Jimmy Carr

Jimmy Carr

Date of birth: 15-09-1972

A former marketing executive for Shell, Jimmy Carr is one of the hardest-working comedians in the UK, and DVDs of his live shows now sell more than 150,000 copies each.

His first full-length show, Bare-Faced Ambition, was nominated for the Perrier in 2002; and he was named best stand-up at the Time Out Awards in 2003, and at the Laftas in 2004. At the same awards he was named ‘funniest man’ in 2005.

He won the Royal Television Society Award for best on-screen newcomer in 2003, and soon established himself one of the main faces of Channel 4, hosting game show Distraction, the first series of The Friday Night Project, three series of panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats, and several specials such as The Big Fat End of Year Quiz and The Comedians’ Comedian.

Carr has also made headway in the US, performing four times on NBC’s Tonight With Jay Leno and three times on NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He made a half-hour stand-up special for Comedy Central, and hosted two series of Distraction USA for the same network.

He has also appeared in the films Confetti, Alien Autopsy and Stormbreaker, all released in 2006; and has hosted a weekly radio show for London’s XFM.

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The Nasty Show 2019

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Just For Laughs, Montreal

The Nasty Show is one of the cornerstones of the Just For Laugh, billed as the ‘filthiest, most shocking and taboo’ show of the festival.

Though that clearly tells an audience there’s no complaining if you find anything offensive, ‘taboo’ is an interesting choice of word since most of the subject matter on offer has pretty much been the bread-and-butter of R-rated comedy for decades: dicks, pussies, racial stereotypes and Michael Jackson jokes. 

Plus any sense of being underground and edgy is slightly dissipated with the gig being run over several nights in a well-appointed 2,000-seat venue.

Host Bobby Lee set the tone nice and low – well maybe not ‘nice’ – as he mocked Thai names, insinuated that black guys have big penises and wanked off the mic stand. Later he’d do his cunnilingus bit.

Chris ‘Comedian CP’ Powell took up the baton with his old-school comparison of men and women and detailed thoughts on the vagina. And after Lee pleasured the mic stand, Powell fucked the stool, the on-stage paraphernalia getting a right seeing-to tonight. 

However both perform with a punchy energy that brings the laughs, even if they’re unadventurous in their writing.

Bonnie McFarlane proved more interesting, possibly because a female perspective on crude humour still feels different from the norm, especially when doing something like a rape joke or imagining harm comes to her husband (fellow comic Rich Vos, as it happens). But she added some sharp, uncompromising punchlines to the swagger,  which at her best evoke the spirit of Joan Rivers.

Andrew Schultz was probably the hardest hitting comedian on the bill – and when you’re sharing a stage with Jimmy Carr, that’s quite some boast. ‘Abortion’ was the first word out of his mouth in a gag that brought in paedophilia, too. His set is brutal, his delivery forceful and his persona that of a grade-A jerk going as far as he can. But he’s got funny bones and a sharp mind: these are not just blunt-force gags like some on the bill, but well-engineered dirty gags.

The same, of course, could be said about Carr’s unapologetically amoral gags, many of which he also performed at the Brit(ish) showcase. Despite the auspicious setting, he read many of his jokes from a clipboard, suggesting they are still work-in-progress but also giving an extra air of officious authority, as if his accent wasn’t already doing the heavy lifting in that department.

His set was given extra frisson after finding a blind couple in the front row – ‘did you really need such good seats?’ he asks them – and, of  course, he had a barrage of jokes about their disability, delivered and received in good humour. Though Carr was less forgiving of the guy who kept chatting through his set.

Jessiemae Peluso brought the topic back to vaginas, though at least it was hers to speak of. But by this point in the evening, talk of squirting and the clitoris had lost much of its power to shock. The images might be memorable, but you couldn’t really say the same about the jokes.

Finally Big Jay Oakerson, who seemed off-form tonight, with less of the craft and playfulness he displayed at this festival last year. It meant his defence of the word ‘retard’ – already on shaky moral ground – didn’t convince, while Michael Jackson jokes felt a little dated, even if the Leaving Neverland documentary leant them a veneer of topicality.

He claimed that bad-taste jokes ’bring light from the darkness’, and the best ones certainly do, especially when they are personal. But they can also be smug, heartless chuckling from a safe distance, which Oakerson’s often were.

Inside Jokes

Later that same night, Schultz further proved what a quick-witted comic he was, improvising fantastically fierce payoffs as he hosted Inside Jokes, a raucous show which talked about politically incorrect gags and how some of the guests had edgy material they couldn’t always land. With input from Schultz, they now might.

The tone sometimes felt a bit frat-boy, based on what appeared to be a  long-standing bromance between Schultz and Vos which sometimes got self-indulgent – and virtually shut out the mild-mannered Lucas Bros from most of the night’s conversations. But the audience got plenty of bang for their money.

And Canadian comic Mike Ward’s discussion of his cause celebre human rights case –  fined the equivalent of £25,000 over bad-taste jokes at the expense of a disabled child – was bitter, fascinating and funny… even if the original gag wasn’t.

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Published: 28 Jul 2019

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