Published May 02, 2016When it was announced that Jimmy Carr would perform in Ottawa, ahead of the release of his first Netflix special, no one expected that the British radio and TV host would bring this level of fanfare. Selling out two shows, with additional seats opening up during the weekend, Carr packed close to 1,500 fans into the stylish Algonquin Commons Theatre, located on the grounds of Algonquin College.
With no opening act, Carr used the giant projected screen located at the back of the stage to warm up the crowd, silently flashing text of "ground rules" for the night's shows (including a clever observation about how people never re-watch videos they take on their phones) along with various other observations. Looking sharp in a slimming suit and vest, alongside his smooth West London accent, Carr held a charming and congenial vibe over the audience, even when he got personal about those in attendance or unloaded some of his notoriously controversial material.
Starting the 90-minute set off with a sizable chunk of crowd work, Carr demonstrated his acerbic wit masterfully, remarking about how everyone in the crowd holds nearly the same occupation (IT for the government) and calling out those who showed up late to the gig.
But it was Carr's lightning-fast delivery and refreshing lack of segues that made his act so engrossing, as jokes about sexuality, religion, race and violence reached an uncomfortably funny apex that was often relieved by his innocent, self-reflection and charismatic demeanour (not to mention his clever framework on these taboo subjects). Using the big screen to deliver some visual jokes (via comic strip-type drawings) while undergoing a Herculean amount of crowd work throughout his set, Carr showed the delirious audience just how resourceful, quick, edgy and downright star-making his brand of comedy has become.