about a bit randomly,” Jack told TheLatch— in an exclusive interview.
“I was going to do this tour and then I said, well if I’m going out there maybe you [Michael] should come with me and we can film a bit of stuff.”
So far, Jack and his parents have seen the best of what Australia has to offer. They’ve visited Ayres Rock, had some alone time with an Emu and even visited a McDonalds — a place Michael hadn’t been to for 15 years.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to go around Oz,” he said. “It’s been great for the tour as well because you get to experience the country a little bit, acclimatise and pick up some things that you can drop into the show.”
It’s been a positive experience, there was one particular situation on the tour which has left Jack, well, a little mortified.
When we asked if he was “ready to settle down anytime soon” (“Did my mum give you this question?”), Whitehall revealed that his parents “got him speed dating”.
“That was a very traumatic experience,” he admitted. “Speed dating with your mum and dad spying on you…We could start a whole different branch of reality series…”
Of course, Jack’s antics and “taking the piss” out of his dad is very on-brand for the Bad Education star, however, being a larrikin is actually not a full-time gig.
In fact, when speaking to the star over the phone, he was more reserved than expected.
“I always sound so depressed in interviews and then I read it back and I think, ‘people must think I’m on the brink of a breakdown.”
There he is.
“Friends and family definitely don’t want you to be ‘on’ all the time, cracking gags and trying to be funny,” he said. “That would be unbearable.”
Jack’s outgoing nature does have an off-switch and thus has curated (and perfected) the perfect “stage persona”.
“If it’s someone that’s really friendly, you have to make sure you are that most of the time — you know with media and stuff,” he admitted.
“You want to try and be friendly and nice but that’s where I differ from my dad. He’s created the best persona ever because he plays a ‘grumpy git’ and can be rude to people.
“If he’s having a bad day, then he can scowl and tell them [fans] to ‘eff off’ and they’ll love it. Genuinely, people come up to him and ask him: ‘will you tell my friend to eff off’ for a video. It’s so unfair. I wish I had that persona.”
While Michael, who was a television producer and talent agent portrays grumpy, the 79-year-old is quite the opposite.
“He’s always been a really funny person,” Jack said. “He’s always been one of my biggest comedy inspirations. He was always a raconteur and I would watch him, and I always thought ‘yeah, I want to do that for my life’ but he does have a short fuse. It’s useful for when you’re trying to wind him up but sometimes when you get on the wrong side of him, it can be quite brutal.”
In just over a decade, Jack has been in film, TV, has hosted the Brits twice (and a third to come) and is a successful comedian, but there still hasn’t been a moment in his career where he feels he’s “made it”.
“Well, the dream is to be a professional soccer player. I’ve had to accept at 31 it’s probably never going to happen,” he joked.
“The goalpost moves the minute you achieve something,” he said. “You just change what you want to do. I was on TV quite early on in my career and I really did start quite young. I always say I’ve made it when I get the knighthood. I’m way off it though because I do too many jokes about the royal family…”
Yes, Whitehall is more confident than most, but just like anyone else, he’s not immune to being anxious.
“If I’m doing something out of my comfort zone or a high-profile gig or something where I don’t necessarily know how it’s going to go, I get a little bit nervous and a little bit anxious backstage,” he admitted. “It’s all about calming yourself down and getting yourself into the right frame of mind because I guess you’ve got to deliver for your audience.”
Jack’s show Stood Up pulls from his personal life and of course, stories about travelling with his father — ones that don’t quite make the Netflix show.
JACK WHITEHALL Stood Up tour starts Wednesday February 5 and you can get your tickets here.
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