Jasper Carrott – Driven to Distraction: Audience Prompts
These prompts apply only to the live audience. Jasper Carrott employs a number of these with various results. The main ones he uses, some of which have been mentioned earlier, are pauses, key words or phrases and by starting the laughter himself. These may be used in conjunction with each other. A classic example is:
(B,3-5) "I’ve got a marvellous mother-in-law, let’s get that fact. Marvellous (J..) (J.H) and she’s a test pilot in a broom factory (J3) erm (9)."
(C,4-6) "I have a terrific mother-in-law as well (.) Fabulous person (.) and I’ve just bought her a house (J.1) in Iran (J.1) (J*7)."
The above lines both appear early on in the sketches and use a number of prompts at different levels. First, with a smile in his voice, he says how great his mother-in-law is, and he builds this up with a further compliment. These can be considered as his key phrases. then, after a short pauses – a subtle prompt – he adds a contradicting comment, which is the punch-line. Finally, to emphasize the jest, he prompts their laughter by laughing himself first.
It is extremely difficult to tell when – if at all – any prompts failed in the ‘Beat the Carrott’ show, recorded in 1981. However, (besides the psychopath one pointed out at the end of the post on his Pauses), one other example appears in the 1975 transcript, with a noticeable disruptive effect.
(B,27-31) "(6) She’s looked into the rear-view mirror, it’s safe to pull out (.) Brum, y’know (.) Ten tonne lorry y’know <1> (.H) and er. (.) I was sitting there an’ we we were I mean she she sort of she’s a immaculate way of missing parked cars by about (J..)(.H) a millimetre, y’know (4)."
What appears to have happened, judging from the tone of his voice, is he is so pleased with the six second burst of laughter he has reformulated his sentence for further laughter. Despite three pauses, use of key words ("Brum, y’know") and the sound effects in the form of the lorry brakes, it all fails and it takes him a time to recompose himself for the next punch-line.