Jimmy Carr is a stand-up comedian who I’ve been a fan of for several years, and at the time of writing he’s the only comic I’ve got around to seeing live twice, albeit with far too long a gap between the two shows. The first time was at The Princess Theatre, Torquay in July 2012, where I actually got to meet him, and then much more recently I saw him at the New Theatre, Oxford in November 2022. I’ll make sure it’s not another 10 years before I see him again!
His humour is often very rude of course, including subjects that are taboo or controversial, so he’s not to everyone’s taste, and that’s perfectly fine and understandable. Nobody has to watch him, and if you’re not a fan of his then don’t read this post.
But I personally feel comfortable with his style of humour. He’s said himself that he’s an equal opportunities offender, in that anybody and everybody is a target for his humour, and thus nobody is singled out. And, like all the other people who choose to attend his gigs or buy his DVDs, I know exactly what I’m getting into. I know that he’s just telling jokes and not expressing his actual opinions, and his jokes don’t reflect my personal views either. I also know that he’s a nice guy from meeting him in person, and I know that he’s clever and insightful about jokes and comedy from both his stage act and his interviews.
So, following the pattern I’ve adopted with other comics whose shows I’ve attended in recent months, I thought I would rewatch and review all of his stand-up shows that he’s released on DVD (a few of which are also on his Youtube channel alongside lots of clips), and more recent gigs that were published on Netflix. Each show includes lots of great jokes and banter with the audience, and sometimes other elements for a little bit of variety. And his DVDs contain a lot of extra features, he’s been quite generous with those too, even going to the effort of narrating the menus and adding comedy subtitles on the earlier releases.
So here’s my little run through of his DVDs and online shows, none of which are sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy!
- Stand Up
- In Concert
- Telling Jokes
- Making People Laugh
- Being Funny
- Laughing & Joking
- Netflix Specials
The fun thing about the menus on this DVD is that instead of music you get Jimmy talking to you in a light-hearted way, to explain the options or make other random comments. If you let the Main Menu keep playing in particular, he has additional comments to make when it refreshes after the first minute. And there are some nice little bits of animation relating to the show on each of the menus too.
The show itself was filmed at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London (his first 5 DVDs were all recorded there), and combines material from his first 2 Edinburgh Fringe shows (Bare-Faced Ambition and Charm Offensive). The majority of his 75-minute performance is of course his general stand-up material, and the best bit of teasing of an audience member comes when he discovers a guy from Norfolk is there with his sister. But there are also a few sections where he does things a bit differently:
- He sits down on a sofa to chat to the audience a little bit, as well as talking about Distraction, Your Face Or Mine? and charity shows.
- He sits at a desk and uses a screen at the back of the stage to show some very clever small ads he put in papers and magazines and on street flyers.
- Later, again at the desk, he shares some amusing correspondence that he sent to various people, including responses he received from Amnesty International and Stephen Hawking.
- He gets an Irish lady on stage to sit on the couch and interview him, using the questions he’s prepared funny answers for as well as ad-libbing, and she keeps laughing helplessly!
- He shows off some comedy t-shirts, which have some text or a picture on the front and a punchline on the back.
So there’s a nice variety of material, both within his general stand-up routines and those other segments as well. At the end, the national anthem plays over the credits, and it’s interesting to see that fellow comedian Frankie Boyle is named as an associate producer. At the end of the credits, the show is dedicated to Jimmy’s mother Nora Carr, who had died a few years earlier.
In terms of extras, there are several on the DVD, with a commentary and around 35 minutes of other bits and bobs:
- Audio Commentary – This is an interesting and amusing chat between Jimmy and his friend Iain Morris, who directed the original Edinburgh shows on which this gig is based. They give nice insights into many of the jokes and sections of the show, while Jimmy also talks about how he got into stand-up in the first place, his early gigs, how he comes up with ideas for jokes, how many he tries to pack into each show, the TV programmes he’s worked on so far and his favourite comedians. They joke at the end that people probably haven’t listened to it all the way through, suggesting a secret phrase that you can email Jimmy with, but they do actually sustain their chatter for the 75 minutes very well, in particular because Iain has good questions for Jimmy that lead to quite extensive discussions.
- Audience Interviews – 9 minutes of amusing material captured on other nights, as Jimmy chats with 3 other audience members on the sofa about what they do before they interview him.
- Royal Variety Performance – Jimmy’s 10-minute routine from this annual charity show. Nearly all of the jokes are the same as in the main feature, cleaned up a bit where appropriate of course.
- Backstage – A nice 4-minute feature where Jimmy prepares for the gig, has a laugh with the makeup lady and has a photo session.
- Karaoke Comedy – This is more of a pointless 4-minute clip. It just repeats the encore from the show, with subtitles showing the words coloured in as they’re spoken, like on a karaoke machine.
- T-Shirts – 2 minutes of Jimmy reading and commenting on the t-shirts from the show, along with a few additional ones.
- Small Ads – 3 minutes of Jimmy reading and commenting on the small ads from the show.
- Posters – 2 minutes of posters with commentary by Jimmy, starting with a couple by children’s illustrator Becky Haigh to promote his shows Bare Faced Ambition and Charm Offensive, and then a few others Jimmy created for fun.
After a copyright notice that disappears instantly – and I’m not sure if that’s deliberate or an error – we then discover Jimmy has again put considerable effort into all of the menus on this DVD. We see him walking around and doing gestures on the screen, and he talks you through the options that you can choose from. The Main Menu can be left looping a few times to hear different comments, while the Scene Selection menu has multiple pages that each have unique narration and visual actions by Jimmy. He’s even played around with the subtitles, adding in comedy alternatives for Cockney, Yorkshire and Scottish. And there are a few hidden Easter eggs too, which I’ll mention below as they’re related to one of the extras.
The main show, again from the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, lasts for 80 minutes. It starts with some humorous messages on the back screen to get the audience laughing and interacting a little bit before Jimmy emerges. Then during his set his jokes include references to his girlfriend, sex, obese girls, gypsies, religion, meeting Prince Charles at the Royal Variety Performance, Princess Diana, charity gigs & his charity foundation ideas, amusing road signs, death & funerals, medical jobs, disabilities, and an awards gig he did for Mojo magazine, among many other things.
There’s a lot of great audience interaction as well, with a particular highlight very early in the show when Jimmy discovers a young couple who are ‘friends with benefits’, to put it in polite terms. The girl tries to avoid telling Jimmy this embarrassing piece of information, until another lady who’s there with them grasses her up, which only makes it all the more amusing! But there are lots of other people who Jimmy talks to as well, including a guy who’s stolen money from fruit machines at Alton Towers, an American man who’s over on vacation, two 18-year-old lads, a guy who works in a fetish shop, a couple of girls who drink flaming Sambucas, a 70-year-old man, a couple who got married 2 days earlier, a gynaecology nurse with stories of unusual items they’ve retrieved, and more. So it adds a lot of good variety to the show, for Jimmy himself as well as the audience.
There’s also a generous 2 hours worth of extras:
- Comedy Idol – This is an entertaining 51-minute documentary, where aspiring comedians vie for the chance to perform during Jimmy’s show at the Bloomsbury Theatre. A huge number of people turn up for the auditions, where Jimmy is joined by fellow comedian Karen Taylor and his producer friend Iain Morris to make up the judging panel. They see a wide variety of acts, some of whom do leave them crying with laughter – either because they’re pretty good, or because they’re so weird! But the judges are very respectful to all of them, this isn’t a Simon Cowell style contest. Ten people are then chosen for the final, which sees each of them doing a short set at the Comedy Store in London, and most of them are reasonably good in their own way. The winner, as voted for by the audience, is Colin Owens, and the programme ends with his 5-minute set at Bloomsbury. He isn’t the best of the bunch for me (I would have voted for Gerry Kyei personally), but Colin’s a nice guy and does well, so fair play to him.
- Easter Eggs – The uncut audition routines for 3 of the wannabe comics (none of whom made it to the final) are shown in full in hidden titles on the DVD, lasting for 7 minutes in total. They can be found on the Main Menu, the Scene Selection menu and the Bonus Material menu, by hitting Left on your DVD controller when the big words next to the menu options start flashing. They’re reasonably entertaining to look at for the sake of curiosity.
- Comedy Central Presents – Here we see Jimmy performing a 20-minute set over in America, and there are similar extras on some of his later DVDs too. Pretty much all of the jokes are from his UK shows, with occasional British words exchanged for American references, and in this clip his swearing is bleeped out too. He also brings out his comedy t-shirts at the end, the same ones as on his first DVD. So it’s not an essential watch by any means, but there’s no harm in having it, as the jokes are still funny.
- Top Gear Interview – In this enjoyable 10-minute extract from the BBC’s motoring show, Jimmy is interviewed by Jeremy Clarkson, including mentions of his job at Shell, oil, his Rover 75 car and driving at night, before Jimmy zips around the test track in a Suzuki Liana in record time (though Ellen MacArthur beat him later in the series by just 0.2 seconds).
- XFM Highlights – 30 minutes of clips from Jimmy’s radio show with his producer friend Iain Morris, where they chat about random things and read texts from listeners. Topics include talking posh, Dungeons & Dragons, committing the perfect murder, setting up a business, advice for dealing with a broken heart, Harry Potter, Jamelia, Elton John, injuries & illnesses, goths, being dumped and tortoises. It’s not hilarious by any means, but it’s fairly amusing.
This DVD opens with a brief piracy sketch set in a market, taken from one of the extras, before we enter the menu system, which is again narrated by Jimmy. If you leave most of the menus running he’ll say something different when they loop around. For example, if you leave the Main Menu running, Jimmy tells you that the backing music is a track called Finding Out True Love Is Blind by an American band called Louis XIV. Their self-titled track is used on other menus, and both songs are taken from their album The Best Little Secrets Are Kept. It’s nice that Jimmy’s given an unknown band a bit of exposure and credit in this way. And as a fan of Queen, it’s interesting to note that they also did a cover of Flash in 2007, that was used for a TV series on the Sci-Fi channel (which I’ve never seen and it didn’t get very good reviews).
Meanwhile, if you let the Scene Selection menu play on after Jimmy’s first comments, he has to pause to sneeze during his next set of remarks, but elects to keep the take instead of re-recording it. And on the Subtitles menu, he doesn’t say anything when it first loads, but if you click on any of the options he makes an amusing comment about it. You can choose to have normal captions in The Queen’s English, or amusing alternatives in Brummie (Birmingham), American English, or English with different accents (German, Spanish & French). Someone would have had to spend a lot of time translating everything into those different variations, and they’re amusing to glance at by flicking through the subtitle tracks while you watch the show. I wouldn’t want to watch the whole gig with them switched on though.
The main show, at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, lasts just over 90 minutes. And as well as his general stand-up material, there are again parts of the show where Jimmy sits down to do something a bit different, by writing some greetings cards, giving several ideas for things to write on application forms, and becoming an agony aunt who responds to letters from magazines and people in the audience.
There are also a lot of other great audience interactions, as he explains a snakebite joke to a lady who doesn’t get it, and asks for suggestions of what to do if attacked by a bear, as well as talking to various other people including a lady who’s there with her parents, an American guy, a couple of ladies with tattoos, a cheerleading coach, and a guy who tries to heckle him with remarks about his mother.
There’s a variety of bonus features again as well:
- Thumbing In A Softie – This is Jimmy’s attempt at doing a sketch show, lasting for 20 minutes. It’s nothing special, so I’m not surprised he hasn’t gone any further down that avenue, but it’s alright to watch out of curiosity. It includes the piracy sketch from the opening of the DVD, along with a literacy gremlin, a gay chat line, the consequences of teenage sex, awful ringtones, bad sex with a tradesman, the Nazis, mobile phone theft, an awkward flasher, a smoke alarm advert, teaching a child to cross the road, spam emails about drugs, a trailer for a new crime drama, and a bad end to a stag do. Among the people helping Jimmy out are Greg Davies doing some voiceovers, and Colin Owens from the Comedy Idol show on the previous DVD.
- Second Life – A 16-minute feature about how Jimmy ended up in the Guinness Book Of Records as the first stand-up comedian to perform a gig in the virtual world of Second Life. We see how his body was scanned to create a 3D avatar, which doesn’t look much like him given the limitations of the graphics, and then we see footage from the gig, where he’s in a room with 50 real people while others watch his avatar online. It’s hampered by time delays, graphical anomalies and random comments by the virtual users, but Jimmy sees the humour in it and deals with it well.
- Soccer Six – A 6-minute feature where Jimmy puts together a team of random people for a laugh to play in the Celebrity World Cup Soccer Six, including Rik Waller, an 82-year-old man called Don, Britain’s tallest man Chris Greener (7ft 7in), Ray Griffiths (who has dwarfism and is 4ft 1in), Lauren Harries (formerly James Harries, who appeared on Wogan and other shows), a robot guy called Zeos, striker Micky Quinn, and singer Justin Hawkins from The Darkness. They inevitably do rather badly, and in one game Lauren gets stretchered off after being hit in the face by the ball, so overall they finish bottom of their group. But they still had fun doing it.
- Rubber Face Jimmy – An odd 3-minute sketch that was used at the start of some of Jimmy’s tour shows, with Leigh Francis from Bo’ Selecta! doing an impression of Jimmy while wearing a mask with fat cheeks.
- Radio 1 Chris Moyles Interview – This 3-minute clip isn’t an interview at all, so I’ve no idea why they’ve called it that. It’s simply a video showing a brief set of jokes that Jimmy delivered at Radio 1’s Christmas Party, hosted by Chris Moyles, with a bit of light jazz in the background by a group called The Funny Feeling. Of course, if you’ve seen Jimmy’s shows before, then they’re all jokes you’ve heard already.
- Radio 2 Steve Wright Interview – In this 9-minute audio extra, Jimmy is interviewed by Steve Wright about his book The Naked Jape, which takes a close look at the world of jokes, with over 400 examples of his favourites. During the discussion he talks about jokes for kids, why he became a comedian, observational humour, a few of his favourite comedians, the delivery of jokes, political correctness, and his TV work. So it’s a nice chat to listen to.
Jimmy doesn’t comment on the menus here, or on any future releases. It’s a pity, as it was a nice unique feature of his early DVDs, but you can only do it so often before it feels repetitive. So instead, in this instance, you get animated representations of him bantering with the audience, using clips taken from the Carrtoons extra feature mentioned below. And then, when the animation on each menu restarts, the spoken audio is replaced by an extract from Werewolves Of London by Warren Zevon, which is a great song. There are again a variety of amusing subtitle options as well, in addition to the standard English captions, where you can choose from Australian, Glaswegian, Polish, Scouse & Welsh.
The main show, yet again from the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, lasts for just under 90 minutes. As well as his traditional stand-up material, he also comes up with new punchlines for classic children’s jokes, shares some questionable reviews he’s received, reads a funny poem he’s written about strip clubs and war, does a routine about Gillian McKeith from You Are What You Eat, and does a selection of amusing questions, ideas and jokes while accompanied by a trio of jazz musicians.
There’s plenty of good banter with the audience along the way too. He finds out where various people are from, talks to a 14-year-old boy who’s there with his mother, poses a moral dilemma to another guy about his parents who are also present, teases a police community support officer, takes suggestions for what the “Para” stands for in Paralympics, asks people for their ultimate sexual fantasies, takes silly suggestions for a bit of improvisation, and does an amusing Q&A session.
Finally, for the encore, he tells one of his most taboo jokes, and talks about some particularly harsh heckling. The credits then dedicate the show to his girlfriend Karoline Copping in an amusing way (a joke that he then repeats in person during his next show).
There are just a couple of extras on the DVD this time, but a lot of effort has gone into the visual design of the main one:
- Carrtoons – Introduced by a puppet of Jimmy, this is a 37-minute compilation of audio clips from various shows on his tour, where he’s interacting with members of the audience, illustrated with an enjoyable variety of animations and puppetry. Topics and distractions along the way include a guy who can’t say the word arrogant, the sport of rugby, people on benefits, Jimmy’s hair, his virginity, sexual fantasies, a guy who wants Jimmy to be racist, a guy who gets a text message during the show, man boobs, looking gay, Northern Ireland, women who want to know if he’ll marry them, the Co-op, the Titanic, house repossessions, being a legend, dyslexia, Tutankhamen, animal charities, and a heckler who Jimmy has a field day with when he discovers the guy’s parents are with him.
- Carrtoon Strips – A brief 1½ minutes of jokes from Jimmy’s previous shows told in the form of a comic strip, with Werewolves Of London playing. It’s nothing worth shouting about, but the drawings are nice.
Jimmy’s DVD menus have a much simpler style from this release onwards, featuring very little animation while we hear extracts from the songs used to start and end the show. So in this instance you hear Can’t Stop by Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Main Menu and Stronger by Kanye West on all the sub-menus. Subtitles are only provided in English now as well, he doesn’t provide any more comedy alternatives, which again is fair enough as you can only take that joke so far before you run out of possibilities.
The main show, lasting around 90 minutes, is the last one recorded at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London, as subsequent releases were filmed elsewhere. This time he adds variety by doing a section of jokes with illustrative pictures on the back screen, tells his shortest jokes that are just 2 and 3 words long, sits down to give humorous dating, sex and relationship advice, and tests the audience in the encore with his most offensive jokes to see if they have a limit.
Plus of course there’s plenty of back-and-forth fun with the audience, as along the way he talks to a heckling student, a very well-dressed lady out with her daughter, a man who’s had a growth removed from his face, and a man with a voice that Jimmy finds particularly amusing, among others. He also gives the answers to some questions he’s asked a lot, before opening the floor to more questions from the room that he gives funny responses to.
The extras on the DVD consist of:
- Bonus Stand Up Material – 10 minutes of deleted scenes from the show, including material about the credit crunch, politicians, parents of babies and the worst heckle of all time. There’s also a bit more banter with the audience, particularly a man who needs to go to the loo and ends up losing his seat when Jimmy moves everyone along, as well as a guy with a lot of hair who’s in a band. And Jimmy is further distracted by his makeup lady coming out to touch up his face, a cameraman who’s visible on the stage, and a moment where he fluffs the words to one of his jokes. So it’s a fun mixture of outtakes.
- Twitter Diary – 15 minutes of Jimmy reading out short jokes and amusing observations that he posted on his Twitter account, with the words animated in various ways. They’re illustrated with any pictures that were part of the tweets, or photos of Jimmy in different costumes and poses. A few of the jokes are also available as hidden options on the Main Menu, by selecting each of the faces of Jimmy when they appear. It’s a shame they didn’t use different jokes for those Easter eggs really, as it’s not worth clicking on them otherwise.
- Comedy Central Special – Another 20-minute set from America. Again it’s full of jokes we’ve heard before in his UK shows, so it’s nothing special. But at least this time the swearing isn’t bleeped out.
Making People Laugh
Again the menus are very simple on this DVD, playing extracts from I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor by Arctic Monkeys and Tears Of A Clown by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, both of which are briefly used in the show, though the main feature itself actually starts with I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas. It’s thought that Apl.de.ap from The Black Eyed Peas may have the rare sight condition aniridia like myself, where you don’t have the coloured iris around the pupil and thus it looks like your eye is black, which could explain the group’s name. So it’s nice to think aniridia is represented on one of Jimmy’s DVDs, even if it’s in a very obscure way.
The gig takes place at the Armadillo in Glasgow, so named because of the shape of the building. It lasts for almost 2 hours and, rarely for a stand-up comedy release, includes a pause for the interval, something he doesn’t do on any of his other DVDs. Each half of the show can be selected independently on the Main Menu, or you can just watch the whole thing in one go, plus of course there’s a Scene Selection menu as well. Each half begins with a few jokes on the back screen to warm the audience up before Jimmy emerges.
As well as the usual stand-up material, Jimmy also sits down on a couple of occasions to take us through jokes that are accompanied by amusing and sometimes disturbing illustrations on the back screen. In the first half he takes on a tour of the ideas floating around in his mind, while in the second half he talks about things he could include in his autobiography. And as always he gets involved with the audience as well, dealing effectively with a few hecklers, answering people’s silly questions, asking for the mundane things people have said during sex, and talking to others including girls holding masks of his face, an unemployed guy with a fear of spiders, and a man who he catches asleep. He even sings a bit of Sweet Caroline at one point when it comes up in the conversation.
The extras on the disc are only short this time, lasting half an hour between them, but they’re still worth a look:
- Famous People – In this 7-minute deleted scene, Jimmy points out Chris Wilson in the audience, who drew all the illustrations that appear on screen during the show. Then he uses some of those illustrations to help him do jokes about Fern Britton, Keira Knightley, Madonna, Jordan, Amy Winehouse, Susan Boyle, the Queen & Michael Jackson.
- Meeting & Greeting – A nice 8-minute extra of Jimmy saying hello to audience members after the show and signing their merchandise. He shows genuine gratitude to people for coming along, but also has a laugh with them as well. Among the fans he meets are a lady who wants a hug, another who wants to lick his face, a drunk woman, and the girl from Dundee he spoke to during the show. He also has to explain what felching is to a bloke’s mother, and another guy asks Jimmy to write a marriage proposal with his signature to give to his girlfriend. I can understand everyone’s delight in meeting him, as I got to do so myself when I attended his show in 2012.
- Just For Laughs – 16 minutes of sets he did at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal in Canada, from 2003, 2006 & 2007. As with the American extras on the previous DVDs, these are full of jokes that have been heard before in his UK shows, so they’re amusing but nothing exciting. The shows are followed by a 2-minute promotional film, where Jimmy explains what the Just For Laughs festival is, and it does look like a lot of fun.
The simple menus on this disc, which show a view of the stage, play extracts from Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana and One Day Like This by Elbow. Jimmy knows how to pick great tracks for his shows, he’s got pretty good taste.
This time the show takes place at the Birmingham Symphony Hall and lasts 1 hour 40 minutes. And as usual he adds plenty of variety to his act, this time by:
- Teaching the audience how to do regional accents with the aid of certain phrases, and getting them to copy him. He points out that his own name sounds like Jamaica when said in that country’s accent, and he makes a joke about a guy from Jersey being a tax-dodger, words which he would have to eat a year later.
- Presenting some ideas and jokes with illustrations by Chris Wilson on the back screen, during segments in the first and second halves of the show.
- Getting a young funeral director on stage for an interview, ultimately pranking him using messages on the back screen that the rest of the audience can see. And the guy’s a good sport about it, clearly happy to meet Jimmy in the first place.
- Talking to an elderly couple who have been together 43 years, and doing an impression for 2 young lesbians.
- Inviting the audience to abuse him in a heckle amnesty, so he can have fun with his comebacks.
- Testing the audience’s tolerance for offensive jokes in the encore.
The only extra feature here is a continuation from the previous DVD, with 3 more sets from the Just For Laughs Festival in Canada (2009, 2010 & The Nasty Gala), lasting 24 minutes in total. As usual they’re full of jokes we’ve heard before, and the Nasty Gala allows him to showcase some of his ruder, edgier material. The shows are also followed by the same 2-minute promo film as the previous DVD. So it’s the least interesting set of bonus material on any of his DVDs. But the main show from Birmingham is great anyway, which is the important thing.
Laughing & Joking
This is Jimmy’s final DVD, before he switched to streaming. The simple but nice-looking menus on this disc, with a little animated Jimmy doing a few actions, play the intros from Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People and When You Were Young by The Killers. Meanwhile the credits of the main feature have Exitlude by The Killers playing over them.
This 90-minute show was recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. As well as the usual stand-up stuff, it also includes more ideas and jokes accompanied by some brilliant illustrations, and he tells a few stories about meeting royalty, being told off by a journalist for a joke he made on his last tour, visiting a palliative care home for teenagers, and a friend who committed an awful faux pas with some American comedians they’d invited to their club.
As for the audience, he gets plenty of hilarious and disturbing responses when asking people for the worst gifts they’ve ever received, the most important things in a relationship, experiences of walking in on others while they were having sex, the excuses men have received by women for not wanting to make love (with Jimmy’s suggestions for replies), and the bizarre things ladies have been asked to do by men in the bedroom that they’ve said no to. Plus there’s a lady who claims to have seen a ghost, a newly married lesbian couple, a lady who taught at his school, a woman who was flashed by a guy in a club, a guy who was wrongly arrested for flashing, a lady who’s had a vajazzle, and a woman who gets Jimmy’s attention when she comes back after using the loo.
The extras on this DVD are very short, lasting just over quarter of an hour in total, but are more interesting than the extras on the previous release:
- Topical Jokes – 7 minutes of deleted material from the show. Jimmy starts by talking about his recent tax scandal, the fallout of which he handled brilliantly by making suitable amends and finding the humour in the situation. He also talks about Margaret Thatcher dying, the London Olympics from the previous year, Jimmy Saville and Oscar Pistorius, plus there are a few illustrations as he talks about internet grocery shopping and Catholic priests.
- Bar Signing – 4 minutes of Jimmy meeting audience members after the show to sign their merchandise. Many people have the same programme from his Gagging Order tour that I have. Some of the more notable encounters here include a French couple, a girl who had tattoos done by her father-in-law, a couple who broke up but came to the show together, and a lesbian couple.
- Amnesty International Concert – A 5-minute set from the Secret Policeman’s Ball in New York, again full of jokes that are familiar to his UK audience. But it was for an important cause, so it’s great that he took part in it.
Jimmy has released 3 specials on Netflix to date. They’re each an hour long, so quite a bit shorter than his DVD shows, but they’re still a lot of fun overall.
- Funny Business – Just like his last DVD, this was filmed at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Along the way there are jokes about Liz Hurley, cinema, flooding. political correctness, Rachel Riley, air travel, being heckled for his laugh while watching his friend Nick Helm, the TV show Embarrassing Bodies, and weird things people do sexually, among many other things. The audience have various opportunities to get involved too of course, as Jimmy talks to an accountant, a Christian man, an engineering student visiting from China and some nurses, as well as reading out hilarious text messages that he invited them to send in (which he also did on the show I attended recently) and holding a heckle amnesty for people to abuse him. He then finishes the show with some of his rougher jokes as is tradition, including one in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo after the attacks they received for religious cartoons they published.
- The Best Of Ultimate Gold: Greatest Hits – Filmed at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, and using The Man by The Killers as its theme tune, this is full of previously heard material as the name implies, with just one or two jokes I don’t recall hearing elsewhere (about Donald Trump and pandas in particular). So it’ll be of most value to people who haven’t seen his earlier shows. But it’s still reasonably enjoyable even if you are familiar with the material, as he has chosen a lot of his best jokes. And there’s some good audience interaction as always, as he asks them about the most important things in a relationship, the weirdest things women have been asked to do sexually, and the excuses men have been given not to have sex – all topics raised in previous shows, but he always gets good responses to them. He also talks to an 18-year-old guy who’s there with his dad, which leads to Jimmy making occasional jokes about the guy’s mum throughout the show.
- His Dark Material – Audio description is available for this show, and there are a couple of clips on Youtube. It was filmed at the Cliffs Pavilion in Westcliff-on-Sea, and at the start he warns people that he will be making jokes about terrible things, but they’re not the terrible things themselves. He doesn’t need to make such a disclaimer really, but it’s useful for those people who may be watching him on Netflix for the first time. During his very funny set he does routines about Covid, his mother, apps and websites and giving a sperm sample. And in terms of audience engagement he talks to a 17-year-old amusement park worker, a ginger guy, a 19-year-old lesbian and some nurses, as well as asking ladies for their favourite terms for their most intimate area, and holding another heckle amnesty for people to abuse him. Then at the end he does some of his most taboo material, as is traditional, including the now notorious joke about gypsies, which he explains immediately afterwards, highlighting the important yet often unknown fact that it brings light to. He also talks about the value of dark humour, and doing a comedy in a hospice for the Canadian charity Hope & Cope as part of the Just For Laughs festival.
It says a lot about Jimmy’s style and the unfathomably huge number of jokes he’s able to write that I was able to watch all of those shows in fairly quick succession without it feeling boring or repetitive. He’s really good with wordplay and has a great rapport with his audiences, so it always works really well. And leaving aside his American sets and the Greatest Hits show on Netflix, it’s very rare that he repeats jokes from one show to the next, and even if you do think he’s about to repeat something, chances are he’s written a different punchline or taken it in a different direction. He will occasionally re-use his responses to people’s heckles of course, as there are certain comebacks that work particularly well depending on what’s been shouted at him, but that’s fine.
So I really enjoyed watching all of those shows, it was nice to have a binge on his stuff. And I hope you enjoyed reading about it all too. I’ll be very much looking forward to seeing him again on a future tour, hopefully not after a 10-year gap this time!