Jimmy Carr Curated

English comedian, writer and television presen...

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This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Jimmy Carr have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Jimmy Carr's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming comedians. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • Why do you like making people laugh?

    My favorite quote is a Victor Borge quote: "laughter is the shortest distance between two people". It really feels like there's a connection, and it's kind of ironic given the type of comedy that I do, which is pretty edgy. But there's something incredible about the connection you get with a thousand people in a room laughing. I recently read about how you're eight times more likely to laugh if you're with other people. So if you come out and see my show as opposed to watching a Netflix special, you're much more likely to laugh out loud. Although you can watch something on TV and find it funny, you tend not to laugh out loud watching it. It's when you go out to a social activity, it's a way that we bond with a group, it's remote tickling, remote grooming. It's one of the most fundamental things in life. Laughter predates language by about a million years. It's a different part of our physiology we use to laugh than we do to speak. It's older than language, we've always done this. It strikes me that it's an incredibly human and lovely way to connect. It's a privilege to do this job.

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  • How was your experience at your first open mic?

    Yeah, it was in a little place in Islington. I'd seen an awful lot of comedy, I've seen enough comedy that I knew it was going to be ok. When you start going to comedy as a fan, you're going to see famous people that have been on TV., right? That's what you do first. You're going to see these big stars, and you think "I'm going to see this big star and it's going to be amazing", and it is. Big stars are funny, they know exactly what they're doing and why they're doing it and they're on point. Then you go to comedy clubs and you watch people see 20 minutes, and the next level is you go and see other open spots, other new comics before you start doing it. Then you start seeing people doing 10 minutes and they're kind of just ok. So then you feel better about doing your first five minutes and it's just ok. But I got a couple of very big laughs and I felt like very early on I didn't choose my style, my style chose me, the idea of it's all wordplay and construction with me, it's not going to be real stories from life.

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  • What are your experiences with getting bombed by the audience?

    Not really... I've been doing warm-up shows for the new tour. It's kind of interesting. The show I'm bringing to Portugal is the "Best of" tour. All of these jokes work, they're my favorite jokes from the last 18 years, and it's really fun to do. But then you do new stuff again, you're psyched with a new idea for a joke, "I've got this and it's gonna kill", you say it to an audience and you get nothing, it's pretty humbling. You go "ok...". You're only as good as your material. With my performance style, there's nothing performance-wise in my show, it's all about material. I feel it's quite a humbling thing, and Lenny Bruce said it best. He said, "the audience is a genius". The audience decides what is and what isn't acceptable and what is and what isn't funny. All you can do is present them with a thousand jokes and then hopefully you get three hundred back that the audience goes "yeah, that's good enough".

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  • If you were starting now, do you think political correctness wouldn't be a problem, with the kind of material you do?

    I think it maybe would be different now. Stylistically my sense of humor is quite dark, and I don't think that is in favor at the moment. At some stages dark comedy is all the rage, and at some stages people want things to be a little bit safer, and at the moment I think people want things to be a little safer, but that's not my sense of humor. I don't find very safe stuff terribly funny, I prefer to tell slightly edgier jokes. But I'm not shouting them through someone's letterbox, I'm telling them live on stage to a paying audience that has the same sense of humor as me, so I feel very comfortable with that. The live stand-up is just pure... that's my sense of humor, that's what I find funny, and if you don't find it funny, you're entitled to your opinion, but this is my show, not your show.

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  • What's your opinion on Comedy getting more and more under the radar of political correctness?

    I don't think that's true. It's been maybe overreported, because there's a couple of universities that have very space spaces and don't want to have comedians joke about anything because they don't feel that's right for them, and that's their business. But I think comedy and comedy venues and comedy clubs are the ultimate in safe spaces. You're basically saying "this is a safe space because we've all agreed that we're coming here just to laugh, we've all agreed that this is an arena of our lives that's just fun. We're just trying to have fun here, no one's trying to make a serious point, we're just trying to have fun". So I think people feel pretty safe in a comedy club.

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  • You've written a book on comedy, "The Naked Jape". What's your favorite humor theory?

    My favorite is benign violation. Its the idea that no joke is offensive. You take something that is a violation in the world, whether it's violence or tragedy and make a joke of it and make it benign by making a joke of it. If you imagine two Venn diagrams, in one there's violations and one has benign things. You can't really tell jokes about the very benign, there's no edge to it, it's not funny, and equally something that could just be offensive for the sake of it, there's nothing there either. It's finding the right mix.

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  • You've said what you look for in comedy is approval. Does this put stand-up in the realm of mental illnesses?

    Yeah, I think there's a strong argument to say that all stand-up comics have got something missing. Regular people look at stand-ups look at stand-ups and say "why would you put yourself through that?. It's such a difficult job to do". Most people don't want to speak publicly and the idea of having to make a thousand people laugh is nerve-wracking and unpleasant, and stand-up comics love the idea of that. There's an awful lot of texts written about comics being manic-depressive, I don't think that's the case. It's a need to somehow getting the approval of strangers, it's pretty needy that you need it everyday, which I do.

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  • Do you remember the first time ever you got paid to make people laugh?

    I do, yeah. I think my first ever paid gig was in Plymouth, in England. I drove for about six hours to the gig. I got payed maybe 80 euros. I started early 2000. Maybe 2001, something like that, was my first payed gig. I worked so much that first year. I adored it. I suddenly found this thing, and kind of went "I'll just do it all the time". I suppose I was graduating, because there's three different stages of comedy: making your friends laugh, making strangers laugh, and making strangers laugh for money. Those are the levels, and I kind of graduated. But I suppose success in comedy wasn't the first time I got payed, success was the first time I did the Comedy Store in London, because getting a weekend there, it felt like "Oh, I can live off this, I'm making enough money now that I can live my life off telling jokes", and that to me felt like another level of freedom.

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  • Do you think comedy tours like yours could pave the way to establish an international stand-up circuit, similar to what happens with bands, for example?

    I don't think its so much tours like mine, I think people are getting better at English globally. You've seen this little shift happen between how it used to be and what it is now. Things like Youtube and Netflix are spreading English and basically media is spreading English at a rate unprecedented. So people don't wait around for their show to be dubbed, they want to watch it straight away. Whether it's a comedy show or Game of Thrones or whatever, no one's bothering to dub that stuff anymore, so they watch in the original English and they pick up the language. I'm touring around the world in the Far East, I'm doing South Korea, from Iceland to the northern countries to South Africa to all over Europe, and increasingly in places like Spain and Portugal where traditionally there wouldn't be British comedy. You really know you've learned a language if you can get a joke in that language, You know your English is top flight if you can get a joke. You have a lot of people in eastern Europe that use stand-up comedy as a fun way to learn English.

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  • You spend a big part of every year touring. Don't you sometimes think "I'll take a year off"?

    A year? No! I think comedy... I like to think of it as a job. Comedy is a job. All the other stuff is great, film and writing and stuff is all fun, but comedy is a job, and I think your get better at it the more you do it. It's like when you talk to an airline pilot and they tell you... an airline pilot never tells you how long he's been an airline pilot, he tells you the amount of hours he's had in the sky. I think of comedy the same way. I think you don't get good unless you do the right amount of hours, unless you put the work in, so I like to work all the time, to just get better at it. Also, my problem - and this is a great problem I have in life - work is more fun than fun. My job is so fun that when I have a night off I think "this isn't as good as when I'm working".

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  • How do you prepare for hosting a game show panel?

    Well, you certainly have to own it. Sometimes you have to be the boring one who moves it forward and gets an answer, and we’re always very conscious on Cats that there’s a narrative arc to the show. That it works as a game. That there’s a play-along-at-home factor. Some quizzes that just use surreal: I find them difficult to watch for the full half-hour. You sort of feel like it works on a number of levels. You can be funny about it, but the answer should be amusing as well. We’re blessed with an interesting idea. What have people been talking about this week? Everyone can have a punt.

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  • Are there any towns or rooms that you particularly warm to?

    I like most of the towns that we play. I think there is a thing that the smaller the town you go to, the more people appreciate the fact that you’ve come. If you do bother going to Skegness or Bridlington or Hull and putting on a show, people really appreciate the fact that they’ve not had to drive to Manchester to come and see you. And they’re having a better time because it’s in their local town and it’s fun. I’ve got a carbon footprint like a Wookie! I don’t really have favorite towns, but it’s weird. We really like some crews that we’ve worked with. We like most of the people we’ve worked with. But for me and Gareth, my tour manager, go out and in certain places, you turn up and you know the town’s going to be fabulous and the lights are going to be great because the crew at the theatre are just excellent.

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  • After 200 shows a year you must be an expert on gauging how your audience is going. Does the tone or feel of the audience ever surprise you anymore?

    I’m often surprised. I did a gig last week on a Monday night [this interview took place a couple of weeks ago] and thought that it was going to be slightly more subdued, a calmer sort of thing. And it was like a riot. I always say that it isn’t where you play in the country, it’s what night that makes the difference. Fridays are the same anywhere in Britain, everyone’s had too much to drink, has left early from work and is a bit boisterous. Sundays are great fun, people getting the last bit of fun out of the weekend. Monday and Tuesday nights tend to be people that booked it way in advance and are going ‘what are we doing out on a Monday? What the fuck is going on?’ But then sometimes they just really go with it.

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  • What kind of things have audiences being throwing at you?

    Yeah. People come in with the weird and the wonderful. Often you can appear to be much quicker than you actually are, because you get asked the same thing most nights. But you often get thrown a curveball. And it’s different every night. I don’t know how much you stand up to repeated viewings, but it’s always a fun place to be in the room. It feels like it’s live entertainment that couldn’t happen anywhere else. If you do jokes about the local community and what’s going on in that town it feels kind of special.

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  • Do you feel that you are keen to move on to the new material?

    No, I feel like you write it, and then you’re excited about new jokes, There’s nothing more exciting than a new joke that works. The joke doesn’t even exist when it’s just a thought, it only exists when you tell it someone. And that excites me. When you get to know it, when you get to know the flow of the jokes, then it’s like a comfortable pair of shoes, and you never want to put on new shoes because these are so comfortable and you’re so used to them. I think as the tour goes on, I get more comfortable with the material, and then I’m more able to go off script because you feel comfortable about coming back in.

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  • Do you ever find that your tours roll into each other just a little bit, or are you at the point where you’re so disciplined about it you can make a complete split?

    It’s a total split, much as it’s tempting to say that I’ll throw in a couple of lines from last year’s show. Sometimes stuff will come up with an audience member, and someone will ask me a specific question, and then you can use a gag from two years ago. But even then, people know.

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  • Is it a thirst to keep doing the number of stand-up gigs that you do?

    Yeah. The difficult thing is writing the show. Once you’ve got the show written you might as well take it everywhere. Because once you put it on DVD, you can never perform it again. So I take it everywhere, and then I like to do a new show every year.

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  • After a decade and a half in comedy, what do you think is the biggest lesson that you've learned?

    To relax. Everyone does everything better when they are relaxed. Maybe try and have fun, that's the big lesson. It takes a long time to get to that. I was really tense on stage, uptight and nervous in front of all these people. I think the lesson I've learned as well is that you don't have a monopoly on the sense of humor because you're on stage. If people shout something out and it's funny, go with it.

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  • There's that thing about humor being used as a defense mechanism. Have you ever felt that that was in your consciousness?

    I don't think that's a thing people do it consciously. It sounds like a negative thing but the one time in life that you need comedy is when bad things happen. Life can be very tough and that's when you need a sense of humour. That's when it really comes in handy — to be able to lighten the mood and to lift people and yourself. Comedy a lot of the time is about perspective. It's about stepping back from what's going on and finding a lighter side. If that's a defense or coping mechanism with life, then I think that's very important, I think people instinctively go to comedy or to go friends when they need to laugh, when they are reading the paper and it's more bad news about Trump and they go "Look, we need to do something".

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  • When did you ever realize that you had this wicked sense of humor?

    I guess it's almost like a personality disorder, like a need to please other people, to make other people laugh. So getting up on stage, the first time I did it, I thought, "This feels right, this might be the way to go".

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  • when did you get to the comedy stage? Was it after you did that marketing job?

    I was in my mid-'20s. I had a proper, serious job in a big oil company [editor's note: Shell] and I was doing fine. Having a good job and a good career, and a good education is a thing that holds you back from going "No, I want to join the service, be a performer and travel the world.' Luckily, I was young enough that I had nothing to lose.

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  • How do you think your teenage years have shaped your comedy today?

    I think men are kind of late in developing. I was quite earnest and serious, I was very obsessed with education when I was younger. I don't think your teenage years make your life. I think you come to a conclusion at some stage that you get to choose who you want to be in life.

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  • Do you ever read the comments left on your YouTube clips?

    I don't. The thing about feedback for comedy is we already get great feedback — the laughter you watch on those clips. That's the feedback loop. When I talk on stage, it seems like it's a monologue but it's not. It's a conversation.

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  • Are there any comics you feel threatened by, professionally speaking?

    No. Comics tend to get on with other comics, much more so than actors. I imagine if I was a 40-year-old actor and I was looking at Daniel Craig, I would be livid. Because he is Bond and I am not. Or if you look at Benedict Cumberbatch, you go, “He is Sherlock Holmes and I’m… not.” If you’re an actor, that’s annoying. But a comedian, with sense of humour, it’s "They’re really funny but… hey, I’m funny too. Yay!" It’s different.

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  • Where do you see yourself in the comedy canon?

    I don’t know. I feel quite lucky just to be still working. I think the aim of the game, the absolute high watermark of success is to still be doing it. I want to do a Joan Rivers. Do you know Anthony Jeselnik? A great comic. He tweeted the day Joan Rivers died, he said: “Joan Rivers said ‘I’d rather die than apologise for a joke.’ I’m glad she made it.” And I think she would have thoroughly approved of an irreverent comment on the day of her death.

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  • Is there a difference in the reaction from the UK and American audiences?

    A little bit, just in terms of the things that you can and you can’t joke about. I was over at the Comedy Center in New York and I had a bit about Bruce Jenner. You know me, it’s going to be word play, not really about anything, just a bit of word play. Every night I’d do the joke and I’d mention Bruce Jenner and someone would shout “Caitlyn”. And people don’t really heckle in the United States but someone would say it like a correction: “No no, it’s Caitlyn”. But we do have our sacred cows too. I don’t think you could ever in this country do a Hillsborough joke. It’s really interesting actually, the more general the subject matter, the safer you are. But I steer clear of a lot of stuff if I can’t find an angle. There is a slight risk-reward with doing edgy comedy. If you’re going to do a joke about something that’s potentially going to upset somebody, it better be worth it. It better be funny enough.

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  • You were once pinned ‘the Dark Prince of comedy’, but you no longer make headlines for offensive jokes. Do you feel like the perception of you has changed?

    I just don’t think it’s news anymore. I think the thing is, with show business, it’s about trajectory, not about where you are. I’m probably bigger now than I’ve ever been, but it’s less of a story. I can sell lots of tickets, I can play shows, but it’s kind of under the radar. But it’s when you’re on the up and you’ll be famous in a year, everyone comes to see you. I think it’s because it’s almost irritating: “Who’s this new guy? He’s come from nowhere!” I was really conscious of this one year, when I was on Channel 4 like four nights a week and people were like “what?”. Now if I do that, people just go “oh yeah, course he is.”

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  • Do you ever feel different from your early days?

    I’m still grateful. I think if I’d gone straight from university into show business, I would have assumed this is how the world is, and I think there’s still something from then that I’m anchored to. I really buy into that arrested development thing of when you become famous or get into show business. I always think I’m 26 because that’s how old I was when my normal working week finished. But even today, I slept in till 9.30 just thinking “this is good, innit?” I mean, fair enough I had a late night, but this feels like, "this is alright…what have I got to do today? Well if I write some jokes that’ll be a bonus." Great!

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  • Do you ever rediscover old things?

    Yeah, I did. You do go back and go “Oh! That!”. It’s a really nice thing when you look at something you did years ago and make yourself laugh. But of course – it’s exactly your sense of humor. I did a thing in a show about five years ago where the jokes got steadily more offensive and it was a real set-piece because it went, "Where do draw the line?". If it’s funny enough, you can get away with anything, because laughter is a reflex and conscience is not. Your conscience kicks in later and goes, “Hang on, I shouldn’t have laughed at that” – but you’re already laughing. It’s a real kind of cognitive dissonance: you have two thoughts at the same time. "That’s wrong, but that’s funny." It’s a lovely feeling.

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  • How do you come up with anything new?

    A great night for me is 70% scripted material and 30% stuff that only ever happens that night. Just feeding off who’s in, finding the characters, messing around. I like a bit of heckling. That’s the variable. As a comedian, it’s unlike anyone else in show-business: you don’t have a monopoly on the talent. If you go and see Adele sing, there could be 15,000 people in that room and no-one has a voice as good as her. There’s no one else in the room that has that voice and that creativity. It’s extraordinary. It’s like watching a unicorn. Whereas if you come and see me live, there could be 3,000 people in the room and we’ve all got the same sense of humour and I happen to be the one telling the jokes but everyone there kind of gets it. I think a lot of people who come see me live are ‘the funny one’.

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  • Are you worried people know your material too well?

    People tell me my own jokes. It’s one of my favourite things: at the end of the show there’s always a signing and people kind of go “I’ve got one you’re going to love” and you go ‘“Yes - that’s from my second DVD!” It’s a lovely thing when they live on in someone else’s head. It’s quite sweet. But I’m not frightened by it because I’ve sort of been doing best-of shows on the quiet for years – they’re called corporates.

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  • Do you think it’s possible to successfully repeat your old jokes?

    I’m quite an old fashioned comedian in a strange way, because not many people do one liners anymore – not many people do jokes. They might do a long story that’s got a lots of laughs along the way and then a big punch line at the end and if you’ve heard that before, you know where it goes and the surprise is done. But when you’re telling three, four gags a minute, I think you can go back. People forget them.

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  • What advice would you give to a 16-year-old yourself?

    Go to the Fringe Festival and go and see shows. I still tell people that now. It is an incredible festival of comedy that is a train ride away. But people don’t go. I didn’t even know it existed until I was in my 20s. I had a vague idea there was an arts festival there. I thought it was ballet and opera and so not for me. This incredible thing is happening, especially now with the Free Fringe it really feels like a scene. ou are on your own on stage and you decide what you can say and what you can’t say. The audience laugh or they don’t laugh. There is an immediate feedback. Sixteen-year-old me would like the absoluteness of that. The other side of my life now is the really nice sense of community. I work in television and it means you get to work in a team. It’s like you’re part of a new class in school and they make you head boy on the first day – and everyone is there to try and make you look good. It’s brilliant.

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  • Do you think people misinterpret ambition in comedy?

    My first Edinburgh show, where I got nominated for the Perrier Award, was called Bare-Faced Ambition. I got successful about two years before anyone thought I got successful. Playing the Comedy Store [in London] twice on a Saturday night, the early and the late, and playing the Balham Banana Cabaret in between felt like I had absolutely made it. I was making a living telling jokes to people. Everything else was gravy. It was just about having a full diary and having fun.

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  • How was your experience in Marketing & Advertising jobs?

    I really enjoyed working after university in advertising and marketing. I’d tell myself at 16 it is nice to have a relatable and normal life. If you go straight into showbusiness you are never really grateful for how fucking easy it is. And it is really easy. When you start doing comedy it is the first time you are self-employed so you think you are never going to do any more gigs than this – so you do all of them. I remember for the first four years in comedy I was doing upwards of 300 gigs a year. If someone asked me if I wanted to go to Plymouth for £60 I’d say yes. I was paying my dues.

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  • How do you compare bullies in school and hecklers at your shows?

    That taught me to handle hecklers. Having a good sense of humour was how you’d be in the group. Everyone was just very, very good at taking the piss. That really has been a lifelong love of mine – taking the piss and knowing where to draw the line. If someone heckles me now I just think, “OK, here we go. I’ve been doing this for years!”

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  • Do you see yourself writing books as you get older, as comedians often do?

    Oh, I don’t know. I wrote that pretty early on in my career (2006), after I’d been approached to write an autobiography. I love autobiographies, but I like them to be written by 80-year-old men or a person with a really unique take on things. I didn’t have one of those in me. What I had was a belief in jokes. Which are far more important to me than the average person. I tried to write something that would be academic-ish but also funny. Stand-up is the best job in the world. Why would I want to give that up to write a novel or be a politician? I want to be a journeyman comic. A lot of my heroes, like George Carlin or Joan Rivers, they died with their boots on, so-to-speak. They just kept going and going and going. I love that.

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  • You have been involved in many media controversies for your material. Have you ever apologized for a gag?

    No, I don’t think I have. I often use the “I’m sorry if you’re offended” response. But I think I am apologizing on behalf of the newspapers to the public. My view is that people who know my style of comedy came out for a laugh, had a good time and no one was offended. Then the Daily Mail, or whoever, takes one of my gags and plasters it across the front page. They have exposed something to people who don’t share the same sense of humor as me or my audience. I don’t want to upset anyone, I have no axe to grind. I see myself as an equal opportunity offender.

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  • Are you able to control yourself or do you have a sort-of uncontrollable urge to say things?

    Joke Tourette’s, it is. It’s weird being a comedian because we can get away with so much. We are expected to say something funny in awkward situations. We have a license to say the unsayable, to give voice to what others might be thinking. Still, I am asked often if I mean what I say. NO. GOD, NO.

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  • Your act centers around a lot of wordplays, do you have to work hard at this?

    I work so hard at it. But I work hard at being a comedian, that’s not a proper job, is it? The kind of comedy I do isn’t about storytelling or telling people about my perspective on life. Some comedians are carving a statue out of marble, making a work of art — I am making something simpler out of Lego bricks.

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  • How did you begin the raunchy comedy we know you for?

    I look back and see that I used to have faith in God, now I don’t. It’s almost embarrassing. I don’t recognise who I was. I believed in a magical person in the sky, who made everything in the universe. It’s not like I was an uneducated man. I was actually educated beyond my intellect, but I was a product of my background. I accepted certain things without giving them proper thought. As soon as I did, in my mid-twenties, I realized what I had believed was really not the case.

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  • Who are your favorite comedians?

    Peter Cook or Spike Milligan. They are the Lennon and McCartney of comedy. Nobody in the industry has done anything they haven’t. Neither of them was stand-ups; they were just funny guys doing their thing.

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  • Do you draw on the experiences for your shows?

    I get material from small things like conversations or watching the news. I guess I see the world through rose-tinted glasses that are always looking for jokes. It’s like a puzzle. You have a phrase or an idea that might be funny, then you work back to try and figure out why it’s a gag.

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  • Was it always your dream to be a comedian?

    Not at all. I was a marketing executive at an oil company until 26 and just got bored so I decided to do something more interesting. At that point in my life I’d stopped believing in God and subsequently felt freer. If you think there’s a life beyond this one, you tend to compromise more and not take risks. After reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, I realized all we have is right here, so it was time to start living.

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  • Do you prefer doing stand-up to television work?

    I wouldn’t say that. TV shows are a joy. For a program like QI, I turn up as a guest and have a laugh with friends. It’s a dream job. There’s more responsibility when presenting, but you’ve got 20 people behind the scenes working to make you look good. At the same time, I get to mess around with my favorite comedians. It feels like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. With stand-up, whilst there’s more freedom, you feel extra pressure because you have to make it great by yourself.

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  • Is it hard to know where to draw the line?

    The lovely thing is that I feel I don’t have to draw the line because the audience does that for me. Anyone can get a reaction by saying something controversial; the trick is to make people laugh before they gasp. It’s a kind of cognitive dissonance that I love. You don’t get to choose when you laugh; it’s a reflex that chooses you. When you see an old lady falling over in the street you laugh straight away, but that doesn’t make you a bad person. You call for help a second later. I did a program for the BBC about laughter and it really is a fascinating form of communication that predates language by more than a million years. It’s a social noise that people don’t really make when they’re on their own, even if they’ve seen something funny on YouTube. Apes used to try and make each other laugh by tickling, but for humans there’s a limit to the number of people you can do that to, so we try to elicit the same response through humor. You could say jokes are a remote form of tickling. That’s effectively what I’m doing when I’m on stage. It’s fun.

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  • For those who’ve never seen you live, how would you describe your stand-up?

    It can be pretty brutal. My sense of humor is quite dark. There are certain jokes you’ll tell friends that you think maybe can’t be said in public, but I never want to have that barrier with the audience. I try to view them as friends, knowing that if I say something crude they’ll get that it’s just a joke.

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