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Jimmy Carr defends causing offence with near-the-knuckle jokes


Comedian Jimmy Carr

Comedian Jimmy Carr

Comedian Jimmy Carr

Comedian Jimmy Carr has defended causing offence with his near-the-knuckle jokes.

The star, 44, has sparked controversy over the years with a series of controversial quips, and in 2011 apologised after he made an offensive joke about children with Down's syndrome.

He told Radio 4's Desert Island Discs: "You find your audience so they come to see the show. I'm not shouting these jokes through people's letter boxes."

And he added of people who complain: "Just because they're offended doesn't make them right. It's part of reasoned debate. If they're upset by it so be it."

Carr, who when offered the Bible on the fictional desert island, replied: "We could start the fire," added: "You learn early on, never defend a joke. It's a joke. Not a statement."

The comic apologised in 2012 when his involvement in a legal tax avoidance scheme hit the headlines.

"If the Prime Minister of the country that you live in breaks off from the G20 summit in Mexico and makes a press statement on your tax affairs, that is going to need dealing with right now," he said.

"The greatest thing it taught me was, when you have a friend in trouble, call."

Carr has previously revealed that he did not have sex until he was 26.

He told Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young that he was happy to talk on the radio about losing his virginity late, as it could help other young people in the same situation.

"I quite like talking about that because I really remember being a teenager and thinking, I'm not normal, I'm weird," he said.

The Cambridge graduate said that school had not been easy, adding: "I couldn't read until I was 10 or 11 with any level of ability."

He said: "I had been diagnosed as having dyslexia, but I sort of think you get to choose your narrative in life. You can define yourself by things. You can be the kid who had dyslexia or the kid who went to Cambridge."

He left his marketing job to become a stand-up after feeling "miserable" with his life.

"I like talking about being sad. I was sad at that stage," he told the show.

"I think the term depression is overused. People talk about being depressed when they're sad. If it's circumstantial then you're sad.

"There's much more stigma to being sad than depressed. But being depressed is a real thing. It's a chemical imbalance, it's always dismissed as 'just cheer up mate'. If you're just sad you can do something about it."

Carr has previously told how he met his long-term partner when she auditioned him for a panel show, and how the couple still have her unflattering assessment of the up-and-coming comic.

"She literally wrote notes because I was auditioning. I was a one-note comedian with the eyes of a sex offender. She actually wrote that and we've still got it," he said.

:: Jimmy Carr is on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.

PA Media