We are sitting in a private members’ club in London with Jimmy Carr when he is handed a phone. It’s Elton John. He wants to know if the comic fancies coming to see his new Vegas show. It’s unlikely Carr will have time for the trip. Having just finished a nationwide tour and begun work on another one, he’s about to release his seventh live DVD. Which makes our first question easy...
Are you a workaholic?
I probably come across as one because if I were doing a normal job, I’d be working too hard. But it’s just telling jokes. It’s basically a night out. And I’m the centre of attention.
Is it easy to switch off your sardonic onstage persona?
I’ll tell you what’s difficult: panel shows. If you do A League Of Their Own and a couple of 8 Out Of 10 Cats in a week, you find when you’re at the cornershop buying a paper you zing the guy behind the counter — being almost quite rude. It’s like joke Tourettes. It’s difficult to turn it off, but making light of everything can also be a lovely thing.
Are panel shows competitive?
Remember at a wedding when you moved from the kids’ table to the grown-ups’ table for the first time? That’s what QI is like. You’re just thinking, “Better not make any kn*b jokes.”
Do you still play tennis with Jonathan Ross?
Yeah, he’s got quite a good serve and when he returns it he whips it really hard. I’ve played Elton before, too. That guy plays every day, but the difference between how good you think Elton is going to be and how good he actually is is huge. He is seriously f*cking good.
What’s your tactic, then? Chip and charge?
I’m a chipper, yes. I try to make Jonathan run and give him a heart attack — because I would like a chatshow, and he’s got to go. We once played a match for Comic Relief where we were paired with Greg Rusedski and Pat Cash. I have to pinch myself at times. I know this is weird, but sometimes I think that I was in a car crash and I’m now in a coma with a TV on in the room with my mind thinking that I’m in those shows.
Ricky Gervais was recently criticised for refusing to apologise for a joke. Where do you stand on that?
I would describe it as being his turn this year. It was my go two years ago, and it was Frankie Boyle’s last year.
Do you still think boundaries are there to be pushed?
I don’t think boundaries are there to be pushed, I just think that’s his sense of humour. People have the right to be offended. But then, he’s also a pretty easy guy to avoid if you don’t like what he’s saying. It’s not mandatory to follow him on Twitter.
So you’ve never felt guilty about telling a joke?
No. I wrote it, I rehearsed it and then I said it. Some thought has gone into that. You don’t say things by accident as a comedian — you’ve got to stand by what you say.
Do you still get nervous?
Jesus, yeah. Some days it’s terrifying. Especially when you’re doing live TV shows or trying out new material. For next year’s tour I’ve got to put together 300 one-liners that will work every night, for every audience around the country.
You didn’t lose your virginity until you were 26. How much of that was choice?
A little choice, a little Catholic guilt. I like that this is getting mentioned because someone reading this might believe what they see on Skins and Hollyoaks, and think that everyone’s having threesomes when they’re 15. The Inbetweeners is much closer to the truth — growing up tends to be weird and awkward.
How did it feel supporting The Killers at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2009?
It was great to be asked, but I went down badly. The band wanted it to feel like an old-fashioned Vegas show by having a comic on first, which was fine with British fans, but the 450 Spanish and Italian girls camped at the front weren’t so keen. They just chanted “Brandon, Brandon” continually.
Any wild tour stories?
As wild as you’d expect when you’re out with a Mormon, but Brandon is still great fun. My craziest night out was in LA with The Mighty Boosh. That was brutal and virtually nothing I can remember I would want to see printed. All I can say is that I had to go on antibiotics after [laughs].
And there’s your infamous laugh…
It’s a honk. My laugh has its own Facebook page.
Being Funny is released on DVD on 21 November
(Image: Rex Features)