Fresh Meat: Jack Whitehall – John Bishop saved my student comedy night

"The first night we did it our headliner pulled out so I frantically called round to find a replacement. Someone gave me the name of a stand-up based up north that I'd never heard of..."

Who do you play?
I play JP, a brash, idiotic public school boy who masks his insecurity with bravado and objectionable comments about women.


Did Fresh Meat bring back memories?
Yes, I went to Manchester to study history of art but was only there for 18 months before I dropped out to do stand-up. I certainly knew public school boys like JP who I drew on for inspiration, especially an Eton rugby-type I lived with. I haven’t told him yet so hopefully if he watches he won’t realise…

What do you remember about your university days?
Being sprayed with foam in a smelly club. I can understand why you might have a foam party in Ibiza but not in Manchester on a Tuesday night. It was just disgusting.

There was another club night where you had to go in a coloured T-shirt: red if you were in a relationship; amber if you weren’t sure; and green if you were up for it. So obviously there was a sea of men wearing green, five women wearing red dresses and one big munter in the middle of the dance-floor wearing green. It was not a successful night in terms of meeting a future wife.

Did you get involved in any extra-curricular activities?
I ran a student comedy night. The first night we did it our headliner pulled out at the last minute so I had to frantically call round to find a replacement. Someone gave me the name of a stand-up based up north that I’d never heard of and he kindly agreed to do it for no money. It was John Bishop.

Where did you live?
The Tower: a former council flat block that had been converted into university accommodation. It is notorious in Manchester as a tower of decadence and debauchery. People used to do the “tower challenge” where you had to down a shot on each floor and would always find someone passed out on each level. I lived on the 14th floor and never got any sleep.

What was your tipple of choice?
Jagermeister. It was always Jagermeister.

And nourishment?
I didn’t really eat any Hall food because they always used to serve it at ridiculous times. I had a whole book of meal tokens that I never used. Maybe I should go and cash them in now.


Fresh Meat was your first proper acting role. How does it compare to stand-up?
I’m enjoying it but it’s very different because there’s so much more spontaneity in stand-up. You know whether you live or die in a moment, whereas this is quite stop and start, and it’s hard to gauge whether you’re doing it right. Maybe I should have gone in at the shallow end – taken a part in EastEnders perhaps.