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Review: Jimmy Carr, Gagging Order, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday
THE problem with inviting audience participation in a comedy show is no-one, including the comic, quite knows how it will go.
Jimmy Carr – now a comedian by royal appointment don’t you know (something we’ll come to later) - is an old hand at it, throwing the show open for comments, thoughts or anecdotes and then using his rapier wit to turn whatever comes back into comedy gold, where necessary at the contributor’s expense.
At the Grand Opera House on Tuesday night, it at times worked a treat, not least when he asked for ghost stories. “I once saw a hand at the end of my bed,” said one chap. “That was your foot, you idiot.”
And when he asked if anyone had received useless presents and a guy revealed his auntie had bought him a pedometer and rollerblades – even though he couldn’t walk. (It would be no surprise if that contribution worked its way into the show long-term.) At other times it didn’t quite hit the nail, particularly when Carr went one step further with audience participation and invited two randoms onto the stage to partake in a not-so-family sitcom sketch he was apparently considering.
Generally, volunteers are either brave and charming and augment the show, or inebriated and embarrassing and hold it back. It’s fair to say the category ‘Adam’ and ‘Sally’ fell into probably depended on personal perspective, but either way it had Carr toiling to make it work.
Does he need to risk it this much? It’s not as if his own material isn’t strong enough – it’s utterly hilarious.
Carr’s so funny, in fact, that the night before his York performance he had been an invited host at the televised Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.
“Credibility – what use is that?” he pointed out himself, before anyone else could bewail his descension into the Establishment.
Much of his stand-up is probably not fit for royal command, however, with disabilities, religions, paedophilia and sexual relations getting his usual treatment.
There were also a few quips about various celebrities, including himself. Oh, and the Queen, via a quick tale about overhearing Her Majesty asking a homeless person what he did. “Same as you – nothing.”
Some lines - “I once insulted a deaf person. What I want to know is, who told them?” - can probably be repeated here but much of it is, ahem, too close to the bone and can’t.
Carr has always pushed the listeners’ own boundaries on taste and offence, but somehow with charm not malice. Even when he lures them in with a moment of sincerity… only to push them off again with a riotously repugnant one-liner.
Some of it is outrageous when taken out of context, but turning it all on its head, the two-and-a-quarter-hour show ends with an anecdote of political correctness spectacularly backfiring.
• Jimmy Carr's Gagging Order returns to the Grand Opera House, York, on December 7 and 8. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or atgtickets.com/york