The premise of the show is that young Alan was a bit of a let-down to his football-mad dad. This allows him to go off on all sorts of childhood tangents: hating sport at school ("The egg-and-spoon race? Why make stuff up for me to be bad at?"), the pong of lost-property clothing ("They're not lost; they're the clothes that Africa sent back") and the hierarchy of the school bus ("The further back you were, the more sexually active you were. I was up the front with the driver").
It's joyous stuff that most of us can relate to without it sounding clichéd, and it is delivered effortlessly by a comedian who owns the space he is working in so much, he could put up a flag.
I particularly like Carr's exaggerations of his own situation, comparing them to world events. For example, in this show he likens his experience of being picked for a school football team to "ethnic cleansing". Last year, his killer line was about how the war in Iraq affected his TV career: "I can't help thinking that if Basra had fallen earlier, I'd be a big star by now."
I could repeat more gags from this year without totally spoiling it, since Carr has a line for everything, but the constancy and consistency of his observations should be as much of a surprise as possible. What I can say is, watch out for the ludicrous gag about how his grandad committed suicide. You might die laughing yourself.
Carr's material is not just restricted to tales of the schoolyard, and as he goes on, the childhood premise fades away, but not to the detriment of the show. His withering, smouldering disdain is dished out towards anyone from make-up salesgirls in department stores ("the orange girls") to the BNP and ID cards. The latter joke is partly a visual gag and a good example of Carr's physical asides, sudden movements that are punchlines in themselves.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the cultural version of inter-railing; with performers like cities, after time they can merge into one amorphous mass (or indeed mess). Reading back my notes on Alan Carr's show the following morning, I was still laughing as hard as I was on the night; clearly Carr is the city you can remember and want to go back to.
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