Interview: James Malcolm On His Sexuality and Being a Billy T Nominee

This week I was lucky enough to interview New Zealand comedian James Malcolm. James Malcolm was the winner of the 2014 Raw Comedy Quest and one of the 2016 Billy T award nominees.


Starting with Class Comedians, a programme that picks two people from high schools and teaches them how to do stand up, James Malcolm has been doing stand up comedy for a few years now. “I really just did it because I wanted to do stand up at a whole school assembly,” James tells me, laughing. He then went on to do gigs and open mics at bars around Wellington. “My parents always had to come with me because I was underage.”

His favourite moment in his comedy career was doing AotearoHA Rising Stars this year, hosted by Urzila Carlson. “It was one of those moments when I came on stage and did my opening line and I got a roar of laughter, it felt like it hit me in the face. It was amazing.”

“The dream would be to have my own talk show but you know, I’m not betting large amounts of money on that happening,” James laughs. “But I definitely want comedy to be my full time career in New Zealand. I think that’s achievable.” James is planning on going to America next year and doing gigs in New York City and Los Angeles. “I want to be at the point where I can go over to New York City semi regularly.”


James Malcolm’s biggest comedy hero is Joel Creasey, an Australian comedian. “I really look up to him a lot because we talk about similar things. He came to New Zealand and I got to be on the same line-up as him which was amazing.” Around the same time that Joel came to New Zealand, James was receiving a lot of criticism in the media, particularly for being almost “too gay”. “It was really good to have Joel here, because he basically told me to keep on doing what I’m doing.”

One piece of advice for a teenager who wants to do comedy is to find your voice, “which is not something you can rush, especially as a teenager,” James tells me. As a teen doing comedy James wrote his jokes about how “school’s lame” or “my parents are so annoying”. “It’s one of those things where your comedy is going to be quite generic to start off with because you haven’t lived a vastly unique life yet, but that shouldn’t stop you.”

James Malcolm was nominated for the 2016 Billy T award, which he tells me was the best experience of his life. “It was very cool, I cried when they told me. It made me three times a better comedian than I was before I did it because I had lots of eyes on me, I had to get better and I had to push myself to do well.”

Marry Me Chris Warner was James Malcolm’s very first solo show this year at the 2016 New Zealand International Comedy Festival. “It was pretty fucking awesome for a first solo show,” James says. “I’m very proud of it, it was a very cool representation of where I was at that point. I learnt a lot from it which I think will make next years show a lot better.” However, James tells me that he does not want to do anything like it again. “I don’t regret doing it at all, but next year I want to celebrate me and not someone else. I want to be myself and not play a character. In Wellington it was actually on at the same time that Shortland Street played on television,” James laughs.

A huge part of James’ stand up is his sexuality, which is something he’s very proud of. He even came out on stage. “At around 17 I did a joke about being gay before I had come out to anyone, including my family. I really really love stand up and just wanted to do what was honest”

“It’s super important that we have as much visibility in the media as possible, like Urzila Carlson, Joel Creasey, and myself in a small way.” The way James talks about being gay helps people, because they can see him and think that it’s okay to be who they are. “I talk about it in a way that makes it not much of a big deal and I like it think that it does make a difference and it does help people.” He talks about his sexuality in a way where he’s just talking about his life. “I slept with a dude because this is my life and that’s what I do. Through this journey of self discovery in comedy has made me love my gayness a lot more and be more proud of who I am,” James tells me.

Like James Malcolm on Facebook: and follow him on Twitter: For information on his upcoming shows.

If you would like to be interviewed on The Fangirl Stories, feel free to contact me.

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