Jimmy Carr will never apologise for a joke
Monday 18 July 2022
Jimmy Carr has just dropped a bombshell.
We’ve been talking about how his comedy might not be to everyone’s tastes when I tell him at least my mum thinks some of his stuff is funny.
“This might not be appropriate for an interview,” the British comedian says after a short pause, “but I might be your real dad.”
“Good,” I say, “can you give me a loan?”
On Saturday, Carr is driving home after a UK gig while chatting to me about being cancelled. Cancelled socially, that is, as his shows are just as popular as ever before. Call-out culture’s ever-present threat is one facing many modern comedians but Carr has good news: it’s really not that bad.
“I’ve been cancelled a few times and I’m now a cancellation therapist in my spare time. When anyone gets cancelled I get ahold of their number, give them a call and try and talk them through it.”
All joking aside, the 49-year-old has made a wildly successful career by pushing the boundaries of both good taste and good humour. The most recent controversy stemmed from a Holocaust joke about the Gypsy community and led to widespread condemnation and calls for his Netflix special to be dumped. Back then Carr defended the joke as educational and now says he’s happy to report there’s life after cancellation, we just have to put it all in context.
“The last time I got cancelled what really happened? I told a joke and someone didn’t like it. That’s it. I can't change my show just to please people who aren't at my show. That doesn't make any sense.”
Carr doesn’t believe anything is off limits in comedy. He’s made jokes about disabilities, women, paedophiles and HIV and regardless of the fallout, he’s never apologised for any of them.
“Context is important and the idea that a comedy show is a safe space where you can really push the boundaries because you know where they are. I’ve always said political correctness at a comedy show is like health and safety at a rodeo.”
Jokes are like magnets, he says, they attract some people and repel others.
“Some people are absolutely horrified by my jokes – they just don't get them; they’re just not funny. But here’s the terrible truth: if you think I'm funny you're right and if you think I'm not funny you’re right.”
As for what offends him? “Nothing really, I don’t like being bored.”
Carr definitely isn’t bored these days. He spent lockdown writing a book and is now grateful to be back on the road and performing live after two years of pandemic-induced preventions.
“I never thought I’d be so excited to be in a petrol station at 2am but there you go.”
He’s also excited to be heading to New Zealand in January 2023 where he’ll perform 12 shows taking in the usual cities as well as towns not usually on the tour map of international acts.
Performing in places like Invercargill keeps his carbon footprint low, he insists, because he’s travelling to audiences rather than the other way around. It’s also a good way to see the country: “There’s no better place to mince around than New Zealand.”
The last time he was here in 2018 was pre-fatherhood – real fatherhood that is – and although he says he’s redefining dad jokes on this upcoming tour, having a child hasn’t softened him.
“Here’s what nobody tells you about having kids – it’s the Olympics of bullshit but the people you’re bullshitting are your kids. I spend my life saying, ‘we don’t eat junk food or watch TV in this house, we like reading and long walks and eating broccoli’. We don’t, but we maintain the illusion for them.”
With our time nearly up I thank Carr for the chat and remind him of the loan. He tells me to give my mum his regards and also that he’s proud of me.
“I’m happy you got through college. Well played kid.”