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S1E4:
Phil Carr

Originally not aired on ??/??/????

What’s more important – family or success?

For many of you, the answer’s obvious. That question is more redundant than half of Britain’s workforce right now. Family always comes first; anything else we do is motivated by selfishness.

But then, what if that success is what keeps the family propped up financially? What if “showing love” and “being there” are luxuries for people who can afford them? What if your way of being there is through your absence, through your constant work away from home, the vital work you do to put food and condiments and cutlery and crockery on the table (let alone a tablecloth)?

This is the bind today’s guest on, “Comedians at Home Self-Isolating because of Coronavirus”, Phil Carr, finds himself in. Via zoom with his young daughter just out of shot, Phil was calling me as part of the press tour for his upcoming Netflix series “Dude, Where’s Phil Carr?”, in which he plays the role of an absent father and husband, a story based on his real life as a struggling stand-up comic.

“I guess the show is kind of me exploring why I do comedy,” he said to me. “Is it for me or is it for them?”

“Interesting,” I said. “Now, I’m not trying to fatten you up, Phil, but could you expand for me?”

“Well,” he said. “The money I make from comedy does pay for things, but then sometimes when I’m out in say Burnley or somewhere having the time of my life telling my jokes, I feel guilty. My wife gets annoyed that I’m never at home helping with the cooking and sweeping and setting mousetraps or whatever she does, and my daughter is sad we can’t play Tassimo together.”

“What’s Tassimo?” I asked.

“It’s a game we play with our coffee machine. Basically, I set a timer and say Ready Set GO! And she has to get one of the coffee pods from the box and put it in the machine and press start before the timer ends.”

“So the game is her making you a coffee?”

“If you want to put it in crude terms like that, then yes.”

Phil gave me a demonstration of the game, calling his daughter into shot and starting the timer. A minute later she was back with his coffee.

“I’ve missed a lot of important events in her life doing comedy,” he went on. “I missed her Nativity this year because I had to go do a gig instead.”

“Ah, I’m sorry. Is she a good actor?”

“No, terrible,” He replied. “Not even close to being passable. She has absolutely no future in performing arts of any kind. In fact, they didn’t even give her a speaking role. Her part was ‘a stack of hay’. She just had to dress up as some hay and stand quietly in the background of the stable. But I guess whether she’s talented or not isn’t the point.”

“Yeah I suppose it’s not.”

Despite him missing out on father-daughter time in the past, like all other comedians, Phil is stuck at home now, and I wondered if our current situation is helping him make up for lost time.

“Here’s the thing, Eric. I liked the idea of being in conflict, internally and externally, with myself and with my family, never knowing if I was doing the right thing by being out working all the time. I could tell myself that if I was at home I’d have all this quality time with the family and I’d fantasize about it. But that fantasy, and how good that idea of being with them felt, helped feed the idea that I was making a sacrifice by doing my gigs in Burnley. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, kind of.”

“But now I’m here with them, it’s it’s… well.. it’s awful Eric. It’s just non-stop. 24/7 spending time with these people who I’ve now realised in some ways were strangers to me before. I’m home-schooling and cooking and cleaning and having to take part in conversations and and and…”

At this point Phil started hyperventilating.

“It’s okay Phil, it’s gonna be okay. Surely the one-on-one home-schooling is kind of fun?”

“It’s tedious. She’s so dumb, Eric. She’s almost worse academically than she is at acting. And I know I shouldn’t say it because I’m her dad but it’s true.”

“At least she’s good at Tassimo,” I said.

“That’s her one redeeming feature,” he said.

Suddenly his daughter came into shot holding her pencil case.

“Daddy, we have to do maths now.”

Phil sighed and said, “Sorry, Eric, I’ve got to go.”

That’s what his voice said, anyway. His eyes simply said: “Kill me.”

Tune in next time! X