For many, Jimmy Carr is a comedic, TV personality on a few BBC talkshows. So, when he comes to town to perform one of his classic stand up gigs, you’d be forgiven for expecting a light hearted, above the belt, comedy show for everyone to enjoy. If, however, you seen any one of the many shows he’s performed, you’ll know that this is the furthest from the truth as it gets. What you get instead, is a two-hour cringe-worthy routine you need to prepare yourself for mentally before dare setting foot in the theatre. Jimmy Carr performed at CTICC, Cape Town, and Emperors Palace, Johannesburg this past weekend as part of his world Funny Business Tour.
The award-winning comedian comes across as a well-spoken, well-dressed, upper-class Englishman, who wouldn’t be amiss amongst a group of politicians or noble businessmen, if the two groups were to be believed as such. And yet, we all know him for his ability to push the boundaries of society’s norms, where incest, prostitution and paedophilia are just a few of the talking points neatly written into his dialogue. And yet, there we were, all waiting to hear from him.
While his pre-planned comedy are funny and worthwhile on its own, his shows are a lot more than just that. Jimmy has a habit of switching things up by addressing the crowds directly, welcoming heckles, or touching on the local hot topics with which the country is embroiled in. And, as you would’ve guessed, there were a few Zuma jokes thrown in, not to mention the country’s financial state, although, comparing it to the failures of other countries, not unique to our own. This part of the routine also included a few lingual performances mimicking our Afrikaans dialect, and even engaging the crowd in a bit of it. Pushing the boundaries is useless without crowd engagement, and even before delving deep enough into his routine, he gauged the crowd’s level of participation and acceptance of the humour on offer.
When addressing the crowd, he was able to pick apart everything from their respective careers, accents, and even make-up and significant others. The best part of the show were his quips, when opening the floor to the audience, seeking out some good heckles. While this does add a unique slant to a regular stand and deliver routine, it is worth knowing that by doing this he only seeks to prove his worth as a comedian, being able to respond on the fly. It’s safe to say that there were no real winners in terms of best heckles, each listless above the next. And yet, the responses were always on point, slicing deep into each individual who dared try. The best (or worse) was saved for last. Poor Clara never knew what hit her. After what may have been deemed as a good enough retort: “When does the comedy start?”, it was clear that the gloves had come off, throwing a few quick-fire witticisms over a span of 10 minutes or more. While the rest of the show continued, reference back to Clara seemed to have become the theme of the night.
The crowd engagement slowed proceedings a little over the fast-paced introduction, but played its part in the overall experience. As is the theme in other Funny Business appearances, Carr shared a few previous experiences that had landed him in trouble over the years, such as amputee soldiers (whom he had engaged and met with directly beforehand). This part of the show is what Carr claims is his encore, although he claims he cannot risk leaving in the hope of the crowd wanting more, so he just adds it to the show in any event. While there were a good few cringe moments along the journey, it was well worth going out to see.
And it’s soon coming to Netflix as well: