Bugs' interview with Alan Carr originally ran in the July 2016 issue of Fugues magazine.
Out comedian Alan Carr has become one of the hottest comedy stars in Britain since winning the BBC New Comedy Award for Stand-up in 2001, and is probably best-known around the world for his hugely popular long-running television talk show Alan Carr: Chatty Man. In addition to being an LGBT fan favourite himself, Carr’s TV guests over the years include Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Adele, Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell, Mariah Carey and Bette Midler. Clearly, Carr loves his divas.
Here’s my fun one-on-one with Carr on the eve of his Just For Laughs solo show Yap Yap Yap, which runs at Salle Claude-Léveillée at Place des Arts from July 25 to 30.
What do you like least about celebrity interviews like this one?
Alan Carr: “The intense media training these celebrities get can really spoil a good interview. You get guests on at the start of their career who are SO much fun, they then get more famous, break America and come back on and they’ve been media-trained to fuck. Any hint of personality or uniqueness has been beaten out of them! Everything is so vanilla – they love everyone, every track on their album is brilliant, oh and when I’m in England I just love eating fish and chips, yeah yeah yeah, and you just know they’ve got a drinking problem, shagging their assistant, and halfway through a nervous breakdown.”
Who is your favourite celebrity guest?
“Rihanna is a lot of fun, because she goes with the flow, you don’t get a massive list of things you can’t talk about. She’s everything you want in a guest: funny, sexy, and talented. She’s like a Bajan me! I also love Grace Jones because she is NUTS!!”
What distinguishes British comedians from American comedians?
“I haven’t really seen that many differences between us, although, the publicity photos are very different. Everyone looks amazing with their dazzling smiles and smooth skin. In Britain we will tend to pull faces, gurn and look a bit more wacky. If I stood there smoldering, looking out with ‘shag me’ eyes in a photo I think people would take the piss.”
Were you funny as a kid?
“I’m not like a typical comedian – I was never the class clown – I kind of got laughed at rather than laughed with, so I sort of beat people to it. I was in an absolutely awful job in a call centre going nowhere fast and I decided to do stand-up as a release and I guess it worked out.”
How did growing up gay inform your world view, and how does being gay shape your comedy?
“Some people think that because I am camp I am one of those professional gays who have a gay dentist, gay doctors, only support gay charities and need gas and air if they go in a straight bar. That’s not me. I don’t see things in a gay way, I try to see the joke. It's hard enough coming up with jokes let alone then putting them through a ‘gay’ filter to see if they fit your persona. For me, a joke is a joke, fair and square. If it makes me laugh then I put it in the act. An audience full of gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, black, white, people all laughing at the same joke – now that’s what I call REAL equality.”
Are you a gay comedian, or are you a comedian who happens to be gay?
“I am a comedian who happens to be gay. It interests me that some people say all I talk about is being gay in my act and if you look at my last three DVDs I don’t even mention it. I deliberately didn’t because I knew I would get that criticism. It’s strange: Irish comedians can talk about being Irish and their Irish sensibilities for a whole hour, Aussie comics, Australian things. But if I talk about gay things its ‘have a day off – change the record’. It’s odd but very telling. Straight comedians can make jokes about anal sex and it’s edgy, but a gay comedian talking about it, ironically someone who might actually partake in bumming is seen as unpalatable. I guess it's easier for some people to just dismiss it then confront their prejudices. They do the same with female comedians – ‘all they talk about is periods and being fat’ – which is complete bollocks. I think they are scared that if they laugh at one of my punchlines they might turn gay.”
Do you consider yourself an outsider?
“Oh my God these questions! In British gay lifestyle magazines the questions are ‘Who’s your favourite celebrity crush? Do you wear boxers or briefs? What’s Katy Perry’s best song?’ This is like talking to a therapist – I’ll be pointing to a doll next saying where the homophobe touched me! I think I need to come to Canada and lighten the mood over there!”
Is there a fun and friendly rivalry between you and Graham Norton?
“The British Press like to pit us against each other but it’s all showbiz wank. Graham is a friend and a fantastic chat-show host. He makes it look so easy and his line-ups are to die for. (The bastard! Ha ha). However our dogs hate each other – I went for a walk with my dogs in a park near Graham’s house and as it happens Graham was walking in there too. I said ‘Hi Graham’ and at that moment our dogs started snarling at each other and trying to go for one another. It would have made a great pap shot or a TV program: ‘When Gay Celebrity Dogs Attack!’”
Do you have a funny or scary anecdote about a live onstage moment that spun out of control?
“I was performing last year on stage in the Midlands in this really old Georgian theatre and I did a joke about a Ouija board and as soon as I said the word Ouija the bulb shattered above my head and I was plunged into darkness. It was so scary. Me and the whole audience went ‘Oooh.’ I’d never been heckled by a ghost before.”