British comedian Jimmy Carr encourages heckling at his shows

British comedian Jimmy Carr will perform his stand-up show, Funny Business, here tomorrow and on Wednesday.
British comedian Jimmy Carr will perform his stand-up show, Funny Business, here tomorrow and on Wednesday.PHOTO: LA COMEDY LIVE

The British comedian says he encourages heckling at his shows so the audience can do some of the work

8Q

British comedian Jimmy Carr is unapologetic about his acerbic and at times controversial jokes.

He tells The Straits Times in a telephone interview from London, where he is based: "Some people will find my stuff funny, others won't, and that is totally fine. I'm a great believer in the adage that offence is taken, not given."

Known for his razor-sharp oneliners, Carr, 43, is on his biggest world tour yet - travelling to 30 nations - for his stand-up show, Funny Business, and will perform here tomorrow and on Wednesday at the University Cultural Centre Hall.

This is his first performance in Asia. He will also make stops in Hong Kong and Bangkok.

  • BOOK IT / JIMMY CARR: FUNNY BUSINESS (R18)

  • WHERE: University Cultural Centre Hall, National University of Singapore, 50 Kent Ridge Crescent

    WHEN: Tomorrow, 8pm, and Wednesday, 7.30pm

    ADMISSION: $98 to $158 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

"I can't believe Singapore's luck," he quips as he lands joke after joke throughout this interview.

Carr, who has a long-term girlfriend of 15 years, is arguably one of the best-dressed comedians around. You will never catch him in a T-shirt or tucked-out shirt at any of his gigs. The dapper funnyman is a " big fan" of a well-fitted suit and gets his from British bespoke tailor Thom Sweeney.

Carr sees his comedy style as "less observational and more old-fashioned in format".

"I like the idea of just doing jokes. I'm not trying to change the way anyone thinks or blow his mind," he explains.

He has been working hard to spread his brand of humour beyond Britain since he started out 16 years ago.

On the road for the past 18 months, he has travelled to "basically every place", including the United States, South Africa, Australia, Serbia, Germany and Iceland.

He had to reschedule his shows in Singapore from last month because he had the opportunity to be part of American channel Comedy Central's Roast of actor Rob Lowe.

"Sorry for any inconvenience caused, but I was being careerist," he says.

Besides working the stand-up circuit, he is a familiar face on British television. He hosts popular comedy panel shows such as 8 Out Of 10 Cats and annual show The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year.

Stand-up will always be his first love, though.

"It's a lovely experience because you are in a room with people with the same sense of humour."

1 What were you doing before comedy?

I used to do marketing for oil company Shell and was just so bored. Telling jokes felt like a fun thing to do and I thought it could be more than just a hobby. And it turned out to be.

2 How would define your sense of humour?

I find sort of rude, aggressive and transgressive humour to be very funny, so that's what I like to write and tell people.

3 Who are some of your comedy influences?

My inspiration initially for getting into comedy was that very shortform Emo Philips, Steven Wright kind of one-liner stuff - that is what I love.

I also remember seeing a comedian, John Moloney, right when I started, and he came on stage and said, 'I'll start with some jokes.'  He did 10 one-liners right off the bat, then told a longer story. 

I remember thinking I would like to do a show where it is just that, where you have that first opening salvo of bang, bang, bang and it never lets up. That's partially where my act came from, I suppose.

4 Are there any no-go topics for your shows?

No, I don't think so. There are certain topics that are more sensitive and if you do have a joke that is, it has to be really good to warrant doing it.

5 There is a lot of heckling during your shows. Are you bothered by it?

Oh, I absolutely love and encourage it. In a room of 1,000 people, I'm not the only one with a sense of humour, so it's nice to let others join in.

Plus, they can take some of the weight off my shoulders as well. They can do some of the work.

6 What is the funniest wisecrack a person has made about you?

The best one I heard recently was when someone said to me, "I can't believe how realistic American ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's puppets are becoming."

7 If you were not a comedian, what career path would you consider?

I would be destitute and in all kinds of trouble. Thank God for jokes.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

With a smile.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Jimmy Carr loves being heckled'. Print Edition | Subscribe