Jimmy Carr: Public Display of Affection, International Conference Centre, Edinburgh
Monday 23 August 2004
Jimmy Carr arrived in town like a Rolls-Royce, smug in the knowledge that he had the power to match his spotless appearance.
Jimmy Carr arrived in town like a Rolls-Royce, smug in the knowledge that he had the power to match his spotless appearance. If Jimmy was the Roller, then the EICC was the outsized garage he parked in. In fact, let me push the analogies further to give you an idea of the scale of this "Fringe" venue - it looked like the United Nations, and being in Row X along with the rest of the Albanian delegation was no laughing matter. A far cry from last year, when Carr was able to welcome each audience member individually to his Pleasance venue.
Admittedly, Carr's run in Edinburgh this year is short, but TV appearances such as the Channel 4 game show Distraction have elevated him to what he admits he is; a minor celebrity, but one able to fill the 1,200-seat EICC six times or so.
Like most minor celebs, he could get his own chat show one day, and his set here is prescient of that. Everything about the perfectly turned out Carr screams light entertainment - except, of course, his "post-modern ironic" un-PC jokes.
Despite the scale of the venue and my misgivings about comedy and its natural environs, Carr's conveyor belt of one-liners ("My dad's dying wish was to have his family around him. I can't help thinking he would have been better off with more oxygen") provide the big belly-laughs that have sadly been absent elsewhere on the Fringe this year.
Recognising that there is a "you've paid to see me but you're wondering who I am" element in the crowd, Carr takes a seat at one point to tell us about his Irish background and his aborted career in marketing. As with his tales of celebrity put-downs, there's a danger that this can seem a little self-indulgent. But the delivery here is more explanatory than it is smug: that he saves for the punchlines themselves, irrespective of who they are aimed at.
Not that one or two hecklers don't get the sharp end. Explaining a joke about Jesus being the successful product of a teenage mum, he asks one apparently mystified woman: "Do you know who the protagonist is?" It's a quality moment: there are only a few comedians who could get away with asking that kind of question of their public.
Carr isn't so pleased when others take liberties, and is currently embroiled in legal action against Jim Davidson for allegedly using one his jokes. As Steve Bennett of the comedy website Chorlte says: "The story highlights the gulf between modern comics, who pride themselves on distinctive material, and the older generation for whom swapping the same gags was par for the course."
It also shows that Jimmy has a far wider appeal than many of his generation. Like the Rolls, it might seem crass and flashy at times, but you have to admire the craftsmanship.
To 29 August (0131-226 0000)
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