Alan Carr: ‘Performing in theatres is more playful, I can be more “me”’

Alan Carr

Alan Carr

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His Channel 4 talk show Chatty Man is a ratings and award-winning hit, but Alan Carr tells CHRIS BROOM why he’s stepping down from arenas on his new tour.

Considering he’s best known for his Friday night show Chatty Man and that his latest tour is dubbed Yap, Yap, Yap! it’s no surprise to find that comic Alan Carr really is a bit of a motormouth.

The enormous 120-date tour began in February and runs until November, but he rolls in to Southsea’s Kings Theatre for a two-night stand tonight and tomorrow.

When The Guide caught up with Alan, he’d just performed in his home town of Northampton, where his parents came to see the show.

‘They come and see the show once, that’s enough for them,’ says Alan. ‘A lot of the material is about them, so it is nerve-racking.

‘But my mum’s got a good sense of humour, thank God – when you’re talking about your mum or dad, I always get a bit nervous.

Alan Carr after winning a National Television Award in 2012

Alan Carr after winning a National Television Award in 2012

‘Like I said to my mum, if she wants to go on nice holidays and have a new kitchen courtesy of her famous son, then it’s give and take – one night of her being embarrassed pays dividends, you know what I mean?

‘I need material, you need a new kitchen – let’s work together.’

Is there a theme to the new show, then?

‘It’s basically about how I think people have got too many things to say these days, and ironically it takes me two hours of standing on stage to tell people that.

I’m as sober as a judge when I go on stage, after the show I can’t guarantee that. But with the show, I’m dead professional when I go onstage.

Comedian Alan Carr

‘Everyone’s got to comment, everyone’s got an opinion and they have to share it. It’s also a nod to my show Chatty Man and how much I love to talk. It just sort of made sense. It’s what I’m known for – yapping, it sort of works.’

And are you ever lost for words?

‘As you can tell right now, I’m sounding a bit like Barry White,’ he says – sounding unlike any Barry White you’ve ever heard, ‘so it will be more like croak, croak, croak, but Southsea should be getting me at the right time, I might still have a voice by then.’

It transpires that Alan has never played in this part of the world, so at his request The Guide gives him a quick run-down on Portsmouth, its myriad attractions and what the Kings is like.

Alan Carr

Alan Carr

‘That’s part of the reason I chose venues like this,’ says Alan, on hearing about the theatre.

‘The last tour I did was arenas, and I found them a bit unsatisfying. Going back to the smaller theatres is better for the comedy.

‘I found one thing halfway through the arena tour, the show was sort of “it”. It was a good show and I’m proud of it, but I like the chatting to the audience, the ad libbing bits, and you just can’t do that in an arena.

‘And there’s no way I’m trying out a new joke in front of 12,000 people. That is a lonely sound – 12,000 people not laughing, you know what I mean?

‘These theatres, it’s more playful, it’s more “me” and you get a unique show because there’s always something happening – there’s a latecomer, or someone’s wearing a hideous cardigan.

‘You can talk about different things, you can look through the local paper and find interesting stories and people leave going: “I’ve had a special night”, whereas with arenas you get the feeling of: “Next!”

With talk of theatre, we get to panto and Carr’s off: ‘I get asked every year to do panto, but I don’t know, can you really see me as a Widow Twankey?’

As The Guide replies: ‘Yes’, Alan simultaneously answers his own question ‘Yes’, with a giggle. ‘I know, that’s what I’m afraid of. My life’s like a panto anyway.

‘It should work, me doing panto. I went to see Gok (Wan) doing panto, it’s such hard work with the matinees and stuff. Maybe in the future let’s see what happens.’

Alan clearly likes a drink, and on Chatty Man, guests are often fairly well refreshed – but he promises he behaves: ‘I’m as sober as a judge, after the show I can’t guarantee that. But with the show, I’m dead professional when I go on stage.

‘I do have to tone myself down, I don’t want to be staggering on stage.’ A rare pause, and then: ‘Are there any good bars in Southsea?’

The long-running Chatty Man won a Bafta in 2013 and National Television Awards in 2012 and 2015, and Alan revels in the success of his show.

‘Everyone’s got such a short attention span these days. Channel 4 is geared towards a younger audience and none of us are getting any younger, but it’s been amazing and the guests keep getting better.

‘And I won a Bafta for it. I’d wanted one of those for ages, I’m not one of those who is all “awards shawards”, I’m like: “Gimme a Bafta!” I can’t believe it, I’m so grateful people tune in to watch it.’

So who have been the best guests?

‘It’s a weird one, it always goes up a gear when we get the Justin Timberlakes, or the Gagas or the Rihannas, Cameron Diaz and stuff like that. But I also like when I invite my friends on, David Walliams or Gok, and they can be just as good as these Hollywood A-listers because you get a different kind of chat.

‘It’s a double-edged sword – the bigger the name, the bigger the list of things you can’t actually talk about.

‘You’re told you can only talk about the new sitcom or the new film, and if the sitcom’s rubbish, you’re in trouble, and you’ll get told that if you mention anything about their private life, they will walk off and you won’t get any of our stars again.

‘Sometimes it’s not been the nicest of atmospheres and it’s difficult, but I think the public know these stars come with baggage, which is why it’s nice when my mates come on and we talk about anything.’

And there lies the heart of Alan’s success: ‘It’s just us having a chinwag.’

Alan on...

...Marilyn Manson on Chatty Man.

He was off his head and he’s a very odd-looking man, so to see him off his head, was like, “Oh god!” And we couldn’t mention the name of his single because it was so rude, so I was like, let’s just not do this interview.

...being a voice in the new Spongebob movie

I was Seagull Number One, it was very surreal, sitting in a box in a basement in Soho with the director saying: ‘More seagull please, can you say that a bit more flappy please?’

...performing in arenas

They’re so bloody cold, that’s the thing no-one talks about, they’re freezing. Maybe I’m just getting old, maybe I should get a fleece.

Where & when...

Alan Carr: Yap, Yap, Yap! is at The Kings Theatre in Southsea, tonight and tomorrow at 8pm. To check ticket availability go to kingsportsmouth.co.uk or call the box office on (023) 9282 8282.

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