There were two good reasons for us to book to see Alan Carr’s new stand up show, and one poor one. The good ones were that a) we’ve never seen him live and I do like to see for myself how “big names” perform on stage; and b) that he’s a local lad done good, so I thought that not only might that bring an extra spice to his act, but also one should give him the local respect due. As for the poor one – well that’s the fact that whenever I catch him on TV (not often) I feel a need to run from the room as quickly as possible. I find his TV persona a bit grating – I feel that I want to like him, but to be honest, I just find his TV appearances irritating. So we turned up at the R&D on Friday night for his Yap Yap Yap show with little expectation.
Boy, were we surprised. What a funny man! Two and a half hours jam-packed with clever observations, ridiculing pomposity, railing against injustice, and full of camp nonsense, all embodied in a nicely self-deprecating, likeable and engaging personality. It’s true – as he is a local lad, his local observations were all the more credible and funny. You always know when a comic swans into town and mentions a couple of iffy local areas which he picked up on in the local newspaper half an hour earlier. Mr Carr knows Northampton inside out and can share reminiscences of old characters, shops, pubs, events and so on. He was shocked that we had a Waitrose though. We’re not that Neanderthal anymore.
His presentation style, as you might expect from his TV appearances, is reasonably manic, with a lot of pacing up and down the stage, quite a bit of fidgeting, and occasionally breaking into a bit of dancing or skipping when the material calls for it. But it’s not distracting or false like some comics, rather it all helps knit together his stage persona, enhancing his performance rather than detracting from it. Some comics flit from topic to topic barely touching the subject, whilst others go in depth and explore an idea to its nth degree. Mr Carr is towards the flitting end of the scale, going through a considerable number of ideas during the course of the show, deftly fishing the best humour out of them without going into much depth, then moving on. It keeps the show lively and you certainly never get bored. When he gets animated he also has an unfortunate habit of gobbing on the people in the front row. He does, at least, always apologise, and suggests he should issue the front row with those see-through ponchos that are popular with pensioners.
Because he is known for his TV chat show I feared a lot of the material would involve celebrity-namedropping, which would mean nothing to us as we probably wouldn’t know whom he was talking about. Not so. Any mention of celebrities actually only came from his spinning off the reactions from the audience. Apparently that Philip Schofield is a bit of a lad, and can drink Alan Carr under the table. Who knew? But the vast majority of his material came from well planned, rumbustiously executed routines about the ridiculousness of everyday life and those observations are something we can all share in.
One story that particularly hit home with us was his account of how, now his new “other half” has moved in, he’s no longer allowed to stack the dishwasher – because if he does, he’s likely to “f*ck it up” – you should probably be aware that there are quite a lot of F words in an evening with Alan Carr. It’s the very same situation chez-nous; Mrs Chrisparkle, for all her useful attributes and ability to slay dragons at work, can’t stack a dishwasher for toffee. I have to rush in to the kitchen and neatly sideswipe her out of the way if there’s to be any sense of order. That observation was part of a great sequence of “what you find out about your other half when they move in” – which I would guess (hope?) is part based on truth and part on fantasy. Fortunately I’m pleased to say that Mrs C never tried to install Nazi memorabilia like Mr Carr’s other half (allegedly). The whole evening continued with great energy and high laughter count as he discussed, inter alia, sexy food (recounting the miseries of cooking a risotto), taking his mum on safari, witnessing a psychic do her stuff when she’d got caught in the rain, and the mistaken delight of his father when, as a foetus, the young Alan kicked him on the sofa. And I haven’t even mentioned his interaction with the audience!
Now I’ve seen him do his thing, I understand why Mr Carr is so popular. A hugely entertaining evening, and we’d definitely see him again next time he tours. You can catch him too, as he is taking this show around the UK and Ireland throughout the rest of the year. A great night!