Comedian Jimmy Carr recently suggested we rethink “what jokes are,” explaining, in his estimation, his jokes aren’t about punching, but instead about “tickling.”


Many people assume comedians like Jimmy Carr are void of a conscience. Empty vessels just there to entertain, humiliate, and trample. But during a recent appearance on the Betoota Advocate podcast, Carr said there’s more to him than that (though he does love a good old evisceration).

This insight came when Carr was asked about “dummy spits.” Specifically, the host of the podcast asked: “In these roast environments – in these live shows – I know a lot of your audience is thick-skinned… do you relish it? Do you think, when you hit that nerve, do you go ‘ok I’ve poked the bear and ok, I’m going to poke it again?’ How do you navigate that game?”

Carr replied: “It’s less combative than the question suggests. When you think about what jokes are – in my estimation they’re not ever punching; it’s tickling.” Carr continued: “If the person isn’t laughing, if they don’t get the joke… I mean fair enough, if there’s a drunk guy at a show or a drunk woman at a show it’s like you might just eviscerate that person and the rest of the audience can laugh and they’re not laughing and they get escorted from the building.”

“That occasionally happens and I won’t lie, it’s a lot of fun when it does, but more often than not it’s someone with the same sense of humour as you that would love to be on stage and they’re trying to say something funny.”

Jimmy Carr

Image Credit: NBC News

“Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t and it’s fun. It’s like a fun thing. People get it. So if someone has a sense of humour [failure?] at one of my shows I guess they’re getting kicked out.” He was then asked if he had any plans to retire any time soon, to which he replied: “You’re dreaming” and “the guy that attacked Dave Chapelle is going to have to do a better job on me.”

Further comments Carr made during the podcast included comparing political correctness in comedy to “health and safety at a rodeo” and making the observation that “the idea I would change my show, to please people who aren’t at the show” is absurd.

“You can laugh about anything, but not with anybody.”

Jimmy Carr

Illustrating this point, and making the point that (he hopes) game recognises game, Carr told The Betoota Advocate about the time he made a pretty heavy joke about Pete Davidson’s dad (which seemed to be received as a tickle, not a punch).

On top of that, Carr revealed he loves hecklers, because if they fail, it makes him look good, and if they succeed (and actually roast him), he still gets paid for their good work (“as long as people are laughing I don’t give a f*ck who said the funny thing”).

“I got 300 lines in and the audience got one.”

Jimmy Carr

He also said a lot of comedians don’t feel like they belong, and feel like they are an ‘other,’ which is why they became comedians, advising the Betoota crew, the next time they interview a comedian: “Ask them why they didn’t think they belong, because none of us think we belong.”

He also said: “Ask them which one of their parents was sick [because] it’s not universal but most comics… one of their parents had either a mental or physical problem and they had to make things ok within the house and then that becomes something your personality is built around – making people laugh and making people feel better.”

Carr, who calls himself the enemy of scalpers (due to how many shows he’s putting on) is touring Australia next year.

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