Alan Carr

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

There’s something instantly reassuring about Alan Carr’s almost stereotypical persona as the prissy, judgmental queen. Us Brits somehow accept such cattily uncharitable behaviour as long as it’s camped up – as evidenced by everyone from Kenneth Williams to Graham Norton – and Carr camps it up more than anyone.

Sensibly, the first target of that withering wit is himself. Or at least his awkward, miserable, bullied schoolboy self that seems to bear little resemblance to the gossipy person we see today. He was, of course, always the one to be picked last for games – which was remarkable since he comes from something of  a footballing dynasty, with his  father a former manager of Northampton Town.

It’s Carr’s contention that his lack of sporting prowess proves he was born into the wrong family – and it’s got a ring of believability: surely he must be related to Frankie Howerd somehow.

His unspoken gripe that rides on this is: how someone so precious as him could have wound up with the life he has – living on a rough Manchester estate and, until comedy came along, working in the unglamorous environs of a Barclaycard call centre.

Well, that’s the subtext for what is, really, an hour of cutting comments and unabashed bitching about anyone who Carr thinks is inferior to him. Which turns out to be quite a population. There’s not much of a structure, save for a Top Trumps prop he doesn’t really need. Instead he vitriolically dismisses all that annoys him.

It’s a very old-fashioned form of stand-up, but in a good way. It’s so traditional that when he says, ‘she was rough’, it almost requires the age-old response ‘How rough was she?’ just to feed into the punchline. He goes without it, but you can almost feel the line echoing down from the ghosts of music-hall acts gone by.

He occasionally goes for broad targets – such as the comedy punchbag that is ginger people – but manages to find his own jokes about them. But most often it’s the little details that provide fodder for his stinging wit, judging people by the smallest of things.

The hour whizzes by, such is the appeal of this familiar but still spiky style. It’s all utterly inconsequential, of course, but so nicely done as to be worth a peek.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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