James Anthony Patrick "Jimmy" Carr (born 15 September 1972) is an English stand-up comedian, television host and actor, known for his signature laugh, deadpan delivery, dark humour, and use of edgy one-liners. He is also a writer, actor and presenter of radio and television. Carr moved to a career in comedy in 2000 and has become a successful comedian. After becoming established as a stand-up comedian, Carr began to appear in a number of Channel 4 television shows, most notably as the host of the panel show 8 out of 10 Cats and also The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, a comedy panel show that airs in late December to review the past year.
Early life and education
Carr was born in Hounslow, London to Irish parents from Limerick: Patrick James Carr (born 1945), an accountant who became the treasurer for computer company Unisys, and Nora Mary (née Lawlor; 19 September 1943 – 7 September 2001). His parents married in 1970 and separated in 1994, but never divorced.
Carr spent most of his life in Slough, Berkshire, where he attended Farnham Common School and Burnham Grammar School, then completed sixth form at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire where he was classmates with future rugby international Matt Dawson. The family remained in contact with its Irish roots and made frequent trips to Limerick, and Kilkee, County Clare. Carr holds both British and Irish citizenship and is a self-described plastic Paddy.
After earning four 'A' grades at the GCE Advanced Level exams, Carr studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a 2:1 degree in Political Sciences.
In 1997, he went into a marketing job with Shell, which he did not enjoy and lasted less than 18 months.
At age 26, he had what he calls "an early midlife crisis". He publicly made comments critical of organised religion. He stated that at this time, to help him cope with his loss of faith he did a lot of psychotherapy (specifically neuro-linguistic programming), and ended up qualifying as a therapist.
While working at JC Productions with his father, Carr made his first no pilot/short film at Pinewood starring Craig Charles, Roy Dotrice and himself: the mockumentary, The Colour of Funny.
Carr has hosted Channel 4 game shows Distraction and Your Face or Mine?. He presented the 100s series of programmes for Channel 4: 100 Worst Pop Records, 100 Worst Britons, 100 Greatest Cartoon Characters, 100 People Who Look Most Like Jimmy Carr (a spoof) and 100 Scary Moments. He has also presented a series of Commercial Breakdown.
From 2004–06, Carr hosted a United States version of Distraction for Comedy Central. He was also nominated for the 2006 Rose d'Or award for Best Game Show Host. Carr presents the Big Fat Quiz of the Year on Channel 4, having presented the first 9 shows each December (2004–2012). He hosts the quiz show 8 out of 10 Cats. In April 2010, Carr hosted the first British version of a comedy roast show, Channel 4's A Comedy Roast. On 6 May 2010, he was a co-host of Channel 4's Alternative Election Night, along with David Mitchell, Lauren Laverne, and Charlie Brooker. He joined the three presenters again for 10 O'Clock Live, a Channel 4 comedy current affairs show, which started airing on 20 January 2011.
Carr is also a writer, with writing credits including Bo' Selecta! (C4), Meet Ricky Gervais (C4) and material for Lily Savage and Frank Skinner.
Carr was a guest presenter for one edition of Have I Got News for You; later he joined Ian Hislop's team in the edition of the show first shown 23 November 2007, chaired by Ann Widdecombe with whom he "flirted" outrageously. Widdecombe later stated "I don't think I shall return to this program." Carr has appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks twice. He has appeared on at least one episode per season of A League of Their Own and QI. During a guest appearance on the BBC motoring show Top Gear, Carr set a new celebrity test track lap record on the 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car' segment. He was described as "the worst driver we've ever had" and "the luckiest man alive" by Top Gear's test driver the Stig. His re-appearance on Top Gear in May 2006 placed him last in the brand new Reasonably Priced Car, with the slowest time ever (because he spun off on his timed lap).
Carr hosted a highlights edition of the show, and on the Top Gear Live World Tour of 2009–2010 he hosted the section 'Carmageddon' in which the Stig successfully attempted a 'gear change'. In the US, he has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien twice and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno three times. Carr appeared on the Irish news comedy show The Panel. In 2003, Carr was in the music video for the song "Proper Crimbo". Carr appears at the end credits of Ross Noble's Randomist DVD, where he punches Noble on his way back to the dressing room. Noble had joked in his show that Carr performed for only a "weak" 1 hour 20 minutes, as opposed to Noble's 2 and a half-hour show. Carr appeared on the Royal Variety Performance twice (2002, 2008, 2013).
A 15-ft-tall replica of Carr's head was used in an advertising campaign for Walkers Crisps and has subsequently appeared in various publications. In July 2013 ITV News and BBC Cumbria reported that Skiddle was transporting the 15-ft-tall replica of Jimmy Carr's head from Preston to the Wickerman Festival.
Carr wrote and starred in a sketch for the 25th anniversary special of Comic Relief in 2013
Carr also appeared in BBC's Top Gear in episode 1 of the 20th series.
Carr is a regular guest and interviewer on Loose Ends (BBC Radio 4) and The Fred MacAulay Show (BBC Radio Scotland). In January 2005, Carr hosted 'It's Been a Terrible Year' — a comedy review of 2004, on BBC Radio 2. Up until July 2006, he had a Sunday morning radio show on Xfm, with the mercurial comedian Iain Morris. The show had a strong emphasis on toilet humour.
Features, of varying popularity, have included:
Goth Classics — Item lasting about four weeks in which the Sisters of Mercy track "This Corrosion" was played twice.
Now That's What I Call A Jukebox – Long running item invented by Iain Morris where a number of songs are selected from a Now That's What I Call Music album, and are put to a vote. The song with the most votes is played.
The Songs You Should Like and the Songs You Do Like (But You Like The Song You Should Like As Well) — This catchy-titled item consists of playing in sequence one credible but under-rated or overlooked song (The first was 'Touch Sensitive' by the Fall) and one guilty pleasure (Liberty X's 'Just A Little Bit' followed) On 9 July 2006, the item was renamed "A Song to Patronise, A Song To Sanitise". Traditionally, items are carried out with little professionalism, presumably to match the rest of the show content.
In January 2006, Carr made a joke on Radio 4's Loose Ends, the punchline of which implied that Gypsy women smelled. Although the BBC issued an apology, Carr refused to apologise and continues to use the joke. He appeared in two episodes of the radio series of Flight of the Conchords in 2005. On 22 January 2009, he covered Zane Lowe's evening show on BBC Radio 1 between 19:00 and 21:00.
Carr does stand-up tours continuously over the course of the year, taking only five weeks off between them. In 2003 he sold out an entire month's performances of his Edinburgh Festival show Charm Offensive by the second day of the festival, and received 5-star reviews from four major newspapers. In 2004 he performed sold out solo shows at Dublin's Vicar Street, Leicester's Comedy Festival, Glasgow Festival, Kilkenny Cat Laughs and the Galway Festival along with appearances at the Bloomsbury Theatre where he filmed his first live DVD.
Also in 2004 he threatened to sue fellow comedian Jim Davidson for using a joke that Carr considered 'his'. The matter was dropped when it became apparent that the joke in question was an old one used for decades by many different comedians. He toured the country with his show, A Public Display of Affection, starting on 9 April 2005 at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury and ending on 14 January 2006 at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End. He also appeared at the EICC during the Edinburgh Festival in August 2005 with his Off The Telly show. Later on in the year, in late November, he released his second DVD "Jimmy Carr: Stand Up".
In August 2006, he commenced a new tour, Gag Reflex, for which he won the 2006 British Comedy Award for "Best Live Stand up". He released his third DVD, Jimmy Carr: Comedian in November 2007. He also performed at the 2006 Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, as well as making a return visit to the Newbury Comedy Festival. In 2003, he was listed in the Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2007, a poll on the Channel 4 website for 100 Greatest Stand Ups, Jimmy Carr was the 12th. A new national tour commenced in autumn 2007 named Repeat Offender, which began at the Edinburgh Festival that year. In late 2008, Carr began touring his new show, entitled Joke Technician. As with his previous tour, he performed many shows at the Edinburgh Festival, even adding an extra date due to ticket demand.
On 23 April 2009, the dates for Carr's 2009–10 tour, entitled Rapier Wit, were announced. The tour opened on 20 August 2009 with 9 shows at the Edinburgh Festival before touring the country. On Twitter, he released details about his new DVD entitled Jimmy Carr: Telling Jokes, which was released on 2 November 2009.
In July 2009, Carr toured with Las Vegas band the Killers. Killers' frontman Brandon Flowers explained that it was part of his vision for his band's shows to become more of a Las Vegas-style spectacle. Flowers, who grew up in Vegas, said: "We had met Jimmy before, at a Comic Relief gig, then we bumped into him again at a party a couple of weeks later. We were just throwing ideas around and having a comedian as part of the show sounded like a Las Vegas thing to do – it used to be common in the '60s and '70s – Jimmy seemed to like it so we are giving it a go."
Carr's sixth Live DVD, Jimmy Carr: Making People Laugh, was released on 8 November 2010. Carr's 2010–11 tour, entitled Laughter Therapy, was announced on 8 April 2010. The tour started with a run at the Edinburgh Festival before touring the country.
Carr also appeared at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal in July 2011. At which he performed his 2010/11 tour show 'Laughter Therapy'. Carr's latest stand up DVD was released on 18 November 2013 with the title of Jimmy Carr: Laughing and Joking.
He was among the performers at the Diamond Jubilee concert held outside Buckingham Palace on 4 June 2012.
On 21 December 2006, Carr announced plans to become the first major comedian to perform in the virtual reality world of Second Life. This was confirmed on his MySpace webpage on 3 January 2007, and a competition launched to choose a select audience from the list of his MySpace friends. Carr's Second Life show took place on 3 February 2007 at 7:00pm (19:00), at Adam Street Bar and Members' Club in Central London. Fifty MySpace friends made up his live audience, with 100 virtual attendees in Second Life itself.
In March 2007, Laura Jackson (of the Guinness Book of World Records) confirmed that Carr had obtained the world record for being the first comedian to perform a stand-up gig to an audience in cyberspace, following on from his Second Life show.
The Naked Jape
In 2006, Carr published a book entitled The Naked Jape: Uncovering the Hidden World of Jokes on the history and theory of joke-telling, co-written with his friend Lucy Greeves.
In October 2009, Carr received criticism from several Sunday tabloid newspapers for a joke he made about British soldiers who had lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that the UK would have a strong team in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Carr defended his own joke as "totally acceptable" in an interview with The Guardian and later claimed to have written the joke with a triple-amputee soldier in a veteran's hospital.
2012 tax avoidance controversy
In June 2012, Carr's involvement in an alleged K2 tax avoidance scheme came to light after an investigation by The Times newspaper. The scheme is understood to involve UK earners "quitting" their job and signing new employment contracts with offshore shell companies based in the low tax jurisdiction of Jersey. British Prime Minister David Cameron commented on the issue: "People work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of his shows. They buy the tickets. He is taking the money from those tickets and he, as far as I can see, is putting all of that into some very dodgy tax avoiding schemes." Carr has since pulled out of the scheme, apologising for "a terrible error of judgement".
Viewing figures of the episode of his topical show 8 out of 10 Cats, recorded on the day of his apology and broadcast the following day, almost doubled compared with the previous week. Earlier in 2012, Carr lampooned people who avoid paying their taxes during the second series of Channel 4's satirical news programme 10 O'Clock Live. A sketch from the show, in which he poked fun at the 1% tax rate of Barclays Bank and described tax lawyers as being "aggressive" and "amoral", was regarded as having "come back to haunt him".
Carr lives in North London with his girlfriend, Karoline Copping, a commissioning editor for Channel 5, whom he has been with since 2001.
Legal issues with Carr's father
After becoming a widower, Carr's father remarried in 2003. In March 2004, Carr's father was arrested by the Metropolitan Police after Jimmy and Colin Carr accused their father of harassment. Their father was later acquitted of all charges and awarded costs by the Court. His acquittal was followed by a written apology from the CPS. Later, the Metropolitan Police apologised and paid him substantial damages in an out of court settlement for the arrest and prosecution.
LAFTA Awards 2008: Best Stand Up
LAFTA Awards 2007: Funniest Man
British Comedy Awards 2006 – Best Live Stand Up
Rose D'Or Nomination 2006: Best Game Show, 'Distraction'
LAFTA Awards 2005: Funniest Man
Rose D'Or Nomination 2004: Best Presenter, 'Distraction'
Loaded Lafta Award 2004 – Best Stand Up
Royal Television Society Award Winner: Best On-Screen Newcomer 2003
Perrier Award Nominee: 2002
Time Out Award Winner: Best Stand Up 2002
Jimmy Carr at the Internet Movie Database
Jimmy Carr on Chortle, including forthcoming tour dates