wed 27/10/2021

Jimmy Carr, Palace Theatre review - rape gags and risible claims | reviews, news & interviews

Jimmy Carr, Palace Theatre review - rape gags and risible claims

Jimmy Carr, Palace Theatre review - rape gags and risible claims

The jokes are relentless, but so is the misogyny

Jimmy Carr describes his humour as edgy

What to make of Jimmy Carr? He’s a fantastic gag writer and experienced stand-up who has made a hugely successful career on television. And yet... as Terribly Funny makes clear, you have to share what he calls his dark and edgy humour - or, as he has it: “Cunts are a key demographic for me” - to find it mirth-making.

His gags tend to be one-liners of the set-up, payoff variety, with a few set-up, misdirect, reveal to vary the pace. But when the vast majority are about how women nag, or how unattractive they are beyond a certain age, or are there just for men’s sexual pleasure, or about ghastly mothers-in-law and predatory paedophiles, he can vary the delivery as much as he likes but the material soon becomes monotonous.

Carr’s crowd work, however, is superb and on the night I saw the show it produced comedy gold. He’s quick-witted and smart, and several steps ahead of anybody in the audience who is daft enough to accept his invitation to heckle. He asked if anyone there was an anti-vaxxer and one woman took the bait. 

He gave it both barrels, to the enthusiastic reception of the audience. But then, remarkably, the comic, who famously once took part in a scheme to considerably lower his tax bill, said his taxes had paid for the Covid vaccine. “You’re welcome,” he said.

Er, just a minute. The vast majority - if not all - of the audience have always paid their taxes, without being, as he described it, “chivvied” into paying. He really does have a cheek.

However skewed his reasoning, it wasn’t the only time Carr was keen to show what a decent bloke he is. Black Lives Matter was mentioned respectfully, but alas later he tarnished his anti-racist credentials by retelling the dodgy joke about Gypsies that he told on Radio 4 in 2006. The BBC later apologised for broadcasting it.

And the fact that a member of the audience felt comfortable enough to spout a negative stereotype about Gypsies during his Q&A spoke volumes. He may have dismissed her ramblings, but his response - that he can make jokes about Gypsies because someone in his family is Romany - was risible.

Carr is keen to point out that his act is just that; “my mother” and “my mother-in-law” are both mentioned but the former is a long time dead and the latter doesn’t exist. An onstage persona is a basic part of a comic’s kit but these inventions serve to underline just how out of date much of his material now sounds - he has been doing this shtick since he started in comedy 20 years ago.

He has some smart things to say about Covid, the royal family and various politicians, but as much of the two-and-a-half hours is filled with rape “jokes”, or references to the abuse of women and children, the misogyny just feels relentless - and that’s a shame because Carr is clearly a very talented comic. Just not, on this evidence, a very nice one.

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