“It was a pretty sweet time to be a stand-up comic,” Jimmy tells loaded. “Back then there was less of an industry, stand-up wasn’t a means to an end. No one was doing it to get on TV; it was just for the pure fun of it. But there I go, sounding like an old man.”
Jimmy decided to try and break the world of comedy following a brief stint at a “good but boring job” with a marketing agency – “kind of the same thing as stand-up, telling lies to strangers.” Back then, his material revolved solely around a barrage of controversial one-liners and offensive putdowns, and, well, not much has changed. In fact, it seems as though the now 41-year-old is pretty stuck in his ways.
“I like one-liners,” he says. “I like doing three jokes a minute.
I think it’s because as an audience member I have a kind of Attention Deficit Disorder. It means if you don’t like a joke, you can relax, there’ll be another one along in a second. The only jokes that have ever made me feel bad are the ones that haven’t worked. Sometimes I’ll be certain a joke is funny, 100 per cent sure it’s going to work… and then the audience doesn’t laugh. There’s a theory that the audience is a genius, they decide what ends up in the show and what doesn’t.”
While it was stand-up that brought Jimmy to the fore, he soon became just as known for his TV stints, gaining more air-time in the past 10 years than those meerkats and the Go Compare fatty combined. First there were the ‘100s’ series for Channel 4 – you remember: 100 Greatest Pop Videos, 100 Greatest Paving Slabs, 100 Greatest People Called Steve, 100 Gingers We Love To Hate, 100 People Who Look Most Like Jimmy Carr. No, really. Wiki says so. But before long, Jimmy found his groove hosting The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year shows and their various spin-offs, as well as fronting what is now considered his signature show, 8 Out Of 10 Cats. “For the last 10 years I’ve considered stand-up my job,” says Jimmy, “everything else is gravy. TV is a lot of fun now and I’m really enjoying it while it lasts, but at some point I’ll be yesterday’s news. Stand-up is forever.”
With 8 Out Of 10 Cats now in its 16th series, loaded makes the point that the show’s staple trio – with Sean Lock and Jon Richardson alongside Jimmy – must be getting pretty sick of one another, mentioning to Jimmy that Sean has already mockingly likened it to [see page 46] “if your mum had kids with different dads, and you have to put up with them.”
“I think that’s pretty fair,” says Jimmy. “Working that closely for that many years it’s become more like family. You get to choose your friends; you don’t get to choose your family – unless you’re Madonna. I’m very happy Jon and Sean are putting up with me.”
So do they all get to hang out much? “For about 45 minutes a week.” Ouch – we’re off to the burns unit.
Between his ridiculously packed TV schedule and relentless touring, Jimmy seems to be constantly at the office, which must be pretty taxing [we weren’t allowed to ask about the pros and cons of Jersey-based avoidance schemes]. He is often regarded as one of the hardest-working people in the biz, but it’s a statement he doesn’t exactly stand by.
“I don’t work very hard but I do work very frequently,” he says. “I actually feel like I’m slightly taking the piss calling it ‘work’ at all. I’m just having a laugh and somehow that’s a job.
At the moment I’m working on the new tour Funny Business. It doesn’t start until next April, but I’m currently spending any ‘time off’ writing gags for that. It’s a lovely way to spend an hour, trying to make yourself laugh.”
As regular as touring for any comedian comes the Christmas DVD, and this year Jimmy’s no different with Laughing And Joking, so we ask the all-important question: why the hell should we buy his?
“Well, the great thing about stand-up is people don’t have to think twice about it,” says Jimmy. “They either laugh or they don’t. If you think I’m funny you’re right, if you think I’m not funny you’re right. At this point in my career people know what I do. If they buy my DVD it’s because I make them laugh. This is the eighth DVD. The titles are a kind of weird sentence. Live, Stand Up, Comedian, In Concert, Telling Jokes, Making People Laugh, Being Funny and now Laughing And Joking. It’s a pretty accurate description of what I’ve been up to the last 10 years.”