Having watched James Mullinger perform last years show The Man with No Shame at the Camden Fringe, there was a sense of frustration that evening as the material was obviously there but for whatever reason it didn't quite click that night. However, there were no such miscues tonight as Mullinger was largely on song with his new show Living the Dream at The Exhibit Bar in Balham.
Mullinger continues to mine for comedy within the rich seam of his own life and often strikes gold. One of my criticisms of Mullinger's previous performance was his inability to move on when the well was running dry but Living the Dream has a better rhythm and structure than his previous effort. The segues feel much more organic, the jokes explored thoroughly but not overdone and the show builds to a satisfying conclusion. At times, the frantic nature of his performance feels as though Mullinger is channeling a more visceral Michael McIntyre with added bite. And indeed the two both cover the well trodden ground of family life, children, etc. But the similarities begin and end there as Mullinger, through the aid of a powerpoint presentation, explores the darker recesses of his life and mind albeit with a kind of relentless bonhomie and joie de vivre.
Mullinger's candidness tiptoes the line between funny and genuinely sad and he occasionally makes the the mistake of dipping his toe into terrain that's more sympathy inducing than genuinely funny. And Mullinger could be accused at times of falling back on the crutch of adopting a faux angry delivery to incite laughs through some of the weaker parts of his routine. But these relatively minor foibles aside, Mullinger is a very funny man with a big future ahead of him.