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Alan Carr, the art of conversation


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Alan Carr, is a man whose reputation exceeds him, having risen to fame on British television with The Friday Night Project and Chatty Man, he has interviewed some of the biggest names in the entertainment. His formidable reputation is not undeserved, possessing an uncanny ability to make his guests laugh is something which most definitely sets him apart from others in the business. Next month it’s time for Australia to play host as he brings YAP!YAP!YAP! down under, Ahead of his tour he took some time out to have a chat with writer Jessi Lewis

So Allan, what can we expect from your upcoming tour?

It’s the tour that i did here in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia its very autobiographical, it’s about the other half, it’s about life, as you know it’s not very political my stuff, so don’t expect any governments collapsing, it’s just about me, so you’ll enjoy it if you like me, or you watch Chatty Man, look it’s just me on stage really.

So let’s skip past all the success you have enjoyed across your career, what have been some of those low points you’d rather wish to forget?

Low points in my whole career, I mean how long have you got love? In the early days, there was a lot of crap, those talking head shows I used to sign up for them, and talk about any old shit they’d call up and be like “Can you talk about ABBA?” or “Can you talk about this or that?” and you’d just sit there talking.

I was a sperm once in a pair of roller skates in an advert. That was a particular low point, I can’t skate so I was just going round holding onto the other sperms tail trying to keep myself up.

Why do you think people love your show in particular? What do you think helped to set Chatty Man apart or elevated it above other shows that where presented around the same time?

Its weird, chat shows because everyone thinks they can do one, then people do it and it just fails, there’s loads of examples of chat shows that have just failed or fallen by the wayside, done by really good people. I don’t really know, the thing is at least whenever you think of Chatty Man, at least I look interested, and it feels like a proper conversation, like you’re having a laugh.

I feel with my show it’s very relaxed, there was this thing a few years back to get your guests to cry, but sometimes I think you can tell more if they are laughing. Like if you get a Rihanna laughing or Justin Timberlake and their guard comes down, I think you have more fun, and I think it’s better for them, for me and for the viewer, wouldn’t you agree?

What was life like before comedy, and how did you arrive here? Where you are now one of the Britain’s most well known and loved comedians also achieving critical success internationally?

Well it was a weird moment, I’ve been doing stand up for ages, I did that because I was working in a dead end job in a local call center I was covered in psoriasis; I was. I was at my wits end and it was absolute crap. I was telling everyone about how “My job’s so rubbish” and people where just laughing and saying Alan, you got to go on stage and tell people this.

So I went to this local pub and went on stage everyone started howling at me taking about my work in the call center, and they were laughing. I then received the comedian of the year award, and that sent me off to the festival in Edinburgh and I ended up winning.

Anyway, I was doing this show this TV pilot called The Gay Computer, where I was inside a box interviewing celebrities yeah? It was so low rent, and I was made to go around singing, “that’s so gay.” I’m not proud of this, actually when we are talking about the lowest points in my career, it was being stuck inside a box as the gay computer.

Then I got the phone call, from this chat show called the Jonathon Ross Show, this was like when he was like on BBC1 primetime, his warm up man is ill, and he was like “Alan can you come in at the last minute, we need someone now, can you just get here”. So I went to the studio, I was shitting myself, terrified, but then when I did my stand up, I could hear everyone in the audience laughing, they were howling and I could hear Jonathon laughing behind the scenes, the next day he called me up and I asked me to become his permanent warm up man.

If I couldn’t get out of the gay computer box, I wouldn’t be here now, it was one of those weird, weird moments.

How much of an influence has your sexuality had on your career, do you feel it has helped progress you or in some way or perhaps held you back?

I’m so lucky being in the E.U. woops I mean Great Britain, where no one really gives a shit about being gay, I mean there’s not many other countries in the world is there, where you have Graham Norton on the BBC totally gay, and me on Channel 4 totally gay, yeah I mean could you imagine if Jonathon Ross came out, we’d have the whole set, we’d have a field day, can you imagine? But no one really bats an eyelid about it, which is good, it’s the way it should be.

I will say something though about my stand up that does get on my nerves a bit, with the stand up people say there is this stigma with gay comedians. I always get this “all he talks about is being gay, about gay sex, and everything” but that’s not true, if you watch my DVD’s, I’ve done three tours now, and I don’t mention it at all. It’s like with female comedians it’s “All they talk about is their periods,” but that’s not actually true. And this is what pisses me off, I sort of get dismissed unfairly, I mean if I talked about that all the time, then yeah fair enough, but I don’t.

So in a lot of ways you are dealing with perceptions and prejudice. So criticize me, say I’m not funny, but don’t make up shit. “Alan, I didn’t like you material on DIY, I thought it was crap”, or “I don’t like that joke about cakes, you’re rubbish” but don’t make up something I didn’t say.

Lets talk inspiration; do you find material from those places and scenarios that we find ourselves in over the course of day-to-day life?

It’s weird you know, I think those things do inspire me, I don’t know what about them inspires me, but I just think it’s having that eye, it’s like a muscle, sometimes I’ll see something, or I see someone carrying a bag or see someone and how they drink tea in a café, and I think, ooh that could be quite something, but some days you walk by and won’t pick up on anything, it won’t relate. I think you have to be open to people, it’s almost like being a bit like psychic sometimes you hear the voices sometimes you don’t, but they come through whenever and wherever they please.

And across your career, who have been some of those guests that you have had the pleasure of interviewing that left an impression on you?

I tell you one person, being a chat show host and being a comedian, you have your good and your bad days, I had Robin Williams on and you know he died the next year, obviously nothing to do with me. I was watching him, and I just thought that’s such a wonderful thing about having a chat show and being on TV, that you do get to meet your heroes. Like Amy Winehouse, when I did a show called the Friday Night Project, she came on and not saying we became friends or anything, but we’d often see each other at events and say hello, and we ended up at dinner together once, but you meet these people, then you blink, and they’re gone, but you know what you can say I met them, I had a conversation with them and you treasure that.You see these people on TV like Robin William or Amy Winehouse and they’ve got all these problems depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, and you think they’ve got it all but they haven’t.

Having achieved critical acclaim, could you name five things you would still like to achieve before you die?

I feel that there is like a sitcom sitting inside of me, I don’t know what it is but I want to write a sitcom. I want to get back into my 34-inch waist jeans, I want to visit New Zealand, and that’s nearly done. Paul (my other half) says he wants me to Skydive, I think he just wants me to die. Learn a musical instrument, a proper one, I don’t play anything at the moment, but you know I want to be that person at the party, when they have a piano, and just have a go and you just start playing amazing things. You know what life is so grim at the minute, I’d say just survive a bit longer.

Alan Carr YAP!YAP!YAP! plays Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on Wednesday the 31st of August, alongside performances in all other major cities, to book your tickets click here

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