One-liner comedians can be hard to endure, their incessant delivery, annoying. Jimmy Carr is perhaps the best of the bunch, quick-witted, intelligent and sharp. But much of his material is of questionable taste and far too often he crosses the line. Seeing him at the Halls was an example of that; weak material, poor judgement, a “bridge too far".
Born to Irish parents nearly 40 years ago, Carr turned professional back in early 2000. His star quickly rose almost straight to the top, a regular presenter on TV. "8 out of 10 Cats” made his name and "Have I Got News for You" quickly followed his style almost perfect for the screen. No less impressive is his presence on the stage, he is confident and at ease with himself. He made clear his intentions to the audience with the opening gag of the night; "People say I'm the hardest working comedian around but that's like being the best-looking guy in the burns unit".
His homework was impressive with hundreds of gags, well articulated and at breathtaking speed. But lacking sequence or structure we were soon bored with listening, looking forward to the break at half time. ”When does the bar open” one brave wag shouted out. But the gags just kept coming, occasionally funny, but most of them barely raising a smile. His attempt at a sitcom - with the help of the audience – died a lingering death, its content simply vulgar and coarse.
Carr is unusual and unlike most comedians makes no effort at all to be liked. His person is distant, his delivery deadpan, he simply pushes as far as he can; "Let's ramp it up", he declared to us all before beginning a joke about Aids. No subject is sacred, no taboo unbroken from paedophiles to wheelchairs to sex. While the occasional gag was quite clever - "Do Muslim fundamentalist sex dolls simply blow themselves up" – these were drowned in a sea of bad taste. But while he can be funny and quick - "Greggs is a sort of patisserie for poor people"' he chided the audience from Blackheath - too often he shocks, his strange sexual stories, simply gross.
Car's defence of his act is that no-one is spared and that everyone is treated the same (badly). While the mother with teenagers who walked out half way through really ought not to have attended at all - Carr makes no bones about the show's content - it seems a waste of his talent to simply shock for shock's sake, like a naughty boy saying "penis" at school.
Unstructured and unfunny.
Richard has over 25 years in the City with spells at NatWest in Paris, Credit Suisse and most recently, Moody's. Currently at ANZ London, he lives in Blackheath and is married with 3 children and inevitably, a keen supporter of Charlton Athletic. Visit his blog here.