Creator / Jasper Carrott
Veteran British stand-up comedian (real name Robert Davis) who has been performing since the 1970s. He is also a folk singer and incorporates this into his act, both conventional comic songs and also Visual Pun
gags such as (strums guitar)
"#Unforgettable..." (trails off with confused, searching look)
He grew up in Acocks Green, Birmingham, alongside a lifelong friend Bev Bevan, who found fame himself with the pop group The Move and its successor the Electric Light Orchestra
. Indeed, at one point Bob Davis might have been a guitarist with the Move, but was edged out of consideration by the more accomplished Roy Wood. This freed him up to go solo as a singer-performer on the folk circuit, luckily for the rest of us. As with Mike Harding
and Billy Connolly
, he discovered the patter in between songs was appreciated more than the songs themselves, and as a result the spoken bits became longer, and the songs got further apart and more offbeat.
His television series have included An Audience with Jasper Carrott
(1978), Carrott's Lib
(1982-83), Carrott Confidential
(1987-89), Canned Carrott
(1990-92), The Jasper Carrott Trial
(1997), Jasper Carrott - Back to the Front
(1999), and 24 Carrott Gold: The Best of Jasper Carrott
, Back to the Front
, and 24 Carrott Gold
simply had Carrott performing standup for half an hour, while Lib
, and Canned
featured a mixture of standup, sketches (sometimes featuring other up-and-coming comics like Mark Arden and Stephen Frost, Chris Barrie, or Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis
), and music, and Trial
featured clips of Carrott's previous series and specials with a framing device of his trial for various "crimes".
His comedy is focused on observational humour and he is particularly adept at weaving a story and carrying the audience along with him. A native of Birmingham and sporting a Brummie accent, some of his earlier routines were about the trials of supporting the not very successful football team, Birmingham City FC. He was also the first and best-remembered host of Commercial Breakdown
, The BBC
's programme about amusing and unusual adverts from overseas (ironically, The BBC
itself doesn't carry advertising, and the ad agencies only agreed to allow their commercials to be shown if the product and slogan were included). He has starred alongside Robert "Jesus Christ" Powell in The Detectives
and Meera Syal and Nina Wadia of Goodness Gracious Me
in the multicultural sitcom All About Me
Although a successful comic, he made his fortune through his production company Celador (supposedly named for what many non-English speakers consider to be the most incongruously beautiful sound in English, 'cellar door') which has seen such prominent successes as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
. He retired from stand-up in 2004 after a series of performances in Birmingham going through his best material of the past, but since then has popped up as the host of the Game Show Golden Balls
. His daughter, Lucy, also broke into acting with the part of Dawn in The Office
Subjective tropes are here
- Actor Allusion: When he mentions working with Robert Powell on The Detectives, he references his title role on Jesus of Nazareth:
"He used to be Jesus Christ
, now I've got him down to my level".
- Actually Pretty Funny: In an episode of his 1983 sketch/stand-up series Carrott's Lib, Carrott included a joke about the flimsy construction of the Citroen 2CV, snarking that if it hit a rabbit, the car would be a write-off, while the rabbit would probably think something was stuck in its ear. An audience member shouted, "Carrots!" Jasper nearly fell off his stool with laughter, and although he finally replied, "Why don't you sod off?", he clearly found the unscripted response funny.
- The Alleged Car:
- Jasper has had several routines over the years about the chronic unreliability of certain models of car, including Ford Cortinas (in Carrott's Lib, he bemoaned Ford's decision to replace the Cortina with the Sierra, as just saying the words "Ford Cortina" was enough to get a laugh out of most audiences) and Citroen 2CVs (according to Jasper, only the French could make a car that looked like an upturned pram... "and sell it to us!").
- 24 Carrott Gold has a routine about an alleged plane on which Jasper flew(?) to Spain:
"And I flew out on this knackered airline, which I can't name, obviously... I walked across the tarmac and the pilot was kicking the tyres! [mimes kicking a tyre on a car] He said, 'Yeah, should get us there.' 'Eh?? Eh?!' They were trying to jump start it from a Vauxhall Viva! [mimes trying to jump start a car engine] I got on the plane, they took the stairs away, and the plane fell over! [leans over on his stool at a 45 degree angle] And they had an air hostess with a sense of humour - that's unique these days, innit? I asked her how long it would take to get there, she said, 'I dunno, we've never made it yet!' So we're going down the runway, [bounces up and down his seat while groaning, then says, while still bouncing] I thought we were never gonna bloody take off! I looked out the window, we're on the M1!note Stopped off at the services for a bottle of Vimto and a Wagon Wheel..."
- Aluminium Christmas Trees: Combined with Newer Than They Think. He had a routine in the early 1990s about Italian food and coffee being Foreign Queasine that now seems bizarre given how both have become so mainstream in the UK.
- Apathetic Citizens: Implied with the people of Northern Ireland about The Troubles when he did a show there, such as a security guard at a hotel the IRA recently bombed telling Carrott "I couldn't do your job, not with all that stress!", or when Carrott asks the event organiser whether it's okay to mention "Semtex" in a joke or it would be bad taste, to which the man is appalled and says "You can't say Semtex!...it's a brand name!"
- Ass Shove: It's implied he did this to a fellow runner in the London Marathon who tried to spend the entire 26 miles playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" on a trombone.
"After about six miles, he hit 'the wall' a lot harder than he expected!"
- Audience Participation: Carrott has always included routines in which he asks the audience if they have ever done something or other as a lead-in to a routine about that something or other. In the early years of his career, when audience interaction was not as common among British stand-up comics, he made a Running Gag out of being frustrated by the underwhelming audience responses to his questions, either by using sarcastic mimicry of their responses or by shouting, "ME ENGLISH!".note
- Bait-and-Switch Comparison: Used as the punchline for a routine mocking astrology, after he comes up with pairs of completely dissimilar celebrities who share the same birthday and would therefore have the same horoscope. He ends on:
- B-Side: By his own admission, "Funky Moped" only charted as a hit single because the B-side had a risqué The Magic Roundabout sketch.
- Bald of Awesome: Carrot, who got the nickname because of thick unruly ginger hair, bowed to the inevitable and went bald.
- Brick Joke: All the time, a big part of his humour—usually mentioning something inconsequential earlier in his routine that comes back as a suddenly relevant punchline at the end. For example, in the episode of Back to the Front where he talks of going to Thailand and Bali with his wife, he describes the Balinese inability to say "no" to any request, even if it's a request they cannot actually carry out. As an example, he pretends to ask for tartar sauce in a restaurant, and gets "Yes" as an answer to whether they can bring him some, and will it take long. Later, he describes seeing a rat in his hotel room, and calling the front desk to send someone up. When they arrive, he asks if they are there about the rat, and is told, "We have your tartar sauce!"
- Burger Fool: The first series of Canned Carrott features a sketch skewering the fast food industry as a crew leader (Steve Punt) instructs a trainee employee named Gary (Hugh Dennis) in the ins and outs of the job. Among the lessons he dispenses: always wear a "paper Thunderbirds hat" and smile (Gary's attempt at the latter makes him look deranged), always ask if the customer wants fries (not chips) with their order (up to and including "Fries with your fries?"), thin milkshakes can be thickened with Polyfilla (spackle to Americans), always ensure that orders shouted to the kitchen are incomprehensibly slurred (otherwise, the kitchen staff will be confused), and ensure that the floor is being mopped constantly - the busier the restaurant, the more seats should be cordoned off for mopping.
- Catching Some Z's: He refers to snoring people as "there they are, zedding away".
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Not the French, but a similar joke; in his routine about he and his mate Derek trying to travel across Europe on a moped in the early Sixties, he mentions that Derek (lacking a crash helmet) was wearing a German Army helmet his dad had brought back from the war, and when they got lost in a town in Belgium "the mayor surrendered to us!"
- Coincidental Broadcast: In a first series sketch from Carrott's Lib, a government minister (Stephen Frost) has gathered his staff to tell them that a series of leaks to the press and radio has been traced to their department. Meanwhile, a radio news broadcaster (Mark Arden) is repeating the content of his speech, almost word for word.
Minister: All right, quiet please, quiet please! Someone turn this radio down, would they? (someone does so) Now listen, ladies and gentlemen. About - these - leaks. We really must do something about the press and radio getting hold of these telegrams and other classified information!
Newsreader: Good evening. Here is the news. A short while ago, the government decided to take action over the recent leakages of telegrams and other classified information to the press and radio.
Minister: (momentarily put off) ... We've already had an investigation, and I'm sorry to have to tell you that it is this department which is believed to be responsible!
Newsreader: After an internal investigation, a ministry department is believed to be responsible.
Minister: (momentarily put off again) ... The evidence we have-
Newsreader: The evidence they have...
Minister: ... which is quite specific...
Newsreader: ... which is quite specific...
Minister: ... proves...
Newsreader: ... proves...
Minister: ... this.
Newsreader: ... this.
Minister: (eyes narrow suspiciously) ... Paintbrush.
Minister: ... Cucumber.
Minister: (makes high-pitched babbling noise with his tongue)
Newsreader: (does likewise)
- The Comically Serious: In The Jasper Carrott Trial, the QC (played by Robert Cordery) is one. When Jasper tries to explain comedy to him with the example of the classic joke about a dog with no nose:
You would cut off a dog's nose, its most sensitive organ, just to get a laugh? Carrott:
...I'd bite its bollocks off
if I thought it'd get a laugh!
- Dead TV Remote Gag: Talks about how people will push harder and harder on the button as though there's more chance of the signal coming out, will walk right up to the TV and hold the remote against the infrared sensor while hammering on the button...when they could just use the controls on the set. This shows up later as a Brick Joke—about how the remote inevitably dies when you're Caught with Your Pants Down watching porn.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: His impression of the Archbishop of Canterbury, stemming from him having a I Coulda Been a Contender! attitude towards the Pope and trying to put a similar fear of God into the Anglican congregation, but also trying to be more liberal, and seesawing between the two:
Carrott (as Archbishop): You will not be allowed to divorce! You will not be allowed to divorce! Are you listening? Well...not more than two or three times, anyway! And there will no more adultery! Definitely no more adultery! Well...not in public! And anyone who does commit adultery in public will have a plague of boils visited upon them! Well...not boils, no...er...dandruff! Yes! Anyone who commits adultery in public will have very bad dandruff! So bad that even Head & Shoulders won't get rid of it!
- Dodgy Toupee: Has a routine about them, and wore one himself as the character "Wiggy" who stars in spoof public information films in Canned Carrott.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Sometimes does this, usually as though explaining it to someone in the front row of the audience who's slow on the uptake.
"What about Nigel Lawson
? He called his daughter Nigella
. If Salman Rushdie
had the same idea..." (Audience laughs, Carrott leans forward as though talking to someone in front row)
"'Salmonella', see? Never mind."
- Double Standard: The subject of one his jokes. If a woman looks over her neighbour's fence and sees a man sun-bathing naked he'll be arrested for indecent exposure, but if a man looks over his neighbour's fence and sees a woman sun-bathing naked he'll be arrested for being a Peeping Tom.
- Also he has a routine about how teenagers and grandparents are exactly the same ("neither of them have got a job, they're both on drugs...") but you treat them differently.
- Another one about male strippers following the success of The Full Monty:
"Men go to see strippers because they're (air quotes) "perverts". Women go to see strippers because "it's a laugh"."
- Driver of a Black Cab: While talking about unexpected people he found running the London Marathon:
"Loads of London cabbies. I didn't know they could walk, never mind run. You could tell 'em easily, they were the ones turning around and going "Ere, 'ow you doing, mate?" It took 'em all ages, 'cause they went via Bristol."
- Europeans Are Kinky: He and his mate Derek believed this in the early Sixties and attempted to get to Sweden on a moped. Failing that, they ended up in Hamburg.
- Excuse Question: Mocked.
"Call in at £60 a minute and answer this question to win a fridge magnet! What is the capital of Britain - is it A, London, or B, 1948?" "Errrrm...I'm gonna phone in twice, make sure I get it!"
- Also Biting-the-Hand Humor, given the foundation of his recent fame and fortune - Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? - is based on exactly this imperative to ring seriously expensive premium rate phone lines just to stand half a chance of being in the show...
- Face Palm: Does the "forehead slap" version in response to stupidity.
- "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: In his 2004 "24 Carrott Gold" show, he mentions how Birmingham City FC have destroyed much of his act by recently improving their performance to the point that they're no longer synonymous with failure.
- Foreign Queasine: His routine about eating at a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong, where the language barrier meant he had to order by pointing at live animals the street-front restaurant had on display. On choosing chicken, the waiter took a chicken out of the cage and disappeared into the kitchen with it. The same thing happened to the fish in the tank, which became his friend's main course. At this point a dog passed in the street.
Whatever you do, don't point at the labrador!
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: There's a routine where Carrott is mistaken for one.
And, er, [Scunthorpe Baths] are obviously running out of groups, and they're looking for new ones to book in, so they must have been reading Melody Maker or something, and they're looking down the, the chart lists in there, and they see "'Funky Moped' - Jasper Carrott". So they phoned this manager of mine up, and said, (loudly into imaginary phone receiver) "Do Jasper Carrott want to play Scunthorpe Baths?" (as manager, looks around bewildered) Well, me manager's not daft, he said, "Erm... they might."
(as promoter visiting the dressing room) "Jasper Carrott?" "Yes?" (furrows brow) "Where's the rest of you?"
- Gretzky Has the Ball: In a panic after being Caught with Your Pants Down by his wife while watching late-night porn and quickly changing the channel:
Wife: What are you watching?
Wife: Who's playing?
Carrott: It's Kilmarnock v. Clydebank, it's the World Cup!
- Happily Married: Jasper and his wife Hazel have been married since 1973 and still going strong.
- Having a Gay Old Time: One of his routines is about the fact that Durex is a brand of condoms in the UK, but a brand of sticky tape in Australia.
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: He has a set in which he fires off endless euphemisms for sex, breasts and penis before concluding with the punchline "and those are the things you can say on television!"
- Ignore the Disability: More "Ignore the Scandal", but he had a routine about Bill Clinton coming to Birmingham for the G8 summit (in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal) with Birmingham Council turning into this. First they put Clinton up at The Swallow Hotel, and then they realise that on the road from the airport to said hotel is a hairdresser's called Monica's...they pay the owner to rename it, only for the new name to be "Cut and Blow"...
- Impersonating an Officer: In one routine he says he did this inadvertantly while filming The Detectives; he was driving down the motorway after filming a scene where Bob is in uniform, and he couldn't understand why everyone was carefully obeying the rules of the road. Once he figured out what was going on, he took full advantage of it, until someone recognised him.
- Instructional Film: His "Wiggy" segments on Canned Carrott are a parody of them.
- Kavorka Man:
- After discussing polls in women's magazines rating the perfect man (which had the top two characteristics as 'good sense of humour' and 'pert bottom'); "So where does Pavarotti fit into this? He pulls women like you can't believe, but he's not exactly a laugh a minute, is he? As for 'pert bottom' it starts at his neck..."
- Compared Kevin Costner and Ken Dodd to the same end.
"Who would your wife prefer; Robin Hood
or Robbin' the tax man."
- Language Fluency Denial: Played a practical joke on British holidaymakers in Spain by pretending to be an incompetent Spanish waiter who understood no English, bodged orders, spilled drinks and generally exasperated people. Hidden cameras would catch the action as the holidaymakers got progressively more annoyed. However, one clued-up Butt Monkey saw through the set-up the very first time Carrott replied with a suspicious ¿Que?
- Last-Second Word Swap: In his Bali routine, talking about his scuba diving lessons and how each trainee is assigned a buddy:
Carrott: So I got paired with this Swedish blonde... (audience oohs) ...bloke, called Erik.
- Literal-Minded: A common source of his jokes.
"They put up this bloke's picture on Crimewatch UK
with a phone number and said 'Have you seen this man?' Well my auntie rang them up and said 'No'."
- Logic Bomb: Reacts like this to his grandmother's comment "Is the oldest man in the world still alive?"
- Luvvies: He claims Robert Powell, who he worked with on The Detectives, is one.
"He's an ac-TOR, you know... (posh accent) 'Oh, oh, what is my motivation for stuffing this ferret down my trousers?' (normal voice) 'It's funny. Get it down!'"
- Masochist's Meal: The "Magmaloo" curry he was introduced to by some Geordies:
- The Midlands: Of course.
- No Indoor Voice: His impression of Ian Paisley.
(When talking about people who name their children after themselves) "Take Ian Paisley. Sorry, `TAAAKE! IYAAAAN! PAAAAAAIRSLEYY!` His full name is Ian Kyle Paisley. He's got two sons, one's called Ian, the other's called... Kyle. Now what does that tell you about him that we didn't already know?
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Defied Trope, then Double Subverted. He says he's not going to do the old cliché jokes about his mother-in-law, and he gets on with her very well. "In fact, I've just bought her a house...in Iran!" (Evil Laugh)
- Ode to Intoxication: On An Audience with Jasper Carrott among others, he performed a parody version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" in which the gifts the "true love" sends to the singer are various alcoholic beverages. By the seventh verse, he is slurring the words and singing at varying speeds, and by the tenth verse, he is sliding off into drunken renditions of "Hey Jude" and "Show Me the Way to Go Home" before finally sobering up with "Twelve Alka-Seltzers".
- Once an Episode: The episodes of his various sketch/standup series tend to follow similar outlines.
- Carrott's Lib aired live, and in the first few episodes of the first series, he would cue the audience to laugh uproariously when the cameras switched on, before declaring, "That's the funniest joke I know!" and then noticing the television audience.
- Carrott Confidential had a running gag in its introductions based around a BBC runner fetching Carrott from his dressing room. For example, in one introduction satirising the buying mania that had hit the property market at the time, the runner knocks on his door and announces, "Mr. Carrott? £36,500!", to which Carrott replies, "Whaaat? I told you, not a penny under £40,000! And the brooms are extra!" He then walks past a long stream of estate agent signs advertising rooms in Television Centre as "For Sale" or "Sold".
- One-Hit Wonder: He had a surprise hit in 1975 with "Funky Moped", which he often references. He says that people were actually buying the single for the B side, which was a rather rude skit about The Magic Roundabout. This led to an awful lot of very confused music execs, who couldn't understand why "Funky Moped" was selling.
- Opposing Sports Team: He presents Manchester United as this.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: A sketch from Carrott's Lib starring Nick Wilton as "Beano Wilson", an up-and-coming comic, has Jasper play the role of Moral Guardian to force him to tone down the racism, sexism, and homophobia in his routine so that a joke about a fur trapper going to a saloon to ask about buying a tart becomes a community welfare officer working with baby seals who have lost their parents going to a cocktail- er, organtail bar to ask about meeting a liberal-minded woman with a view to non-sexist interaction. Jasper then subverts the trope when he laughs and blurts out the unedited punchline.
- Real-Life Relative: In his one-off show The One...Jasper Carrott, his real life daughter (Lucy Davis) plays his character's daughter in a sketch.
- Ridiculously Average Guy: Carrott has a routine about he himself being one.
"I'm so ordinary, it's extraordinary. I'm middle-aged, middle-class, and I live in the Midlands in the middle of England. I drive a middle of the road car down the middle of the road while listening to middle of the road music, usually Bet Midler. And I'm sick of it. I went to the doctor, he said 'ah, you're having a mid-life crisis'. I gave him THE MIDDLE FINGER!"
- Separated by a Common Language: One of his routines is about how "Durex" is a brand of condoms in the UK but a brand of sticky tape in Australia, and "rubber" means condom in the US but eraser in the UK.
(from American Carrott) In England, we call erasers "rubbers". Now, I was unaware of the euphemism of what rubbers are here, you see, I mean I didn't know, did I? So... I walked into an office supply shop! (shakes head) I didn't KNOW! I walked up, I went, "Good morning! Er, can I have a rubber, please?" (as clerk, looks offended) "Are you one of those dickheads!?" "I just want a rubber!" He said, "Try the drugstore!" So I trawled on down to the drugstore and I walked in, there was a woman behind the counter, right - there's always a woman in these situations! I walked up, I said, er, "Good morning, could I have a rubber, please?" (as clerk, looks dumbfounded) "You just want one!?" I said, "Yeah, I don't make that many mistakes!" I said, "Have you got one with a Mickey Mouse on the tip so I can (mimes chewing on the end of a pencil)" She called the police!
- Song Parody: Quite a few of Carrott's songs are parodies of existing songs; for example, the 1979 Fiddler's Dram single "Day Trip to Bangor (Didn't We Have a Lovely Time)" becomes "Day Trip to Blackpool" and subverts the "nice day at the seaside" atmosphere of the original.
Didn't we have a miserable time
The day we went to Blackpool
An 'orrible day, we got drunk on the way
And spent our money on chips and bingo
Hour after hour, we sat in a bar
And we drank a barrel of cider
And on the way back I was sick over Jack
And the rain came down
- Spit Take: The Carrott's Lib sketch mentioned under Political Correctness Gone Mad features an epic spit take from Jasper when "Beano Wilson" uses a racist slur in the unedited version of his joke.
- Supergroup: In The One...Jasper Carrott, he plays with "The Old Farts", including Rick Wakeman of Yes and Bev Bevan of ELO as well as Carrott himself. A Call Back to when, if things had gone differently, he might have become a member of a pop group with respectable success and a few singles but ultimately only a footnote to the 1960's.
- Suspect Is Hatless: Talks about phony psychics who exploit this trope. (To a huge audience) "Is there anybody here called...John?"
- Take That!: Regularly takes a swipe at other comedians when he needs to portray someone as useless, underachieving or just plain expendable. Late comic Bernard Manning, in particular, made more than one 'appearance' in Carrott's acts over the years...
- This Is Gonna Suck: When he ran the London Marathon (having signed up to it while drunk):
"At the front are all the professional runners, and then all the club runners, and then all the people who can run. And I'm at the back
. With all these people dressed as ostriches. I'm wearing a body bag, to save time at the other end."
- Threatening Shark: In his 'holiday in Bali' routine, he got secret scuba diving lessons and attended a session where they feed sharks under water, leading to this trope.
- Visual Pun: Most of his later musical gags are examples of this.
- "#While my guitar gently weeps..." (a hosepipe burst of water spurts out of the guitar and hits him in the face)
- (Jumps off the stage, runs through the audience) "Bear with me, bear with me" (reaches edge of auditorium, strums chord) "#FROM A DISTANCE!"
- The West Midlands: A lot of his routines involve his home city of Birmingham.
- With Lyrics: He does a Crosses the Line Twice song about car sex to the tune of Dvorak's Humoresque.
"Was it you that did the pushin',
Left the stain upon the cushion,
Footprints on my dashboard upside down..."
- Would Hurt a Child: Some of his routines involve him joking about hitting children for being obnoxious smart-arses.
- A routine from Beat the Carrott (1981) about his experience appearing on Saturday Morning Kids Show Tiswas involves being pestered by a particularly obnoxious child and grabbing him by the collar, only to notice he is live on camera, whereupon he gives a plastic smile, announces a cartoon, and then gives the boy what for and tells his parents that he'd had a collision with a TV camera.
- In 24 Carrott Gold (1990), while expressing frustration with how much more tech savvy his children and their friends are than he is, he jokes about giving his son a poke in the eye after he produces a detailed printout explaining why his pocket money should be increased, and giving most of the neighbourhood kids a poke in both eyes after they humiliate him at Space Invaders (except for one kid who lets him win and only gets a poke in one eye).