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You Spexy Beast

By James Rampton

Alan Carr is one of the best – and the best-loved – comedians currently at work. And yet he never takes his success for granted. He worries, for instance, that after so many years making TV and radio shows, his fans may no longer remember about his first love: stand-up comedy.

“People might have forgotten that I’m also a stand-up,” says the comedian, who hosts the hugely popular Channel 4 chat show, Alan Carr: Chatty Man. “My last show, ‘Tooth Fairy’, was four years ago now. If I were to leave a stand-up tour any longer, it would start to look like a comeback!”

“Stand-up is my safety blanket. I’m having such a great time at the moment, I hope my TV career lasts. But when it inevitably comes to an end, I’ll always have stand-up. I love doing live comedy. It’s also nice to know that I won’t have to earn money by going into the jungle and eating crocodiles’ testicles!”

What marks Alan out as one of the great stand-ups is his sheer charisma – you could power the whole 02 Arena with the warmth he generates on stage. He reflects on his marvellously close bond with his followers. “I have the best fans in the world!” beams the comedian, whose debut stand-up DVD, “Alan Carr Tooth Fairy” became a number one best-seller.

“People are ever so nice. I get kids coming up wanting to hug me. At live shows, you get such a warm welcome – I receive this tremendous sense of affection from the audience. I think people enjoy the communal experience of watching comedy together. It’s such a buzz. Oh, I adore stand-up!”

Alan goes on to outline the other aspects of live comedy that he loves so much. “Within reason, you can do whatever you want,” says the comic, whose immensely entertaining autobiography, Look Who It Is! My Story, has become a best-seller, selling more than 350,000 copies to date.

“There is no editing and you’re not hanging around for the ratings the next day. I really like the spontaneity of it all. You haven’t got to cut bits out to make sure it fits the twelve minutes before the ads. That’s very liberating. Hopefully people are laughing throughout it and cheering at the end.”

When on tour, the stand-up also loves tapping into the Great British tradition of live performance. “Last time, I played St George’s Hall in Bradford, where Charles Dickens performed A Christmas Carol for the first time. The aura in that venue was incredible – it was like I had never left. You can really soak up the atmosphere in a place like that – unlike some of the more modern venues, where the night before they’ve had Teletubbies The Musical – On Ice!”

Alan proceeds to describe his stand-up style. “It’s about chatting,” muses the comedian, who hosted two very well-received series of his game show, Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong, on Channel 4. “I’m into detailing the minutiae of life. I’m never going to do an hour on tugboats. My audience know what they want from me. The chat show has freed me up. My style is looser now. I’m happy to go off-piste.”

Alan doesn’t bracket himself with the more snide, clever-clever breed of comedians who populate the circuit. “I’d love to be one of those comics, but I’m not. My audience want something else from me: warmth and funny stories. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There is a snobbery in the broadsheets sometimes about comedy. The critics write these incredible reviews: ‘I didn’t laugh once, but what an amazing take on tugboats. Five stars’. It winds me up when people try to be clever for its own sake.”

Ever enthusiastic, Alan leaves us with this observation. “Things just keep getting better and better for me. I was on holiday recently, and I picked up a magazine about house renovations. The first article I turned to had the headline: ‘Make your bedroom as camp as Alan Carr’. It’s funny when people mention your name and everyone knows what they’re talking about. It’s great when you become a byword for something.”

Alan Carr is also a byword for “outstanding stand-up.” So whatever you do, don’t miss him.

Out Now: Alan Carr: Spexy Beast – Universal Pictures