Drawing on Life's Mistakes ; Called "The Next Big Thing" by Michael McIntyre, Comedian James Mullinger Is among the Stars Appearing at This Year's Birmingham Comedy Festival. He Talks to ROZ LAWS about Feminism and His Love of Kate Winslet

Birmingham Evening Mail (England), October 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Drawing on Life's Mistakes ; Called "The Next Big Thing" by Michael McIntyre, Comedian James Mullinger Is among the Stars Appearing at This Year's Birmingham Comedy Festival. He Talks to ROZ LAWS about Feminism and His Love of Kate Winslet


HE'S the feminist who took Women's Studies at university - then found himself at the centre of a media storm about the portrayal of female stars.

It's ironic that while James Mullinger was working at GQ magazine, he was responsible for airbrushing the controversial cover picture of Kate Winslet. By making her thinner and giving her longer legs, he provoked outrage at the digital manipulation.

But he protests that he, of all people, would never set out to denigrate women.

"I wasn't being sexist, I was just an idiot," says James, who has now found fame as a stand-up comedian.

"I was inexperienced and didn't know what I was doing. God knows why I was left in charge of this.

"The argument against airbrushing is very valid - Kate is beautiful and really didn't need her photo retouched - but I wasn't a misogynist move on my part, just a bad mistake. It should never have happened.

"It was a really traumatic time for me, with everyone saying I was a misogynist, when I'm a hard-core feminist who has been on marches!

"In another ironic twist, I'd actually been Kate's penfriend when I was a teenager. I was obsessed with her character Marianne from Sense and Sensibility and wrote to tell her.

"Weirdly, she wrote back and this exchange went on for months. She said I made her laugh. I didn't get to meet her when she did the GQ shoot, probably because they were worried I had stalker tendencies.

"But at least the whole incident gave me material for my standup act, which is very honest and confessional. Things that other people would try to conceal, I talk about things like losing my virginity, terrible things I've done when drunk and embarrassing sexual encounters.

"I don't go looking for trouble, but when awful things happen to me, I go 'at least this is 10 minutes for the act'."

James frequently performs gigs in aid of women's charities and has a degree in women's studies and English literature.

"I was inspired by my English teacher at school who was dying of lung cancer and taught literally from her death bed," remembers the 35-year-old.

"She taught us feminist ways of reading Chaucer and Jane Austen which I found fascinating, so I decided to study it further.

"A few other men joined the university course as a way of meeting women, but they were soon weeded out. …

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Drawing on Life's Mistakes ; Called "The Next Big Thing" by Michael McIntyre, Comedian James Mullinger Is among the Stars Appearing at This Year's Birmingham Comedy Festival. He Talks to ROZ LAWS about Feminism and His Love of Kate Winslet
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