Comedian Adam Carolla arrived in London yesterday for a one off live recording of his record-breaking podcast. Any concerns he and his team might have had about his chances of success were swiftly put to rest when he took to the stage in front of a sellout audience of admiring British fans and a handful of soon-to-be converts.
Retaining his trademark equal-opportunity-offender style ‘Adam Carolla Show‘ subscribers would expect, he made sure his comedy references made sense to the British audience before him. This was no mean feat given the near two and a half hour show was recorded soon after he landed at Heathrow Airport.
“God bless England,” he opened in his sandpaper-voiced drawl, “Where an adult gets to be a fucking adult.”
He explained that in California everyone gets to raise their own “freak flag”, but they better not dare drink alcohol from a glass on the street outside a bar whilst enjoying a cigarette. Or as he put it, attempting to adopt the London vernacular, “blowing a fag” having first asked a friend if he could “bum one of their fags”.
In the first part of the show Carolla appeared alone and took audience questions, one of which revealed his admiration for Jeremy Clarkson, a fellow car enthusiast. He knew all about ‘Top Gear’, having presented the American version itself, and the fate of the BBC version after the host punched a colleague during a row over some steak.
“Guys punching guys is how we beat the Nazis,” he explained, “and it’s a great learning experience for the guy who gets punched. You learn not to say that again.”
He also riffed on those things Britain has given America that he likes – Graham Parker, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and the TR6 car – and those which he hates, which include Duran Duran, the Spice Girls and the TR8.
He singled out David Beckham for criticism, correctly pointing out that his twilight days in Los Angeles were not exactly stellar:
“He just got paid $75 million a goal, got tattooed and went home to bang his waif wife.”
Stronger criticism was reserved for Britain’s worst export, Piers Morgan, a bad deal for America.
“The Louisiana Purchase was a better deal for the French, Manhattan was a better deal for the Indians, you dropped this ball of shit on us?”
An unusual moment for a British comedy audience was when we heard the stand up describe Britain’s first female Prime Minister in positive terms, an extremely rare occurrence. It was not a long description, he merely pointed out “Donald Trump and your late, great Margaret Thatcher have the same hair.”
After the show I got the opportunity to meet briefly with Carolla, and his co-star for later sections of the show, the British/American comedian Rich Hall.
“Andrew Breitbart? Nice guy,” said Adam as he welcomed me to the dressing room. It’s good to remember an interview is not always hostile. The two of them spent time together before Andrew’s untimely death in 2012.
I asked if Adam thought his style of comedy is easier to sell in America, whether the politically correct comedians aired by the BBC find they can “take the brakes off” when they appear with him in America (as Russell Howard appeared to do when he was actually funny on the podcast a few weeks ago).
“I can’t imagine it being so,” he replied, pointing out that even established big-name comedians like Jerry Seinfeld now say they feel stifled by a politically correct culture in America, something he bemoans. He continued:
“It’s comedy. The person presenting it is a comedian. He’s not a politician, not a schoolteacher… I don’t know why we want to stifle comedians.
“Comedians only tell the truth as they observe it. You’re supposed to make jokes about tragedy.”
Rich Hall agreed with Adam here, recognising that different media require different approaches. Rich gave the example of Gilbert Gottfried’s misstep explaining:
“Everyone who comes to see you has a sense of humour, but on Twitter nobody has a fucking sense of humour.”
Adam agreed, also citing the reaction to Nicole Arbour’s ‘fat-shaming’ video Breitbart’s Big Hollywood reported this week.
The last word went to Adam, as long-term listeners would expect:
“Shutting down comedians is insane, do we really want to live in that world?”
You can download Adam Carolla’s podcast here