James Mullinger is no slackard. In terms of the sheer volume of output he might be the hardest working person in the Maritimes. From comedy shows, to fundraisers, to television series, to films, he is going non-stop. I can truthfully say that I have never seen him sleep. The prospect of having him as a drill sergeant seems almost terrifying, if he weren’t so determined to make you laugh. There’s a very real potential to get that firsthand experience though, as James Mullinger’s Comedy Boot Camp is getting a second season on Bell Aliant TV1, and they’re looking for new recruits.
The television show sets out to find the funniest new comedians in each of the Atlantic provinces. Comedians or aspiring comedians submit clips of their best stand-up material, which get narrowed down to the top eight by Bell Aliant executives before going to a public vote. The four with the most votes in each province get the honour of being subjected to Comedy Boot Camp. The four comedians spend a day getting coached by Mullinger before being filmed delivering their stand-up in front of a live audience, with one being crowned the funniest comedian in their province.
Mullinger explains that the response to the first season proved to popular, and that the comedians throughout the Martimes are an untapped resource. “The high standard of the comedy here is incredible. I know it was very hard for the Bell Aliant execs to choose the semi finalists, and when it came to the public vote I felt that some really great acts were overlooked. But like life, it’s a competition and luck of the draw.”
The crowned winners of last season have all gone on to do some very impressive things: New Brunswick winner Martin Saulnier is opening for Canadian comedy legend Mike Ward, and will performing at the HubCap Comedy Festival next year. Newfoundland winner Liam Small is now doing stand-up all across Canada. Nova Scotia’s winner Travis Lindsay seems to be creating a buzz within the industry, and Taylor Carver of Prince Edward Island is now doing shows throughout Ontario.
Mullinger remains humble when it comes to the success of his recruits, claiming it was just a bit of experience and a nudge in the right direction that got them their start. “Was any of this down to the competition? Probably not. It’s down to them being awesome comics. But if we gave them any extra confidence boosts and helped in any way, then great. All I want to do is help and give them a wider audience and I think the show did that especially as I was recently informed it received record viewing figures for Fibe TV1. Hence the second season!”
“I would like to think that it is helping the East Coast comedy scene but to be honest it’s the comedians and promoters that are making things happen here. We have some of the best clubs in the country here – Mark Burnett’s Something Funny, Shane Ogden’s Chuckles and now Steven Barnes is opening a Yuk Yuk’s. This will do wonders for the comedy scene here. All I am trying to do with Boot Camp is give the comedians some guidance on how to improve their acts, promote themselves and take it to the next level.”
The show is looking for fresh submission from anyone that can tell a joke, doesn’t fear ripe produce, and looks good against a brick backdrop. It doesn’t hurt if you can keep up with Mullinger’s manic pace either.
The deadline for submissions is 10:00am AST, December 30th 2016. The live final shows will be held in March and April, featuring the four finalists, a local headliner, and of course Mullinger himself. The episodes will be airing Friday, April 21st.
Submission details can be found at www.ComedyBootCamp.ca.