Published May 20, 2016Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.
Jimmy Carr's Funny Business is a world of ribaldry suitable for only the strongest of stomachs. It's crude, nasty, mean and one of the funniest standup specials of the year so far.
Funny Business incorporates every nearly every aspect of Carr's career as a standup comedian and TV personality. His excellent crowd work — in which he often opens up the floor to hecklers — his work as a panellist and host for shows like The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, and his years as a travelling standup comedian all come into play.
When it comes to blue comedy and gross indecency, it's hard to compare anyone with Jimmy Carr. At face value, Carr is comedy gold, resembling something between a Lego man and a Ken doll, sporting the stereotypical accent of someone far too posh for the filth they espouse. His entire act is a barrage of offense and bad taste delivered with the tenacity and attention to detail of a criminally dedicated shock comic.
Funny Business is certainly not for everyone. The breadth of taboo topics Carr is willing to desecrate is alarming. Anyone with half a heart won't necessarily get through the whole thing with their sensibilities unscathed. Some of these jokes are awful in the truest sense of the word. However, if it's shock, horror and a vague feeling of disappointment in yourself for laughing — and laugh you will — there are few comics better.
Jimmy Carr crosses a line with every joke, most of them being rather short one-liners. He doesn't mince words, crafting each joke with the careful deliberation of a haiku. When a comedian tells jokes this offensive, one would like to think that the comedian is in on their own jokes — rather than telling them for the sake of "don't tread on me" politics or telling offensive jokes simply due to a lack of empathy or conscience. There is almost no chance Carr's abhorrent sense of humour could be as well-honed as it is if he didn't know what he was doing, if he didn't know exactly how cringe-worthy his humour is. It's shock humour without the pretentious, freedom of speech self-preening that often accompanies shock comics.
Jimmy Carr is quite possibly the best in the biz at crossing the proverbial line and taking the audience with him, but he doesn't make it easy. Even hardened comedy fans may find the odd joke a bit too much to bear, but that's where the real fun lies. As solid a comedic writer and performer as he is, the tension lies not necessarily in his impeccable delivery but in the uncertainty of how far he'll go. His comedy does not come across as mean-spirited or even necessarily political — though it will almost certainly seem that way to some viewers — but the horrifying lengths to which he will go to get a cringe and a laugh are endless. Proceed with caution.