Pop Goes The News — Jimmy Carr is one of the most popular comedians to perform at Just For Laughs and one of the festival’s biggest fans.
“It’s like summer camp for comedians,” he gushes. “You do the shows — they’re like the activities, if you like — but the real fun is the lasting friendships.”
The 44-year-old UK comedian, whose longtime girlfriend is Toronto-born Karoline Copping, has stood on a JFL stage almost every summer for the last 15 years. He had a five-night run with his show Funny Business in 2016 and this year he was part of The Nasty Show. (He also presented at the JFL Comedy Awards and will roast Montreal at the JFL closing gala on Monday night.)
Carr’s look, delivery and laugh are instantly recognizable and beloved. Best of all, he’s humble enough to admit that he’s still drawing inspiration from his peers.
Speaking to PopGoesTheNews.com on Monday morning, Carr rhymes off the comics he went to see during this year’s festival: David Baddiel, Mike Birbiglia, John Mulaney (“incredible”) and Ryan Hamilton (“inspirational”).
“Ryan Hamilton did 45 minutes of entirely clean, family-friendly material that was hilarious,” he recalls. “And it’s quite inspirational for me because I’m quite rude. That’s my sense of humour. But I really kind of admire the skill of that.”
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Before he wraps up another JFL tour of duty, Carr will skewer the city he loves and its people.
To wit, at The Nasty Show, he noted: “People from Toronto are Torontonians. People from Vancouver are Vancourites. And people from Montreal are… racist.”
And then: “Most Americans can barely speak one language but here in Montreal it’s different. You people can barely speak two languages.”
He also managed to work in jokes about Karla Homolka and the late René Angélil.
Carr says Montrealers get it.
“They react incredibly well to jokes about themselves,” he explains. “Montreal has got a very, very strong sense of identity because it’s not really like anywhere else. So it doesn’t worry about there being jokes because it identifies itself as different.
“So, people joking about it is just acknowledging that this place is a little bit special. It’s a little bit different from the rest of North America.”
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Carr’s material comes from a mind that’s both brilliant and sick. Surprisingly, he insists there are some topics that are off limits.
“There’s a few things that you stay clear of because you don’t have an angle, you don’t have anything to say about that thing,” he says. “And then there’s stuff more generally in life that… there are things that happen in the news where there is no sense of closure yet.
“You can joke about pretty much anything once there’s closure but when it’s still an ongoing thing…”
Carr cites tragedies like the 1989 Hillsborough disaster (96 people died and hundreds were injured in the English soccer stadium crush) and this year’s Grenfell Tower fire in London (in which more than 80 people died) as non-starters.
“There’s no sense of closure there. There’s no sense of ‘Oh, a terrible thing happened.’ It feels like it’s still happening.”