Jimmy Carr working on "The Rosetta Stone Of Comedy" course and book

ExclusiveTuesday 16th April 2024, 5:15pm by Jay Richardson

Jimmy Carr: Natural Born Killer. Jimmy Carr
  • Jimmy Carr wants to teach the "language" of joke writing with a new online course and book
  • Co-developed with his director Amanda Baker and writer Abi Grant, The Rosetta Stone Of Comedy course is set to launch this year, with an accompanying book to follow
  • "I think there's too much mysticism about writing jokes" Carr has said. "The idea that it can't be taught is to me so incredibly limiting. The idea that comedy can't be taught is like going, well music can't be taught"

Jimmy Carr is seeking to teach stand-up in a new book and online course on the "language" of comedy, British Comedy Guide can exclusively reveal.

The comic, who releases his fourth Netflix special today, Natural Born Killer, and begins his 251-date Laugh Funny tour in the US tomorrow, is set to record the course, provisionally titled The Rosetta Stone Of Comedy this year, with a book release to follow, though BCG understands that a publisher has yet to be set.

Aimed at existing comedians who are seeking to improve, the course has been developed with his live director Amanda Baker and comedy writer Abi Grant (Alas Smith & Jones, Have I Got News For You) to focus on four areas, top 50 joke types and their components; timing; routine structure and live stage performance. Discovered in 1799, the Rosetta Stone slab was key for the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Baker, who edited Carr's 2022 book, Before & Laughter: The Hilarious Guide To Changing Your Life, and Grant have been teaching aspects of the course "under the radar" at clubs in London over the last year and continue to do so. The pair are hosting a four-week course at Top Secret Comedy Club in the capital from May 1st.

"I'm working on a book, kind of an instruction manual" Carr told Chris Evans on his Virgin Radio show this morning. "The first thing is to understand how jokes work. And the structure, all jokes are the same, right? All jokes are the sudden revelation of a previously concealed fact ... It's pattern recognition, which is what kind of gives humanity the edge over everything else ... I think comedy is genuinely important to our evolution. But we noticed difference. It's linguistic expertise. It's the ability to kind of vocalise and to communicate something with nuance, stress."

In October, Carr, who is dyslexic, elaborated to the Modern Wisdom podcast that he is "trying to write a language for comedy. I'm trying to write a comedy course, a book.

"I think there's too much mysticism about writing jokes. I think even professionals, even some of the GOATs, they kind of write it on stage and they embody a part of their persona on stage and they can conjure up these funny things and there's alchemy.

"Yeah, maybe, but actually you can break it down. You can break down what you're doing there and it can be taught. The idea that it can't be taught is to me so incredibly limiting. The idea that comedy can't be taught is like going, well music can't be taught."

He added: "I've had a really great run in comedy and what am I leaving for posterity? Some dick jokes, right? ... I want to leave something behind to the community because it's done an awful lot for me. So I'm working on this thing and hopefully it'll become something for other comedians."

Elsewhere in the interview, he suggested that "comedy should be taught ... I think music's incredibly important but I think stand-up should be taught in schools.

"Think about it. It's about verbal dexterity and it's about being able to express yourself and it's about finding your voice and expressing who you are and it's a perspective on life where you're seeing the lighter side and trying to find the fun in something."

Jimmy Carr: Natural Born Killer. Jimmy Carr

Carr previewed his latest stand-up release on X, formerly known as Twitter, yesterday, writing: "In advance of the release of my new @NetflixIsAJoke Special: 'Jimmy Carr: Natural Born Killer'. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to (insert aggrieved party name here). Your feelings were hurt / sense of propriety was outraged / you were offended (delete as appropriate). I'm sorry you feel that way. (Add sincerity to taste) Jimmy Carr."

And speaking to Kathy Burke on her Where There's A Will There's A Wake podcast today, he revealed that he would like his funeral to be a roast at London's O2 arena, conducted by "roastmaster" US comic Jeff Ross, to be broadcast on Channel 4 and Netflix.

He has also reflected upon how a childhood battle with meningitis led him to make his mother laugh for the first time, after he contracted the disease when he was three-years-old.

"'You've got to be cruel to be kind'" he recalled. "I think that is the first thing I ever said that my mother thought was funny.

"I had meningitis when I was a child" he explained. "So my first memory is a lumbar puncture in Limerick in the General [Hospital], and they had to do a lumbar puncture.

"And I was three, I think, and... I was always told it was very close to death. And the doctor sort of went, 'It's going to be very painful'. And somehow I'd heard the phrase, and I went, 'You've got to be cruel to be kind', in a little child's voice.

"And I kind of appreciated that thing of life, because I was always told, 'Oh, you nearly didn't make it'."

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