Jimmy Carr's Bare Faced Ambition Perrier nominee

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Jimmy Carr's such a prolific gag-merchant, he would have no problem filling an hour with his well-crafted one-liners.

Whether an audience would be ready for it is another matter entirely.

For while his aloof, middle-class delivery and callous, superior attitude can provide a deliciously sarcastic framework for his comedy, it's perhaps not the warmest persona for an intimate chat.

He does try, though. Despite repeatedly claiming not to do banter ("on account of being a bit shit at it"), Carr does attempt some audience interaction, even going as far as greeting the paying customers as they walk in. It has mixed success, sometimes eliciting some good put-downs, but equally often leading down blind alleys.

Never mind, though, for Carr always has an escape route should proceedings stumble - in the form of a clipboardful of sublimely efficient gags.

These are, almost without exception, sold gold. Though this subdued audience greeted them mainly by wry smiles and smatterings of giggles, they are worth a better reaction, especially if you haven't heard him before.

Carr's gags are deceptively memorable. Easily quotable, they lodge in the unconscious, so you'll never walk past, say, an airport information desk again without recalling the relevant punchline.

Away from the one-liners, things are a little less assured. Carr has a couple of tricks with which to vary the pace of the show, but usually for the worse.

The spoof letters he sent off contain a few gems, but they often need to be put into context, which slows things down; a mock interview conducted by an audience member basically involves Carr's one-liners, but with the timing demolished by an inept straightman; and some of the unabashed self-promotion ideas provide more strong gags, but hampered by an unnecessary structure.

But the one-liners never fail, delivered in the style of a slightly bemused vicar - a kind of 21st century Derek Nimmo with puns - which allows him to remain bemused by modern culture, yet slip in knowing references to Kafka or Beckett as a nod to the intelligensia.

For these unequalled examples of the gag-writer's art, Carr easily deserves his four stars. Well done, him.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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