Jimmy Carr

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Jimmy Carr
Jimmy Carr, 2015-04-13 3 (crop).jpg
Carr in 2015
Birth nameJames Anthony Patrick Carr
Born (1972-09-15) 15 September 1972 (age 49)
Hounslow, London, England [1][2][3]
MediumStand-up, television
  • British
  • Irish[4]
Alma materGonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Years active2000–present
GenresBlack humour,[5] blue humour, satire
Subject(s)Celebrities, current events, politics, sex
Partner(s)Karoline Copping (2001–present)

James Anthony Patrick Carr (born 15 September 1972) is a British-Irish stand-up comedian, television presenter, writer, and actor.[6] He is known for his dark humour, distinctive laugh, and heckler interaction.[7] After working as a marketing executive, Carr moved to a career in comedy in 2000.[8][9]

After becoming established as a stand-up comedian, Carr began to appear in a number of Channel 4 television shows, becoming the host of panel shows 8 Out of 10 Cats, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, a comedy panel show that airs each December to review the past year.

Early life and education[edit]

Carr was born on 15 September 1972[10] in Hounslow, London, England,[1][2][3] the second of three sons[11] born to Nora Mary (née Lawlor; 19 September 1943 – 7 September 2001)[12][13] and Patrick James "Jim" Carr (born 1945), an accountant who became the treasurer for computer company Unisys. His Irish parents were married in 1970 and separated in 1994, but never divorced.[11]

Carr spent most of his early life in the village of Farnham Common, South Buckinghamshire, where he attended Farnham Common School, followed by Burnham Grammar School.[14] He completed sixth form at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, where he says his academic potential was identified and nurtured.[15][16]

Carr's family remained in contact with their Irish connections and made frequent trips to Limerick and Kilkee. After earning four 'A' grades at the GCE Advanced Level exams,[17] Carr read social science and political science at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.[16] He graduated with a first[18] in 1994.[8][19] Carr went on to work in the marketing department at Shell, but took voluntary redundancy in January 2000, as he felt "miserable" there.[16] Carr took a course in neuro-linguistic programming, which he has claimed helped him realise how his mind was working to hold him back. "Well now why couldn't I go and become a comedian? I could go and give that a go".[20]

Within a month, Carr had taken leave from his work at the oil company and began performing as a stand-up comic. He performed his first paid stand-up gig later that month, having only done his first unpaid pub show the previous month.[21]




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.

From 2004 until 2006, 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 each December. He has also presented special episodes known as The Big Fat Quiz of Everything.

Since 2005, Carr has presented the comedy panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats. The show aired on Channel 4 until 2016 when it moved to More4 and then later to E4. Since 2012, Carr has also presented 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, a combination of his panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats and daytime quiz show Countdown.

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 in January 2011.[22]

In 2014 and 2015, Carr guest-presented two episodes of Sunday Night at the Palladium on ITV.[23]

In 2018, Carr presented American comedy panel show The Fix on Netflix.

Guest appearances[edit]

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 30 November 2007, chaired by Ann Widdecombe with whom he "flirted" outrageously. Later in the episode, Widdecombe stated, "I don't think I shall return to this programme." Carr has appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks twice. He has also frequently appeared on panel shows A League of Their Own and QI, being one of the most-featured guests for both shows. 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.[24] He was described as "the worst driver we've ever had" and "the luckiest man alive" by Top Gear's test driver the Stig.[25]

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 punched 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.

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[26] and BBC Cumbria reported that Skiddle were transporting the replica from Preston to the Wickerman Festival.[27]

In 2012, Carr was a celebrity guest on Channel 4's The Last Leg. Carr wrote and starred in a sketch for the 25th anniversary special of Comic Relief in 2013. He also appeared in BBC's Top Gear in June 2013.

In October 2014, Carr appeared in a comedy sketch for Channel 4's The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night raising awareness of testicular cancer. In the sketch he lures model Daisy Lowe to a hotel suite to check his testicles. The sketch also featured Jamie Cullum, Lance Armstrong and Rylan Clark-Neal.[citation needed]

Carr has appeared as a contestant on celebrity editions of Deal or No Deal[28] (won £750 for Helen & Douglas House), The Chase (won £1,000 for Variety Club), Benchmark[29] (won £1,000 for Elton John AIDS Foundation), Tipping Point[30] (won £7,000 for Blue Cross) and Catchphrase.


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 comedian Iain Morris. Features of the show 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 item consists of playing in sequence one artistically respectable but underrated or overlooked song (The first was 'Touch Sensitive' by the Fall) and one guilty pleasure (Liberty X's "Just a Little" followed) On 9 July 2006, the item was renamed "A Song to Patronise, A Song To Sanitise".

In January 2006, Carr made a joke on Radio 4's Loose Ends, the punchline of which implied that Gypsy women smelled.[31] Although the BBC issued an apology, Carr refused to apologise and continued to use the joke. He appeared in two episodes of the radio series of Flight of the Conchords in 2005.[32]

Stand-up comedy[edit]

Carr performs stand-up tours continuously over the course of the year, taking only five weeks off between them.[33] 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'.[34] 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 the 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 latest show, entitled Joke Technician.

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.[35] On Twitter, he released details about his new DVD entitled Jimmy Carr: Telling Jokes, which was released on 2 November 2009.[36] Also in July 2009, Carr toured with Las Vegas band the Killers.

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.[37] Carr defended his own joke as "totally acceptable" in an interview with The Guardian.[38]

Carr in 2015

Carr's sixth Live DVD, Jimmy Carr: Making People Laugh, was released on 8 November 2010.[39] 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.[40]

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.

In June 2019, Carr received criticism about what he said during his touring show ‘Terribly Funny’. Brian Logan of The Guardian wrote Carr “continues to rely on dubious jokes about dwarves, fat women and FGM”, with "relentless downward kicking"[41] (also known as punching-down). Carr was also criticized by charity Little People UK (co-founded by actor Warwick Davis) accusing him of prejudice for an "offensive" abortion joke he made about people with dwarfism.[42][43]

Second Life[edit]

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.[44] 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.

The Naked Jape[edit]

In 2006, Carr and Lucy Greeves[45] published a book titled The Naked Jape: Uncovering the Hidden World of Jokes on the history and theory of joke-telling.

Tax avoidance[edit]

In June 2012, Carr's involvement in an alleged K2 tax avoidance scheme came to light after an investigation by The Times.[46] 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. Then-Prime Minister David Cameron said: "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."[47] Carr subsequently pulled out of the scheme, apologising for "a terrible error of judgement".[9]

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.[48] Earlier in 2012 during the second series of Channel 4's satirical news programme 10 O'Clock Live, Carr had lampooned people who avoid paying their taxes.[9] 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".[9]

In February 2018, Carr appeared on Room 101, where he talked about the controversy. Though he admitted that what he did was wrong, he said that there was some level of hypocrisy in the comments that Cameron had made about him in 2012, noting that members of Cameron's family and Queen Elizabeth II had subsequently been mentioned in the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers tax evasion scandals. Carr said that the law should become clearer by eliminating any loopholes, instead of leaving it up to individuals to decide what is morally right.[49]

Personal life[edit]

At age 26, Carr had what he calls "an early midlife crisis", during which he lost his Catholic faith.[50] He has since made comments critical of organised religion. In 2015, he said: "As for being a Christian, yes, it seems ridiculous now, but I genuinely believed there was a big man in the sky who could grant wishes. Writers like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins helped change my view, but I don't go on stage banging on about being an atheist ... I'm just a guy who tells jokes."[51] Carr has stated that he underwent a lot of psychotherapy (specifically neuro-linguistic programming) at the time of his crisis in order to help him cope with his loss of faith, and that he is qualified as a therapist.[52]

Carr has spoken of the depression he experienced in his 20's, while working in marketing and credits his decision to pursue a comedy career, in helping him to cope with depression.[53]

Carr lives in North London with his Canadian-born girlfriend Karoline Copping, a commissioning editor for Channel 5,[8] with whom he has been in a relationship since 2001.[54] The couple have a son,[55] born in 2019.[56]




Title Years
Charm Offensive 2003–2004
A Public Display of Affection 2004–2006
Gag Reflex 2006–2007
Repeat Offender 2007–2008
Joke Technician 2008–2009
Rapier Wit 2009–2010
Laughter Therapy 2010–2011
Gagging Order 2012–2013
Funny Business 2014–2015
The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour 2016–2018
Terribly Funny 2019–2021

Comedy specials[edit]

Title Released Notes
Live 8 November 2004 Live at London's Bloomsbury Theatre
Stand Up 7 November 2005
Comedian 5 November 2007
In Concert 3 November 2008
Telling Jokes 2 November 2009
Making People Laugh 8 November 2010 Live at Glasgow's Clyde Auditorium
Being Funny 21 November 2011 Live at Birmingham's Symphony Hall
Laughing and Joking 18 November 2013 Live at London's Hammersmith Apollo
Funny Business 18 March 2016[64] Netflix special
Live at London's Hammersmith Apollo
The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits 12 March 2019 Netflix special
Live at Dublin's Olympia Theatre


Year Title Role
2006 Alien Autopsy Gary's manager
Confetti Antony
Stormbreaker John Crawford
2007 I Want Candy Video store employee
2009 Telstar Gentleman
2016 The Comedian's Guide to Survival Himself
Magik Jacob (voice)
Year Title Role Channel
2002–2003, 2017–2019 Your Face or Mine? Co-presenter E4 (2002–2003)
Comedy Central (2017—2019)
2003–2004 Distraction Presenter Channel 4
2003 Have I Got News for You Guest presenter BBC One
2004–present The Big Fat Quiz of the Year Presenter Channel 4
2005–present 8 Out of 10 Cats Presenter Channel 4 (2005–2015)
More4 (2016–2017)
E4 (2017—)
2005 The Friday Night Project Presenter Channel 4
2007 Live at the Apollo Guest presenter (3x02) BBC One
2008 Commercial Breakdown Presenter BBC One
2010 Channel 4's Alternative Election Night Co-presenter Channel 4
2010–2011 A Comedy Roast Presenter
2011–2013 10 O'Clock Live Co-presenter
2012–present 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Presenter
2014, 2015 Sunday Night at the Palladium Guest presenter ITV
2015–2017 Drunk History Narrator Comedy Central
2016 Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe Himself/roaster
2018–present Roast Battle Presenter
The Fix Host Netflix
2019 The Inbetweeners Fwends Reunited Host Channel 4
2020 Blankety Blank Christmas Special 2020 Participant BBC One
Back to the 2010s with Jimmy Carr Host Channel 4
2021 I Can See Your Voice[65] Celebrity panellist BBC One
Guest appearances


  • 2004, Distraction Quiz Book (foreword)
  • 2006, with Lucy Greeves, The Naked Jape: Uncovering the Hidden World of Jokes (UK), or Only Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh (USA)
  • 2021, Before & Laughter: A Life-Changing Book


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External links[edit]