My Life In Travel: Jimmy Carr, comedian and television presenter
'Staying on Necker Island I really felt like James Bond'
Saturday 12 November 2011
First holiday memory?
Kilkee on the west coast of Ireland. It's a lovely little resort with a nice bay. There's a tiny arcade and a beach with natural seawater holes. You can play pitch and putt and go swimming – it was a really safe place and a nice kids' holiday.
We went for a month every summer because my parents were Irish immigrants, so they would go back to the homeland to see family, which meant I always had lots of cousins and friends around.
I went to Richard Branson's private resort, Necker Island, a couple of years ago, before it was damaged by fire this year. It was unbelievable – I felt like I'd won a competition to be there.
You rock up in a speedboat; I really felt like James Bond. Everything about it was delightful and surprising. We did what people normally do on holiday – read books, sat on the beach and listened to our iPods – but the food was magnificent and the setting couldn't have been more incredible. I think it'll take more than a tropical storm to knock Branson down. I'm sure he'll rebuild it pretty fast.
Where has seduced you?
Las Vegas was a real seduction. It feels like I went there as a joke and it absolutely fooled me. I'm going again in the new year to see Elton John's show, "The Million-Dollar Piano". It's America's playground.
Greatest travel luxury?
I like the familiarity of certain hotels. If I check into any Malmaison or Hotel du Vin when I'm touring in the UK, they know what I like as a snack in the evening. I spend more time there than I do at home. It's like having a local pub on the road, where you know some of the people – it's friendly.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Unless you absolutely have to check in a bag, don't. Only take hand luggage. Wear a suit that won't crease, take a pair of socks, some pants, a toothbrush and apart from that, you'll be OK. They'll have shampoo in the hotel.
Ideal travelling companion?
Attenborough would be pretty good. He could point out the out the flora and fauna and teach you something. Bear Grylls would be a nightmare – he'd be eating frogs and making you sleep rough. I'd love to be part of Kanye West's entourage for the day – you'd be hanging out on boats and drinking Cristal. Obama would be amazing, too. You'd get to go on Air Force One for a start.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
Culture vulture. I've spent a lot of time being a tourist in London. I don't mean eating at the Angus Steak House, don't go nuts. But go to the British Museum – it's like the swag bag of the British Empire, filled with all the cool stuff we had nicked.
Better to travel or to arrive?
I suppose if you were going to somewhere like Bognor Regis to stay in a one-star B&B before it was condemned by the council, the trip might be more enjoyable than the holiday. But how rubbish a holiday are you having for the travel to be better than the arrival? You have to be going somewhere pretty shocking.
Early in my career, I played at a club called the Frog and Bucket in Manchester. I was being paid £50 for my performance, which some would say was too much. They put us up in a B&B next door, above quite a rough pub, and it transpired about halfway through the night from the nocturnal noises next door, that it was also some form of whorehouse. I spent the night listening to terrifying noises through paper-thin walls.
Sandy Lane in Barbados absolutely delivers. Everyone seems to know your name from day one, but they also leave you alone. It's a very nice set-up and the food is fantastic.
Best meal abroad?
There's a restaurant chain owned by the porn star Jenna Jameson called Pink Taco, which is a fine Mexican establishment. She's got one in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and clearly she's not afraid of a pun. Also, last Christmas we had a great festive dinner at Soho Beach House in Miami, which involved a lot of deep-fried courgettes that really worked.
It's very cathartic to read other comedians' biographies. I read Stephen Fry's this year. I know him pretty well, we've worked together a lot on QI, but at the end of reading this beautifully put-together biography, I felt like I knew my friend a little better. It's a lovely thing.
I don't really feel like I've done Europe in any meaningful way. I'd really like to go to Poland because I meet so many Polish guys and girls at my shows in London and I feel like I know a lot about them, without really knowing their culture. I'd also like to tour Australia.
Los Angeles. I only really go there for work, but just mooching around during the day you always bump into all the British people who live near you in London that you never get to see. The showbusiness element of it is just so glamorous and fun.
I fancy a city break in Venice in the cold. I'll buy a nice winter coat, so I can wander round and eat beautiful pasta every day.
Jimmy Carr's new DVD, Being Funny, is out on 21 November
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