Text: Rachel Corcoran
Jimmy Carr has become famous for his deadpan delivery and quick wit but he only became a comedian in his 20s after working as a marketing executive for Shell. He made his break in to TV in 2000 and has since hosted the likes of 8 Out of 10 Cats and more recently been on the panel of the 10 O’Clock Show. He lives in North London with his girlfriend of 10 years, commissioning editor Karoline Copping.
Did you enjoy the 10 O’Clock Show?
Oh it was great. It was nice to be in a gang as there doesn’t feel as much pressure as when you’re doing stand up and it’s just you. When 2000 people pay their money, book babysitters, buy a meal and some drinks then you’re like, ‘Oh f**king hell, I hope I’m funny!’ Whereas with David Mitchell I could take it easy as he’s really funny.
Which comedians do you like to watch yourself?
I think it’s a golden age of comedy right now. Stand-up wise I like Peter Kay, Lee Evans, Michael McIntyre, Frankie Boyle and Alan Carr. Russell Howard is fantastic too and Dara O’Brien, I always laugh at whatever he does. There’s just so much out there and for so many different tastes. Comedy’s become an alternative to going to the cinema or the theatre.
What’s the most rock and roll you’ve been?
The sex, the drugs, the rock and roll? Not at all. I opened for the Killers last year and that was fun. But I’m not very rock and roll as I’m not really a boozer. I work every day so if I was drunk on stage, I’d be terrified. And if I was hungover on stage then imagine not being fresh when you have to talk to 2000 people. You have to be very quick if anyone heckles. You can’t say ‘I’ll get back to you in a minute, I feel a bit sleepy’. It would be awful and scary. So there is no drugs or booze. Rubbish.
What about groupies?
Comedy groupies? Sadly not. I say sadly! Comedians aren’t idolised like musicians, actors or sports stars. You meet a musician and you can be quite star struck because you’re like, I could never do that – they have an amazing skill. Whereas everyone’s got a sense of humour. Being able to tell a joke is a very British thing to be proud of.
How do you handle fame, was it hard at the beginning?
It was quite gradual and I think it’s easier for comics because fame doesn’t suddenly hit us. You start at the Edinburgh Festival so I was famous in Edinburgh maybe nine years ago. My first ever Edinburgh show, everyone in that world knew me. But I just had a month of being famous and then came back to London and no one knew who I was. It was a really nice way to get used to that thing of being recognised and people making a fuss of you.
Has fame changed you?
Yeah I’ve totally changed. I don’t think I was moisturising before I got in to this – I wasn’t quite such an insufferable ponce! I’m happier though. I think comedy specifically as opposed to fame makes you very happy because you spend your life trying to find a comedic angle in everything. It’s very much viewing the world through rose tinted glasses because you’re trying to find jokes in the horrible things in life. It’s a very nice way to live.
So you’re quite a ponce then?
Oh no, I’ve realised that you can’t polish a turd – but you can put sprinkles on it can’t you? You do the best with what you’ve got.
Do you feel pressure being scrutinised in the public eye?
The only time I felt pressure was two years ago when I was two stone overweight and I thought I better lose that. I saw myself back on a TV show and I thought ‘Wow, I might have boobs!’ That’s not good is it? It’s not nice boobs on a man. Boobs on a lady – lovely!
If you could give your teenage self any advice what would it be?
It would be stop doing that, you’ll go blind. Maybe put a lock on the door? No really, I would say just relax. I think I’m only just getting more relaxed now. I was very uptight as a teenager. It always felt like life was happening somewhere else, I had a very suburban teenage years. I don’t feel like that so much any more.
What’s been your most showbiz moment?
It’s probably when you realise you’re friends with people that you really looked up to. Like working with Stephen Fry and chatting to him about some documentary he’s making and realising I know him! I mean I know I know him from TV as well but I’ve done a bunch of shows with him and we’re friends and know each other – that’s a weird thing. My theory is that I had some kind of car crash about 10 years ago and now I’m in a coma and this is a weird fantasy world that I’m imagining. This is like the Matrix.
Do you have a long list of things you want to achieve?
I’m very lucky to be, touch wood, where I am. I don’t know how much more I could ask for. I mean I’d love to act, but I’d love to be good at acting! I’m quite happy where I am; I like being a stand up comic and doing my day job. Why do I want to go off and do something else?