Sunday, September 19, 2004


Jimmy Carr, Birmingham Alexandra Theatre, Saturday September 18th 2004.

A last-minute change of plan (women troubles, say no more) saw me scuttling off to see Jimmy Carr at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham last night. I reasoned that even if he turned out not to be particularly funny, it would still cheer me up that he had an even weirder face than me.

The thing about Jimmy Carr is that, despite some modern-ish trappings such as his XFM radio show, he's pretty much a comedian from the old school. His recent tabloid-monitored spat with Jim Davidson over a 'borrowed' joke simply highlighted the fact that both comics were dealing in similar material (in this case, laughing at fat women) and yet one is deemed moderately acceptable, the other not. Why is this? It's perhaps partly down to class ('I'm middle-class but I'm hard', Carr declares, 'a bit like al dente you might say...and if you got that reference I've got news for you - you're middle-class too!') but a lot to do with the fact that Carr is actually pretty bloody funny. You may not like him (and in fact, it may even help if you don't) but you find yourself laughing loud and often anyway.

Carr has something of the Bob Monkhouse about him, with his slightly smarmy self-regarding airs and the way he skilfully integrates a long string of mainly-unrelated one-liners into a reasonable fascimile of a conversational style. He resembles the kid from school who always tried to be best mates with the teachers in sixth form and had an unhealthy worship for Margaret Thatcher, but fair play to him, he seems to be on a career roll at the moment, and he's off to the States today to start filming the first US series of 'Distraction' ("it's going to be much more fun torturing Americans, don't you think?", he argues, "I'm thinking of calling it 'Guantanamo'").

Carr states at the beginning of the performance that the show is not for the easily offended, and that's about right as much of the humour is at the expense of kids with learning difficulties; cancer sufferers; people with things stuck up their arses and folk from Norfolk, sometimes all in one gag. Nothing particularly original in all that, but he gets away with it all because his timing and wordplay ensures that he's funny throughout. Despite the fairly unpleasant and distasteful nature of the aforementioned material, it's only when Carr briefly touches upon the political (a joke about how only the truly stupid would associate Saddam Hussein with 9/11) that he gets a few muttered 'fuck off' comments from the crowd. But then that's middle-class audiences for you: joke all you like about sick kids and the disabled and the Welsh but start picking on the establishment and boy are you in trouble. But Jimmy, we thought you were one of us?


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