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Interview: Traitors and Film Noir Meet at Camden Fringe

The Camden Fringe Interviews

Callum Jones on The Strange Affair of Paul

We continue our series of Camden Fringe Interviews by hunting down Callum Jones, who himself has been hunting down the mysterious Paul from The Traitors Australia. Luckily we were successful in not only finding Callum, but more importantly, getting him in a room for long enough to answer some very important questions his show The Strange Affair of Paul, which will be making its way to Hen and Chickens Theatre in August.

Hi Callum, great to chat. Let’s dive in with some intorudctions shall we?

My name is Callum Jones, I’m a comedy writer and performer from sunny South Wales and I’m the one man behind the one-man show that is The Strange Affair of Paul. I’ve previously written for BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz and DMs Are Open and completed my MA in Scriptwriting a couple of years ago. Disappointingly, despite being Welsh, I don’t have the accent. 

So, what should we expect from your show then?

It sounds cliched, but they can expect to be entertained. The Strange Affair of Paul is a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously – it’s fun, silly, has a high joke count, and is unlikely to be like anything audiences have seen before. Because it’s a parody of film noir AND all about reality TV, it’s the perfect fusion of high-brow and low-brow. 

We’re sure that’s already grabbed some attention. So where do we need to be to see it then?

The show will be on at the Hen & Chickens Theatre in Highbury from the 5th-7th August. I was keen to secure the Hen & Chickens because it’s a venue I’m very familiar with – I’ve performed in a couple of sketch shows there and I’ve visited it to watch Fringe shows in previous years. It’s a great little venue and just the right size for the kind of show I wanted to do. Also, on a more practical (and boring) level, the show makes use of videos projected onto a backdrop, so it was important to go with a venue that had a projector.

What was your inspiration to write this then?

The show is all about one man’s obsession with trying to find out why a contestant on the Australian version of The Traitors (which I highly recommend, by the way) was cut almost entirely out of the show. I, like others, watched The Traitors Australia and was completely bemused as to why this random guy kept appearing in the background of shots. When I looked online, I found that lots of other people had also picked up on Paul’s lack of screen time. There were some crazy theories as to why that was – everything from him being a raging alcoholic to an FBI agent! I just knew I had to do something with this story, and I’d been fascinated by the film noir genre for a while, so it seemed like the perfect fit. Me and Paul are now buddies! 

What do you want audiences to be thinking as they leave the theatre?

‘Wow, that was both refreshingly original and laugh-out-loud hilarious! I must see more of that guy’s work!’

Are there any plans for what comes next after August – for you or the show?

There aren’t any fixed plans currently, but I would like to take the show to the Brighton Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe in 2025. I’d also like to do more with the character of Sam Marlowe – the wannabe noir detective I play in the show. I’m thinking a podcast where he has to solve a different low-stakes modern-day mystery each episode. Other than that, I’m just going to keep writing! 

What made you decide to be part of Camden Fringe this year?

I was actually meant to perform a one-man show at the Camden Fringe back in 2020, but that didn’t end up happening (I can’t for the life of me remember why!). So, for the last four years I’ve had a strong desire to finish what I set out to do, and a mixture of the right idea and the right timing in my personal life has meant that 2024 has ended up being the year. Ironically, the show I was meant to perform in 2020 revolved around the end of the world, and then we were plunged into a global pandemic. If I was smarter, I would’ve made this show all about me winning the lottery! 

Who is going to play you when your autobiography is snapped up by Hollywood when you’re a world-renowned writer/ performer in years to come?

Timothee Chalamet. Not because we look alike or anything, it just seems like he really needs the work right now, poor guy. 

And because we’re sure this is the question everyone wants to know about your show now – If you had to describe it as a meal, what would it be?

A posh fish and chips – the perfect combo of high-brow and low-brow and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. 

Thanks to Callum for finding time to chat about The Strange Affair of Paul. The show will be playing at Hen and Chickens Theatre for Camden Fringe between 5 and 7 August. Further information and tickets can be found here.

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