If you’ve seen even one episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee or read a print interview with a comic, you know that they love to wax poetic and nostalgic about the allure of being on a stage. That’s why I present to you, with little astonishment, the news that Jim Carrey, former stand-up, did exactly that while chatting about the new Sonic The Hedgehog movie on David Spade’s talk show, Lights Out . And wow, the dream of the ’90s is alive in that sentence, ain’t it? What is notable, however, is that Carrey seems open to the idea of exploring a stand-up special in the future, telling Spade that, “anything is possible” before further discussing his ability to summon new material and how social media and smartphones mean he’d be unable to workshop said material by playing small clubs, a key part of the process of actually doing a special. Or, at least, doing a good one.
The seeming openness to a return marks a change for Carrey, who had closed himself off to the idea as recently as 2017, telling the assembled press at a TCA panel that he hadn’t been inspired to consider a stand-up return while producing the 1970s LA stand-up scene focused Showtime series, I’m Dying Up Here.
In truth, Carrey’s stand-up career is more notable for the doors it opened up for him, such as In Living Color (which, of course, lead to his wildly successful run of ’90s blockbusters), more nuanced work in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine, and… well, you know what he’s done and IMDB is a thing if you don’t. The point is, there’s no Raw for people to cling to like there is with Eddie Murphy.
Carrey’s previous comedy special, 1991’s Unnatural Act, is a good sampling of his impressions and energetic stage presence, but nothing groundbreaking. If there’s anything from his stand-up past that should excite you, though, it’s Carrey’s commitment to on-stage experimentation, like when he aggressively remade his act by going out on stage, every night, absent material, telling Roger Ebert in 1994 that he would “not repeat a line from one night to the next.” The last 30 years stand as evidence that his approach worked, but it’s a hell of a thing to try and makes it even more impressive that he made it out on the other side.
So, maybe Carrey doesn’t need small club dates to tune-up. Maybe unpreparedness is the hook? And if you pair the above history lesson with the weird blend of attempted zen and throwback wildness that Carrey wears as proudly and attention-gettingly as the hot pink sport coat in the above clip (plus whatever that Andy Kauffman/Man On The Moon documentary was), then maybe this thing could be really interesting. It’s just a question of whether someone’s got the money (all the money) and Carrey’s got the time and interest in doing more than offering a vaguely affirmative kernel that was guaranteed to get people to write articles that end on sentences like, well…
Until we know more about this possible stand-up return, I guess we’ll just have to enjoy Carrey on the big screen as he chases speedy hedgehogs in Sonic The Hedgehog.