Interview: Alan Carr

Alan Carr visits Preston Guild Hall for a sold-out show on May Day. JAMES RAMPTON met the Chatty Man
The Chatty Man Alan Carr - Photo by Andy Hollingworth Chatty Man Alan Carr - Photo by Andy Hollingworth
The Chatty Man Alan Carr - Photo by Andy Hollingworth

In the middle of my interview with Alan Carr, a loud police siren starts wailing in the background. Quick as a flash, the comedian jokes: “I’m so in demand, even the police want me,” before adding with a laugh: “Or maybe they’ve seen my act and want to arrest me!”

False modesty courtesy of the Chatty Man, whose mammoth 120-date UK tour arrives for a long sold-out show at Preston Guild Hall on May 1.

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The comic, who boasts a huge following after 13 series of his C4 chat show is loving life back on the road.

“I adore touring – it keeps me out of mischief! This is the biggest tour I’ve ever done.”

Carr is just as hilarious in person as on stage. The comic, who has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Bafta for Best Entertainment Performance and the 2013 British Comedy Award for Best Comedy Entertainment Personality, possesses “funny bones” and finds humour in any situation.

Alan, whose new show Yap Yap Yap!’ comes after previous hits as ‘Tooth Fairy’ and ‘Spexy Beast’ is relishing being back in his stand-up element.

“I love live comedy,” he beams.

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“Sometimes the politics of doing the chat show and booking guests can be frustrating. And occasionally you’ll have a dud guest with nothing to say.

“But when it’s just you on stage with a mic in front of lots of people who have come specifically to see you, it’s fantastic. You’re the boss. I get such a buzz on stage. It’s a complete adrenalin rush.

“When you dream up new material and think, ‘Great, I can add that to the set,’ it’s a wonderful feeling. If it works, a new joke always brings a smile to my face. It’s such a thrill.”

Alan’s massive fanbase is mobilised whenever he tours.

“Some venues have sold out within five minutes,” the comic reveals.

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People have apparently been sleeping outside to get tickets – oh please, stop it! That’s sweet, but unnecessary.

“I always leave it three years between tours. I don’t know how Jimmy Carr does it, touring all the time.

“But I’m lucky enough to have the chat show to keep me busy in between. And it means that if I haven’t been touring for three years, it’s more of an event when I do.”

Alan, who recently hosted Channel 4’s flagship fundraising show ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ which went on to raise an amazing £14m for Cancer Research, seems as devoted to his fans as they are to him.

“They’re always lovely,” he enthuses.

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“A lot of them want to mother me. I’ve got one of those faces that makes women want to put me on their chest and stroke my hair. Blokes do the same – they always want to nestle me on their chests!”

The warmth of his fans gives Alan a real glow.

Twitter can be a nasty, spiteful place. It makes you think the British public are awful. But Twitter isn’t real.

“The real British public are lovely. People are really warm – they feel they know me, and they’re always bringing me presents! They bring me lots of knickers and ropey drinks for the globe on my chat show.”

Such is the rapport, Alan deliberately chose to perform at more intimate venues on the tour.

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“I could have played arenas and done the tour in a month, but in those big places you can’t talk to the audience.

“If you mention the jumper of someone in the front row, 11,999 other people say, ‘What’s he on about?’

“With arena shows, the material doesn’t evolve. You don’t want to take the gamble of trying out new stuff in front of 12,000 people.

“And if you lose the room at an arena, you can’t get it back because it’s so big.

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“Putting a show on in a theatre, everyone there feels they have had a unique night that won’t happen anywhere else.

“These people have paid good money to see you, and you can’t let them down. If they’ve had a crap day, they just want to go out and have a laugh – and it’s your responsibility to deliver. You want to perform for them because they’re so lovely.”

So what subjects are covered in Yap Yap Yap!?

“This show is very personal. It’s a gamble including so much personal stuff, but it pays dividends. The more personal stuff you put in, the more people go ‘Aaah!’ Also, the audience can smell if you start lying in your act. There is an honesty in this show that people will appreciate.

“It’s about co-habiting and how it affects you. I talk about my partner. The show is about my life, so he has to be in it.

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“I didn’t want to start lying and saying I still live on my own in Stretford. My partner doesn’t necessarily like being part of the show, but I said to him, ‘Look, it’s paying the bills. See those shoes you’re wearing? Comedy bought them, so stop moaning! The show is about manning up.

“I called it Yap Yap,Yap! because there’s a lot of waffle out there. With blogs and Twitter everyone has an opinion nowadays. I can’t believe I’ll be waffling on stage for two hours – I’m adding to it. It’s my own fault!”

The good news is that even if you missed out on a ticket you’ll still be able to enjoy Yap Yap Yap! as Alan will be recording a DVD of the show for release by Universal Pictures (UK) in the autumn.

Having known Alan for many years, I can confirm that, despite his high profile, he remains the same grounded and lovely person he has always been.

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“Fame is very nice – I’d never take it for granted,” he said.

“You get lots of great opportunities. I was asked to present a Pride of Britain Award, and that was great.

“And I also get marvellous presents. So if fans who are coming to the show could bring me some awful wine to put in my globe on the chat show, that would be very much appreciated!”