Alan Carr

November 2007 - Carr in the community

Alan Carr Out cover Alan Carr has spent a good part of the year trawling the UK with his one-man stage show. On the eve of the show's DVD debut, he explains to David Hudson why stand-up remains his first love, and the ups and downs of life on the road...

Comedian Alan Carr is fast becoming a household name thanks to his appearances on C4's Friday Night Project. The 31-year-old master of campery has also spent the past few months touring the UK with his stage show, performing to some of the biggest audiences of his career. He took time out from preparing for a show in Bournemouth to have a chat with Out In The City about life on the road, his love life, and his ambitions.

So how's the tour going?
The tour's going really well. We did Kings Lynn last night, and Bournemouth just needs a little bit of a push. It's about two-thirds full and we need a last-minute rush. It's all part of scene, just whoring yourself around like a prostitute, but it's all worth doing.
How do you find life on the road?
I quite like it. I like it when you've got interesting places, like York or Edinburgh or Glasgow. It's when you've got these little rough towns, like Port Talbot, Skegness...
They all merge into one...
Yeah, it's just Poundland after Poundland... and the thing is, when you get kicked out of the hotel at 11am, you've got to wander around. Nowadays, it's not like the old days, I'm on the telly. You get people poking you in the street. You've got nowhere to hide. I feel like Diana sometimes. Especially in Port Talbot. There's your headline, 'Alan claims to be the new Diana'... don't you dare put that!
You're the Queen of Hearts for the people of Port Talbot?
Yeah, and I'm looking for my Dodi!
Pop stars often say that performing live is wonderful, but it's the other 23 hours of the day that are a pain when touring...
That is so true, but at least they've got a Winnebago. I've just got a Smart car!
What's guaranteed to upset you at a hotel?
I like hotels, and I don't mind that. It's just when you get a chambermaid knocking on your door at 7am... what's that about? Why are you waking me up at 7am? I hate those times when you're woken up and then can't get back to sleep. I stayed in one hotel and they put me right next to the laundry door, which squeaked loudly whenever they opened the door. That really wound me up - I like a bit of peace.
Have you demanded they change your room yet?
On no, I'm dead easy going. I've asked them to shut the fuck up, but never to change my room.
Have you had any trouble from obsessive fans?
I can spot them a mile off, you know, with the gleam in their eye. I know how to diffuse it now. There was a time when I used to give my number out. You heard about these people being weirdos but you thought 'oh no they're not', but they are. They're real weirdos. A woman sent me a photo of herself naked with a note saying "you make my panties wet - this is what you've done to me." That was a bit off-putting. How she thought I could possibly satisfy her as a woman, she must have been a bit of a Helen Keller; blind, deaf and dumb!
Do you get gay groupies?
No, they don't bother with me. I don't think it's gonna happen, is it? They go for the Will Youngs of this world, don't they? They don't go for people like me.
Maybe not in Bournemouth - perhaps you'll have to wait to reach Brighton.
Well yeah, if I can't pull in Brighton then there must be something wrong with me!
You've done two series of the Friday Night Project for Channel 4 this year - will it definitely be back in the new year?
Yeah, we've got a Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve special, and then we're coming back in May.
Just in time for next year's Big Brother?
Yeas, once again we'll be dressing up as the freaks!
Some newspapers reported recently that you were dismissive of having to have the Big Brother contestants on the show - is that true?
Oh, I only said I'd glass them. I dunno... over the years they seem to have become more and more retarded. Do you remember how lovely it was when Brian Dowling won? He came out and the shock... well, he just couldn't believe it. But now they're in there talking about their deals, and they've got their outfits all planned, and they just seem to be the most obnoxious people going.
Well you've met most of them. Are they obnoxious or a complete mixture of types?
Pretty obnoxious. Really irritating and annoying. We'll be on the show, and we'll have the likes of David Tennent, Chris Moyles, Mel C, and they're all lovely, and they'll shyly ask for a glass of water or something, and then we get the Big Brother lot on and they're walking around as if they're Norma Desmond.
Would you ever do a reality TV show? You must have been asked?
No, but I've been offered them all. Big Brother, I'm A Celebrity..., Celebrity Hairdressing, and one called 'The Farm', but not the one that was on TV, a different one that Channel Five were going to do, with ten homosexuals on a farm who then got voted off one by one.
Maybe it's a good thing that that never made it to the screen?
Well can you imagine how dreadful that would be? They want just a load of gay people shrieking 'Mud, eeeeurgh' or 'Dung, uuurgh!'. That's what they want.
Do you ever feel that some of the things you're offered are pigeon-holing you?
Well yeah, I know I've only got myself to blame though. To quote that well-known gay anthem, "I am what I am".
Have you ever turned anything down because you just thought it was exploiting that stereotype?
Yeah, I get loads of scripts, and I'd like to do a bit of comedy acting just to add that other string to my bow, but you look at the script and the first line is "oooh, look at me roots," or "hello boys!". I think "I wanna do acting, but I could do this in my sleep!" It's such a stereotype, I don't know why they're even bothering to get a gay actor. That's a bit soul-destroying. There are allegedly so many writers out there who never get a chance to shine, but half the scripts I get are shit!
Graham Norton said something recently about producers asking him to 'camp it up a bit more'. Have you ever experienced that?
Ooh no. I get asked to camp it down a bit! I mean, I know I get stick from some members of the gay community for being camp, and that I'm a role model and stuff, but I don't see myself as a role model. I'm just a stand-up comedian who works on the telly. I don't want straight or gay people to see me as a role model. I think some gay people need to get out of that mentality of thinking that everyone who's gay and who happens to be on the telly should be a role model for them. We're not. If we want equality, do we say that Billy Connolly is a good role model for straight people? Or Rose West is a good model for women? I don't know why they've got it into their head that anyone gay has to be a representative for everyone else who's gay. It's preposterous.
Is there any truth in the rumour that ITV want you to host Blind Date?
Erm... no, no, no, that's not true at all. I've just signed an exclusivity deal with Channel 4 so I won't be doing anything with ITV for at least the next year. I think we'll just leave Blind Date where it was. I think the innocence that it had in the 80s, it's not there any more. Do it now and there would be people fucking behind the screen when you pulled it back!
You dad, Graham Carr, was the manager of Northampton Town football club. When did you come out to your parents and how did they react?
Well I never really came out. When you talk like this and look like this, you don't really come out. There was never a moment when I sat everyone down at the table and said 'listen everyone, I've got something to tell you.' I think everyone sort of knew.
It wasn't discussed at all?
It wasn't discussed, and me mentioning homosexuality at this stage is a bit like closing the door after the horse has bolted.
When did you know?
Really early. I didn't know I was gay but I knew I was different, but it's not until your teenage years that you begin to make sense of it.
Were you expected to show an interest in sports, coming from such a sporty family?
Yeah, that was very much expected. I talk about it all in the show, but yeah, there was a disappointment when I wasn't gonna become a footballer, but yeah, he got over it. Although I didn't play football I always used to go and support the Cobblers [Northampton Football Club]. I developed an interest through osmosis. Now my dad's at Man City, I'm a bit of a blues fan, so I'm watching Sven. I've not met Nancy yet but we live in hope!
Your parents must be proud of you now, but how did they feel about you pursuing a career in showbusiness?
Well, we're a very close family, and they're one of those great families that really just let me get on with what I wanted to do from the start. I started off doing stand-up, which was like 10 a gig, and sometimes you got your petrol paid for, and then I got to do the warm-up for Jonathan Ross on his chat show. That's when my mum and dad sort of went "Oh, it's taking off," and then when I the Royal Variety Performance they thought, "oh, he's getting a bit good at this," so it just sort of went from there.
What ambitions do you have now?
Well, I'd like to get into a bit of acting, and besides that, just carry on with the stand-up, which I see as my main job. I'd like to do bigger theatres and arenas. Stand-up for me is my job and I'd hate for anyone to think of me just as that guy who does the Friday Night Project. I do my own material and am known on the circuit for it. I'd like for more people to appreciate that rather than just the Friday Night Project.
Do you think your humour will travel?
I think I've got a very English sense of humour. When I did Montreal and Melbourne, they got it, but America... that's a whole different ball game. They take it all so seriously over there.
I can't think of any successful gay comics over there?
Well, they're not allowed to be mainstream. You're right - I can't think of any of the top of my head. I don't really want to go to America, to be honest. I love Britain and I love British humour, and I can go all over the country here and get such a lovely reception. I don't want to spoil it with a load of fat yanks not laughing. And I can never forgive them for what they did to Britney! Leaver her alone... she's been through enough! I hate to say it but I fear something bad might happen to that girl soon.
You must have a wish list of people - like Britney - that you'd like to get on the Friday Night Project?
Oh yeah, we'd love Britney. You could have her having her breakdown on the show. We'd love to have Posh and Becks on too.
Are there any guests that you'd happily not invite back?
Erm.... Avril Lavigne. She was a cow. She refused to sing the last song. She wouldn't come out of her room, and kept the audience waiting 15-20 minutes, and then came out and scowled at us. A bit like Tracey Barlow when she was sent to her room. I mean, she's getting on now - late 20s - so she can't blame it on puberty. I hate her. I wanted to slap her.
How was Kanye West? American hip hop stars are not known for embracing camp comedians?
He was an absolute scream. He was great. He really got it. We'd try to get a rapper for ages, but they generally are a bit homophobic. But how strong does Kanye West come across to not have a problem with it? He was just a really cool guy.
Are you in a relationship in a moment?
I'm not.
Have you been single for long?
Well, the trouble with the gays in the gay world... it's hard. I was sort of seeing someone... oh, I don't know. There's no limits or boundaries any more, you don't really know. I find. I have trouble with relationships anyway.
Has fame made it much easier to pick-up?
No, it's made it worse! Someone will come over and talk to you and you'll think "ooh, I've picked up", and then they'll say "can you do a charity gig for me?", or "can you sign this for my mum who's in a wheelchair?" Well, I don't care if she was high kicking or not, I'll still sign something...
So you never succumb to any wild action whilst on tour?
I really think that's a bit of a myth! I'm with my tour manager at the moment and I can ask him. [To manager] "Have I had even a whiff of cock on this tour?" No, I haven't. When do I get to meet people? I mean, when I went to Port Talbot last week, I was the gay scene.
Do you go out much on the gay scene?
Not really. I'm not really one for the Shadow Lounge or anything like that. It's like being trapped on an Easyjet flight - everyone's face is orange and collapsed from bad plastic surgery. I'm a pub man. I like Vauxhall, or somewhere like the Vauxhall Tavern.
Do you get hassled?
I do, and everyone's got a camera phone now. Not that I'm doing anything particularly dirty or anything, but sometimes you just wanna take your glasses off and pull, but you end up with someone chatting to you about the show, or "can you ring my mum - she's got the same teeth as you". You never get time off. I need a nice celebrity boyfriend, that's what I need.
Have any friends tried to match-make you with anyone?
No, no. I'm quite a private person to be honest. The fame can be a drag in that sense, but it's my own fault and I did it, but it would be nice to occasionally have a bit of anonymity back and do the dating thing.
So you're not going to share with us your gaydar profile?
I don't have a gaydar profile. What would I put on a gaydar profile? I went on myspace and was inundated with people... well, wanting something, but not wanting me! I wanna be loved. Don't we all?

Tooth Fairy DVD Alan's debut DVD, Tooth Fairy, documenting his recent stage show, is released on 12 November. Click on the DVD cover to go to Amazon to purchase.

An abridged version of this interview was published in Out In The City,November 2007 David Hudson

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