James Malcolm talks with his hands and drops jokes into light-speed sentences without pausing to see how they’re received. Sometimes, he says something shocking and then giggles at the reaction. James describes himself as flamboyant, and he’s not wrong, he’s also endearing and infectious and self-aware.
Tell me three facts about you.
I would say, I am very loud, very gay, and I’m obsessed with Chris Warner from Shortland Street.
Why are you obsessed with Chris Warner from Shortland Street?
He’s actually what I’m doing my show about. I just think that he is New Zealand’s sexiest man, and I just want to marry him, pretty much. He’s the one, and I want Rachel to back off my man. Rachel McKenna.
So, is this Chris Warner as in the character?
Yes the character, I’m not interested in any… Michael Galvin, who’s that? Chris Warner, it’s the whole package, him as a doctor, saving people’s lives and stuff.
Have you ever met the actor, Michael Galvin?
I haven’t but… he knows about the show, so I’m hoping to meet up with him.
What’s your style of comedy?
I talk about pop culture, I’m very flamboyant. I just talk about my life, being gay, boys I date, sexual escapades.
[laughs] Well… at times. Not all the time. Sometimes I’m just talking about my fav gal Suzanne Paul.
She’s a worthy topic of conversation.
You can’t get risqué with Suzanne Paul, she’s like a nana. Although, recently I got criticized by someone for being too gay, and I got told I should probably tone it down, which I thought was ridiculous and totally homophobic. I was so annoyed about it that I wrote a big joke about being in a relationship with Suzanne Paul. So it is actually a little bit risqué because I talk about bed habits with Suzanne Paul. Of course Chris Warner is still my main man.
Are you in a relationship?
What if you meet the love of your life, and then you have two loves of your life, what’s going to happen?
It’s 2016, we’re at a time where I think we can have more than one. The show is called Marry Me Chris Warner, it’s a wedding, but after that I can get a quickie divorce, I’m not too worried about it.
So how long have you been working on your show for? It sounds very set in stone…
I’ve been working on it for 3 or 4 months. I’m almost finished the first draft of it, because I figure, if I finish the first draft of it and it’s terrible, I have three months to make it good. It’s just basically me being this crazy delusional human, who has set up this wedding for Chris Warner just expecting him to turn up. Pretty much the whole show is going to be me being stood up at the altar, being like, “He’s coming, I promise.” And talking about my life and saying, “Chris and I are perfect for each other, here’s why…” So yeah it’s going to be crazy, really weird. Good weird, and very flamboyant, fun and campy.
What never fails to make you laugh?
Shortland Street, it never fails to make me laugh. I’m going very Shortland Street on this interview I’m sorry. I just think it’s such a great show, but such a ridiculous show at the same time. And I love it, I love it to bits, I don’t want anyone thinking I don’t love it. Also because, I don’t want Shortland Street to sue me for making this show, so I’m going to stay on their good side. I love them. But it’s a ridiculous show and it always makes me laugh.
Do you watch it every night?
I try to.
I actually watched a part of it last night for the first time in years.
I missed last night so tell me what happened.
Well it was like, what’s his name. I don’t know… the tall actor with the bald head. He’s got crutches at the moment because he’s gone through something.
I don’t know… Anyway, he seems very stressed out about stuff.
His wife just died, if it is Murray.
But then he was pashing another girl.
Ooooh it’s Drew! Sorry, it’s Drew! Is he pashing Harper?!
She’s got brown hair?
He’s pashing Harper! Claps hands with glee.
Yeah, they pashed.
I’ve been waiting for that all week.
She was talking to him about his trauma and then he said, you should probably go, and she said, I’m going to stay. And he was like, why? And she said, you know why. And then they pashed.
Yasss! Because do you know she just broke up her marriage. The cliffhanger for Shortland Street was her and this guy getting married, and there was a shooting at the hospital so their marriage got cancelled. And then Drew got shot, the bald guy, and she’s been comforting him a little too much. It’s ridiculous, and so Boyd, who she was going to marry, was like, “you’re spending too much time with him, so I don’t think we should get married anymore.” Which is ridiculous because he got shot. You’re allowed to comfort someone if they got shot.
But there is something going on.
There is something going on. It’s still kind of weird that he jumped to that conclusion when, clearly, it’s fine. If someone gets shot you’re allowed to comfort them, that’s not cheating.
You’re totally allowed to hook up with them and everything.
I think so.
How did you get into comedy?
There’s this programme that the comedy trust runs called Class Comedians. They go around schools, and they pick one or two people from each school to audition, and train them up to do comedy. I did that when I was 17 in Wellington. It’s in Wellington and Auckland. That’s how I started, and I was just going to do it, like most people I think, just to have fun and to do something during the school holidays. I think most people’s end game for it, and what my end game was going to be, was getting to do comedy in front of the school assembly. But I kind of just fell in love with it and kept doing it. It’s been great. I came out through comedy. The first time I ever told anyone I was gay, including my parents, was when they were sitting in the audience at a comedy show and I told a joke about it.
Wow. What happened?
It was fine. I went to Wellington High School, which, I don’t know if you know much about Wellington High School, but every third kid is gay. That night someone came up to me and they were like, “I really like how you’re gay, and you talk about it, but you only talk about it once and then you move on and then you never talk about it again, it’s like you’re not rubbing it in our face.” So then I had to go home and write ten more gay jokes so that no one ever gave me that compliment again.
What a terrible thing to say.
I get it a lot, it’s awful. It’s so stupid because, as I said, someone recently criticized me for doing too much gay material.
Now you’ve gone in the opposite direction.
Yeah this is what I want. This is my dream and it’s come true. I have one joke where the punchline is, “I’m gay.” And I just tell that at the start to get people on board with the fact that I’m gay. Every other joke that I tell is only gay in the sense that I’m talking about going on a date with a guy. That doesn’t make it a gay joke. If a straight person told a joke about going on a date with a girl, it’s not a straight joke, so why is…? You know?
Do you remember your first ever gig?
Yep. For class comedians they get us to do a showcase, but they got us to do a show before that, a practice before we got in front of our friends and stuff. I don’t remember much about it, I just remember one thing. I hadn’t come out at this point, when you’re 17 your jokes are all going to be about, “my parents are so lame.” I had a joke about getting an iPod or something, and one of the comedians was like, “I think that would be funnier if you said, like, ‘at least I can skip past songs I don’t like on my ipod, not like womens’ conversations…amirite?!'” I was just this 17 year old kid, I didn’t know any better, and so I added that in for one set, and I hated myself for doing it. That was my first gig. We got paid $20 for it.
Who are you favourite comedians?
Joel Creasey, in Australia. Gay comedian. I emailed him when I got criticized for being too gay, and asked him for advice and he is so super supportive. We met once and it was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me, he came to New Zealand and I was like, “I have to get on that show.” So I begged Scott, who runs The Classic. I got to meet him, and he laughed at some of my jokes, it was so good. I really like him and I really like his jokes. Um…. also Justine Smith, from New Zealand.
Hilarious. That chick.
My queen. Absolute queen.
As a last word, tell me why people should come to your show.
Because you don’t want to be the one person who misses out on Chris Warner’s gay wedding.
James’ show, Marry Me Chris Warner, is playing at The Classic from 10-14 May.
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