James Mullinger has never been afraid of exposing himself… just ask his family doctor, or any of the tens of thousands of people he’s entertained with the hilarious and deeply personal details of his vasectomy. In his equally as funny and entertaining new book, Brit Happens: Or Living the Canadian Dream, Mullinger goes far beyond the jokes and his two life-changing journeys: to become a comedian and to become a Canadian. He invites the reader into the deepest corners of his memories. And it is not all as cheeky and cheerful as the author’s public persona.
Mullinger is honest about his difficult and lonely childhood; despite the support of loving parents, he suffered at the hands of school bullies. Describing himself as “odd” he details his insecurities, his solitary pursuits which have turned into lifelong hobbies, and his struggles with his mental health. Despite this, the reader comes to know Mullinger not just as a funny man, but also as a charming, endearing and truly caring one, who dearly loves not only his wife, his children, and his many friends but also the community and country he now calls home. “Perhaps I was always meant to be a Canadian.” he says right at the beginning.
Liberally sprinkled with laugh out loud moments (be careful where you read this book!) fans will recognize stories from his stand-up routine given a new and fuller telling. He is also brutally honest about the struggle to break into comedy, of the toll comedy takes in the lives of those who live it, of the friends he has lost to it.
W. Somerset Maugham wrote “It is so like the sadness which you may see in the jester’s eyes when the merry company is laughing at his sallies; his lips smile and his jokes are gayer because in the communion of laughter he finds himself more intolerably alone.”
This is never more apparent than in Mullinger’s book. Perhaps because of this he remains humble about meeting several of his celebrity heroes and inhabiting the rarified circles of his London life and career. Perhaps it is because he is more self-aware and philosophical than most people. Or perhaps it’s because of karaoke and Sir Paul McCartney.
As multi-faceted as it’s author, Brit Happens is a manifesto of living life to the fullest, of seizing opportunities when they are offered, of creating opportunities when they aren’t, and of letting the joys and hardships of life inspire and move you to give to others. It is equal parts moving and inspiring, and really, really funny.
James Mullinger is an award-winning British comedian and the co-founder of [Edit] Magazine. He spent fifteen years at GQ before moving to Canada. He has appeared on CBC’s The Debaters, at theatres throughout Canada, and in stand-up specials and movies. And yes, he lives in Saint John — or at least nearby.
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