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My Mentor: Jack Whitehall

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The comedian explains how talent spotter-turned-producer Ben Cavey has been crucial to his career

I met Ben Cavey when I was performing at the Edinburgh Festival, aged 17.

He was a young producer just starting in the industry, talent spotting. He came to my show after I’d given him a flyer. I was performing in front of 10 people in a tiny room. My stand-up was terrible, I’d never done gigs before and thought I could do it. He saw something in me and we stayed in contact. If he hadn’t been there that day I’d be on a completely different trajectory.    

He told me I was great. He was the first person to do that.

I think he spotted I could perform to a better standard than the material I was doing, and he recognised there might be something worth pursuing. He gave me the time of day. After that he’d come to my parents’ house and I would perform my routine so we could develop it. He’d see it so many times – instead of laughing he’d just say “laugh” after a joke.

His career has gone amazingly well since then.

He’s now creative director of comedy and entertainment at Tiger Aspect and produces Benidorm. We came up with Bad Education, wrote the pilot together and he produces it to this day. He made me believe I could write – I didn’t think I could do it. Every stand-up I’ve done he’s been the director. I always run my shows by him. He’s really in demand but stays very involved with me.

He’s always been there for me when things have gone wrong.

I made a joke about the Queen on television and the Daily Mail went mental and started a Sachsgate-style attack. It didn’t work but Ben was there to call me up and say, “See it out, it’ll be fine, just keep your head down, it’ll go away.” He’s always there for me, just a phone call away. If I have a bad gig or need some advice then I speak to him. Every now and then you bomb. Once you go through the turmoil, grief and dying on your arse, he’s there. It is so valuable to have someone to give you guidance, it’s really vital.

He’s my best friend.

It’s fun working with your mates; it can put stress on a relationship, but we’ve remained best friends. He’s a good sounding board. In comedy you need that. Pitching a joke is nerve-racking. You need honest people around you to laugh if it’s good, tell you if it isn’t. James Corden will be annoyed I haven’t said he’s my mentor. He tells people he is. He is a bit.

Jack Whitehall Gets Around: Live From Wembley Arena is out now

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