James Mullinger is no stranger to Saint John, and thanks to his comedy special, Anything Is Possible, he’s been seen across Canada. The show was broadcast nationwide on CBC as part of City On Fire, a documentary about Saint John: a city that has struggled with self-image and reinvention. It depicts Mullinger’s perception of the city’s potential and the lead-up to his arena-packing show at Harbour Station.
The full comedy show was released on January 22nd in Canada, both digitally on Amazon and Hulu, and at Sunrise Records on Blu-Ray. But it still raises the question: who in Canada hasn’t already seen this, and is it worth it seeing again?
“There are two types of people in Saint John: there are people who haven’t heard of me, and there are people who are sick to fucking death of me,” Mullinger observes early on in his act.
The line probably has some truth to it. Like many Saint John’ers, I was in the audience that night, along with almost everyone I know. It was an inevitability that Mullinger had anticipated and even embraced.
It’s small town humour, without a doubt. It’s a comedy with a cast of several thousands. That shouldn’t be any great stretch for Canadians to relate to. We’re a quirky bunch, and that ability to laugh at ourselves is as Canadian as bagged milk. It’s practically a part of our heritage—at least since the days of SCTV and Bob and Doug MacKenzie.
The difference between those shows and their vague representation of a humorous yet ambiguous concept of Canada and what Mullinger is doing, is that he’s using proper names. The people sitting in the first couple rows get called out as the show turns, occasionally, into a light community roast. It’s as though Mullinger points to the guy in Row 1, Seat 26 and says, “Hey, Canada, know that joke about the proctologist? I bet you didn’t know he lives in Saint John!”
But every town has that guy, or at the very least, a concept of that guy. That guy, even if we know his name and exactly where to find him at work, is still a universal constant. The immediacy of the situation and Mullinger‘s obvious connection and engagement with the community more than serve to emphasize the humour; it is at the very core of it.
Admittedly, Saint John offers up a bit more comedic material than a lot of places and Mullinger‘s observations from his British-comedian-adjusting-to-life-in-a-small-Canadian-city life are worth at least a six episode BBC series. Mullinger‘s enthusiasm for the idiosyncrasies of New Brunswick life is infectious.
James Mullinger’s Anything Is Possible is available on Hulu and Amazon Prime and on Blu Ray from January 22nd at Sunrise Records across Canada, Amazon and James’ website: www.jamesmullinger.com