Arts / Chatty Alan and the art of yap, yap, yap

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"Chatty Man", comedian Alan Carr… "I offer them a blue or a green drink and some disgusting nibbles and they’re gagging to tell all."
“Chatty Man”, comedian Alan Carr… “I offer them a blue or a green drink and some disgusting nibbles and they’re gagging to tell all.”

THE “Chatty Man”, British comedian Alan Carr, is coming to town and he’s happy to chat about his stand up show “Yap, Yap, Yap!” until the cows come home.

I asked Carr by phone to London, where he was sitting on his settee watching reality TV, whether he’d always been a gasbag.

“Gasbag?” he replied, “Yes, I do like to gossip and have done since I was young, but when we say childhood what do we mean? I suppose it means being between three to 16…between ages three and nine I was annoying and a bit ‘la-la’ and then puberty set in and I became normal, then when I hit 16, I became ‘la-la’ again.” Yap, yap, yap.

Raised in Northampton and with a degree in drama from Middlesex University, Carr tells “CityNews” he’d initially thought of himself as becoming an “action man”.

“But that was never going to be as I didn’t have the range and I never got any parts… I ended up dressed in a black bodystocking moving furniture around on the stage.

“But when I was at drama school there was one module in which you got to write a comedy act and went to the local pub to perform it.

“When I did, everyone was raving on saying: ‘Alan you should do this professionally’.” More yap, yap, yap.
Fearful that he “might end up having to work at McDonald’s”, he headed for the bright lights of Manchester, home to comedy, surviving by working in a call centre, until fate intervened.

“The local pub was hosting a comedy night and my friend Sarah put my name up and I got to the semis and the finals, but I didn’t win because I forgot all the jokes, I got so nervous, but now here I am talking and making jokes all the time.”

Carr went on to win BBC New Comedy Award for Stand Up as well as City Life Best Newcomer of the Year in 2001, the Telegraph’s Critic’s Choice Edinburgh Festival in 2005, a stint with Comic Relief on BBC One in 2008 and most notably, his own television series “Alan Carr: Chatty Man” in 2009 with Channel 4.

Praised for his “pitch-perfect comic timing,” he’s interviewed everyone from Kanye West to Ivana Trump, usually offering them revoltingly coloured cocktails while engaging in a bit of extempore yap, yap, yap.

Not quite extempore. For comedy needs careful preparation.

“It takes me forever to write a comedy show,” he confesses.

He loves doing stage shows. Intimacy is a factor.

“I think when you can see the whites of their eyes it’s an intimate experience,” he says. “You can take a chance.”

“One of the problems with TV is that they give you a list of things you can and can’t talk about, so I like going on stage with the mike, I find it so pure and if they don’t laugh, it’s your fault.”

TV shows can have that intimate quality, too.

He often breaks the rules. “I think: ‘Why not just get it out in the open?’… so I offer them a blue or a green drink and some disgusting nibbles and they’re gagging to tell all,” he says.

“In big arena shows it’s different. Playing to 12,000 people talking about partners and family, you can’t very well take the risk of trying a new joke in front of an audience like that.”

He’s pretty sure the show touring to Australia and NZ, where he has many fans, will be successful. He’s done it about 260 times in the UK  and Ireland, and even played in Scandinavia.

“I’m freshening it up, but it’s a lot of yap, yap, yap as usual,” he says. “I write about my life and I hope they love it.”

“Yap, Yap, Yap!” Canberra Theatre, Monday, August 22. Bookings to or 6275 2700.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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