After becoming established as a stand-up comedian, Carr began to appear in a number of Channel 4 television shows, becoming the host of the panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats and also The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, a comedy panel show that airs each December to review the past year.
Carr was born in Isleworth, London to Irish parents from Limerick: Patrick James Carr (born 1945), an accountant who became the treasurer for computer company Unisys, and Nora Mary (née Lawlor; 19 September 1943 – 7 September 2001). He is the middle of three brothers. His parents married in 1970 and separated in 1994 but never divorced.
Carr spent most of his early life in south Buckinghamshire, where he attended Farnham Common School and Burnham Grammar School, then completed sixth form at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe. The family remained in contact with its Irish roots and made frequent trips to Limerick, and Kilkee, County Clare. Carr holds both British and Irish citizenship and is a self-described plastic Paddy.
After earning four 'A' grades at the GCE Advanced Level exams, Carr read political science at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He graduated with a 2:1 in 1994. He went on to work in the marketing department at Shell, before he was made redundant in January 2000. He performed his first paid stand-up gig later that month, having only done his first unpaid pub show the previous month.
Carr has hosted Channel 4 game shows Distraction and Your Face or Mine?. He presented the 100s series of programmes for Channel 4: 100 Worst Pop Records, 100 Worst Britons, 100 Greatest Cartoon Characters, 100 People Who Look Most Like Jimmy Carr (a spoof) and 100 Scary Moments.
From 2004 until 2006, Carr hosted a United States version of Distraction for Comedy Central. He was also nominated for the 2006 Rose d'Or award for "Best Game Show Host". Carr presents The Big Fat Quiz of the Year on Channel 4 each December. He has also presented special episodes known as The Big Fat Quiz of Everything.
Since 2005, Carr has presented the comedy panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats. The show aired on Channel 4 until 2016 when it moved to More4. Since 2012, Carr has also presented 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, a combination of his panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats and daytime quiz show Countdown.
In April 2010, Carr hosted the first British version of a comedy roast show, Channel 4's A Comedy Roast. On 6 May 2010, he was a co-host of Channel 4's Alternative Election Night, along with David Mitchell, Lauren Laverne, and Charlie Brooker. He joined the three presenters again for 10 O'Clock Live, a Channel 4 comedy current affairs show, which started airing in January 2011.
In 2014 and 2015, Carr guest presented two episodes of Sunday Night at the Palladium on ITV.
Carr was a guest presenter for one edition of Have I Got News for You; later he joined Ian Hislop's team in the edition of the show first shown 30 November 2007, chaired by Ann Widdecombe with whom he "flirted" outrageously. Widdecombe later stated, "I don't think I shall return to this programme." Carr has appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks twice. He has appeared on at least one episode per season of A League of Their Own and QI. During a guest appearance on the BBC motoring show Top Gear, Carr set a new celebrity test track lap record on the 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car' segment. He was described as "the worst driver we've ever had" and "the luckiest man alive" by Top Gear's test driver the Stig.
Carr hosted a highlights edition of the show, and on the Top Gear Live World Tour of 2009–2010 he hosted the section 'Carmageddon' in which the Stig successfully attempted a 'gear change'. In the US, he has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien twice and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno three times. Carr appeared on the Irish news comedy show The Panel. In 2003, Carr was in the music video for the song "Proper Crimbo". Carr appears at the end credits of Ross Noble's Randomist DVD, where he punched Noble on his way back to the dressing room. Noble had joked in his show that Carr performed for only a "weak" 1 hour 20 minutes, as opposed to Noble's 2 and a half-hour show.
A 15ft-tall replica of Carr's head was used in an advertising campaign for Walkers Crisps and has subsequently appeared in various publications. In July 2013, ITV News and BBC Cumbria reported that Skiddle were transporting the replica from Preston to the Wickerman Festival. He has also appeared as a contestant on celebrity editions of The Chase and Tipping Point. His chosen charity on the show was Blue Cross.
In 2012, Carr was a celebrity guest on Channel 4's The Last Leg. Carr wrote and starred in a sketch for the 25th anniversary special of Comic Relief in 2013. He also appeared in BBC's Top Gear in June 2013.
In October 2014, Carr appeared in a comedy sketch for Channel 4's The Feeling Nuts Comedy Night raising awareness of testicular cancer. In the sketch he lures model Daisy Lowe to a hotel suite to check his testicles. The sketch also featured Jamie Cullum, Lance Armstrong and Rylan Clark-Neal.
Carr is a regular guest and interviewer on Loose Ends (BBC Radio 4) and The Fred MacAulay Show (BBC Radio Scotland). In January 2005, Carr hosted 'It's Been a Terrible Year' — a comedy review of 2004, on BBC Radio 2. Up until July 2006, he had a Sunday morning radio show on Xfm, with the mercurial comedian Iain Morris. Features of the show have included:Goth Classics — Item lasting about four weeks in which the Sisters of Mercy track "This Corrosion" was played twice.Now That's What I Call A Jukebox – Long running item invented by Iain Morris where a number of songs are selected from a Now That's What I Call Music album, and are put to a vote. The song with the most votes is played.The Songs You Should Like and the Songs You Do Like (But You Like The Song You Should Like As Well) — This item consists of playing in sequence one artistically respectable but underrated or overlooked song (The first was 'Touch Sensitive' by the Fall) and one guilty pleasure (Liberty X's "Just a Little" followed) On 9 July 2006, the item was renamed "A Song to Patronise, A Song To Sanitise".
In January 2006, Carr made a joke on Radio 4's Loose Ends, the punchline of which implied that Gypsy women smelled. Although the BBC issued an apology, Carr refused to apologise and continued to use the joke. He appeared in two episodes of the radio series of Flight of the Conchords in 2005.
Carr performs stand-up tours continuously over the course of the year, taking only five weeks off between them. In 2003 he sold out an entire month's performances of his Edinburgh Festival show Charm Offensive by the second day of the festival, and received 5-star reviews from four major newspapers. In 2004 he performed sold out solo shows at Dublin's Vicar Street, Leicester's Comedy Festival, Glasgow Festival, Kilkenny Cat Laughs and the Galway Festival along with appearances at the Bloomsbury Theatre where he filmed his first live DVD.
Also in 2004 he threatened to sue fellow comedian Jim Davidson for using a joke that Carr considered 'his'. The matter was dropped when it became apparent that the joke in question was an old one used for decades by many different comedians. He toured the country with his show, A Public Display of Affection, starting on 9 April 2005 at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury and ending on 14 January 2006 at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End. He also appeared at the EICC during the Edinburgh Festival in August 2005 with his Off The Telly show. Later on in the year, in late November, he released his second DVD "Jimmy Carr: Stand Up".
In August 2006, he commenced the tour Gag Reflex, for which he won the 2006 British Comedy Award for "Best Live Stand up". He released his third DVD, Jimmy Carr: Comedian in November 2007. He also performed at the 2006 Just for Laughs festival in Montreal, as well as making a return visit to the Newbury Comedy Festival. In 2003, he was listed in the Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2007, a poll on the Channel 4 website for 100 Greatest Stand Ups, Jimmy Carr was the 12th. A new national tour commenced in autumn 2007 named Repeat Offender, which began at the Edinburgh Festival that year. In late 2008, Carr began touring his the latest show, entitled Joke Technician.
On 23 April 2009, the dates for Carr's 2009–10 tour, entitled Rapier Wit, were announced. The tour opened on 20 August 2009 with 9 shows at the Edinburgh Festival before touring the country. On Twitter, he released details about his new DVD entitled Jimmy Carr: Telling Jokes, which was released on 2 November 2009. Also in July 2009, Carr toured with Las Vegas band the Killers.
In October 2009, Carr received criticism from several Sunday tabloid newspapers for a joke he made about British soldiers who had lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that the UK would have a strong team in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Carr defended his own joke as "totally acceptable" in an interview with The Guardian.
Carr's sixth Live DVD, Jimmy Carr: Making People Laugh, was released on 8 November 2010. Carr's 2010–11 tour, entitled Laughter Therapy, was announced on 8 April 2010. The tour started with a run at the Edinburgh Festival before touring the country.
Carr also appeared at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal in July 2011. At which he performed his 2010/11 tour show 'Laughter Therapy'. Carr's latest stand up DVD was released on 18 November 2013 with the title of Jimmy Carr: Laughing and Joking.
On 21 December 2006, Carr announced plans to become the first major comedian to perform in the virtual reality world of Second Life. This was confirmed on his MySpace webpage on 3 January 2007, and a competition launched to choose a select audience from the list of his MySpace friends. Carr's Second Life show took place on 3 February 2007 at 7:00pm (19:00), at Adam Street Bar and Members' Club in Central London.
In 2006, Carr published a book titled The Naked Jape: Uncovering the Hidden World of Jokes on the history and theory of joke-telling.
In June 2012, Carr's involvement in an alleged K2 tax avoidance scheme came to light after an investigation by The Times newspaper. The scheme is understood to involve UK earners "quitting" their job and signing new employment contracts with offshore shell companies based in the low tax jurisdiction of Jersey. Then-Prime Minister David Cameron commented on the issue: "People work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of his shows. They buy the tickets. He is taking the money from those tickets and he, as far as I can see, is putting all of that into some very dodgy tax avoiding schemes." Carr has since pulled out of the scheme, apologising for "a terrible error of judgement".
Viewing figures of the episode of his topical show 8 out of 10 Cats, recorded on the day of his apology and broadcast the following day, almost doubled compared with the previous week. Earlier in 2012, Carr had lampooned people who avoid paying their taxes during the second series of Channel 4's satirical news programme 10 O'Clock Live. A sketch from the show, in which he poked fun at the 1% tax rate of Barclays Bank and described tax lawyers as being "aggressive" and "amoral", was regarded as having "come back to haunt him".
At age 26, he had what he calls "an early midlife crisis", during which he lost his Catholic faith. He has since made comments critical of organised religion. Carr has stated that he underwent a lot of psychotherapy (specifically neuro-linguistic programming) at the time of his crisis in order to help him cope with his loss of faith, and that he has qualified as a therapist. Carr's mother died in 2001.
Carr lives in north London with his Canadian-born girlfriend, Karoline Copping, a commissioning editor for Channel 5, whom he has been with since 2001.
After becoming a widower, Jimmy's father Patrick remarried in 2003. In March 2004, Patrick was arrested by the Metropolitan Police after Jimmy and his brother Colin accused their father of harassment. Patrick was later acquitted of all charges and awarded costs by the Court. His acquittal was followed by a written apology from the CPS. Later, the Metropolitan Police apologised and paid him substantial damages in an out-of-court settlement for the arrest and prosecution.LAFTA Awards 2008: Best Stand UpLAFTA Awards 2007: Funniest ManBritish Comedy Awards 2006 – Best Live Stand UpRose D'Or Nomination 2006: Best Game Show, 'Distraction'LAFTA Awards 2005: Funniest ManRose D'Or Nomination 2004: Best Presenter, 'Distraction'Loaded Lafta Award 2004 – Best Stand UpRoyal Television Society Award Winner: Best On-Screen Newcomer 2003Perrier Award Nominee: 2002Time Out Award Winner: Best Stand Up 2002FilmTelevisionGuest appearances