Crude-miester, tax evader, face of Channel 4 panel shows, petrol head and all round one-line spewer, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from a full stand-up performance from Carr (having only seen the TV appearances). Although it is fair to say we expected a few words we wouldn’t say in polite company, naturally. (Expected and delivered. Copiously)

Would it be non-stop one-liners we wondered? Could this continue for two hours or will a little observational fodder be thrown in for good measure? As novice JC live audience members we were intrigued, excited and intoxicated by the hoards piling in to the spectacular domed auditorium of Sheffield City Hall.

Then the lights dimmed and a cinema style screen perched on stage changed from the Gagging Order promo shot to a very apt narrative. We all read the text auto-cued on the screen in giggly anticipation and dutifully laughed as every line dripped with that Jimmy wit. One memorable line in the ‘welcoming’ text was ‘we have your money that’s all that matters’.

Then text then faded and was replaced with a very apt 5 stroke countdown and then… he was there! Bursting on stage to a raucous applause and stirring up the laughter immediately. The one-liners were sharp, clever and kept the laughter constantly rolling in a way not many other stand-ups can achieve.

At a recent Russell Howard gig, the content was great and fuelled by Russell’s energetic personality bounding around the stage, but as more of a ‘story-teller’ the laughs were slightly more sparing as the audience geared up for the next great joke. With Jimmy Carr there was no such build up, but the punch lines still made for a powerful crescendo.

Alongside a generous smattering of one liners and a little observational gold, Jimmy also interacted with the audience, a common stand-up comic’s arsenal that all comedy fans will know, unearths the audience types we don’t really want representing us. But aside from the crude and the tales they should really keep to themselves, we respected their bravery and got a few laughs from the interactive element.

The heckles were also beautifully sparred. A word of warning to any JC hecklers – his wit and razor sharp comebacks have got him where he is – proceed with caution! One of the best (and cleanest) was directed during a little Top Gear name drop:

Heckler: ‘You were rubbish! [on Top Gear]”

Jimmy: “Oh? How did you do?”

That’s the thing with Jimmy Carr, unlike the uber successful comics prattling about the cost of mushrooms in Morrison’s or how the Fiesta’s packed in – Jimmy accepts the wealthy TV personality tarnish fairly well and consequently refers to his tax ‘mishap’ and the fact he can be a bit of a plonker openly. Which is quite nice.

Of course as stage lighting experts we did take a little professional inspiration between wiping tears of laughter from our eyes and noted a simple but effective set up. As the theatre was equipped with a grand domed chandelier, stage lighting was less of a requirement during the interval and seating period but during the show spots were fully utilised.

Using strategically spaced spots on curved bars the stage was lit from the front by a cluster of spots located at the back of the auditorium while back-up spots kicked in from the sides. During the interval LED lighting lacing the back of the stalls came into its own to help the audience leave their seats too – this proved to be a simple and effective method of ‘lights up’.

But back to the giggles – A little animation was utilised during the first half of the show as Jimmy took us through his one-liners and illustrated the plain filthy imagery (we’re sure you can imagine) through cartoon caricatures on screen. This had the appeal of a particularly ‘over 18s’ animated comic strip and certainly gave the performance a little variety. The ‘variety’ from the second half of the show was a little more disappointing however.

As we took our seats at the start of the show we noticed that the stage held a sofa, this was intriguing. Surely Jimmy won’t stretch to a sketch? The precedence was that Jimmy was ‘piloting’ a new sitcom for Channel 4 and required some ‘actors’ from the audience to play the characters.

Plucked from the audience was a new graduate (cue Jimmy making unemployed references) and an accountant (the irony wasn’t lost) who were then required to read a ‘scene’ from a script.

This was markedly the least enjoyable part of the show – Jimmy was fantastic and we would have happily filled our boots will 15 minutes of one-liners over a clumsy audience performance. But that’s just our humble opinion.

As close-to-the-bone comedy seems to be very much sinking miserably or soaring successfully, we weren’t quite sure how lewd, rude and crude Jimmy would actually be. We’re therefore pretty thrilled to announce that Gagging Order successfully brought the shock factor whilst showing us a side of Jimmy securely hidden away on those brief TV appearances.

Put it this way, there’s lots we’d like to tell you. We’d like to reveal the stunning one-liners and the political correctness car crashes that make us squirm. Alas, we’re keeping it ‘U’ so we urge you comedy buffs to see it for yourselves. The show runs until the end of November and by then we can only imagine it’ll be tweaked to perfection…

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