Carr was born in Weymouth, Dorset, and spent most of his childhood in Northampton before moving to Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, where he began his comedy career. Carr's breakthrough was in 2001, winning the City Life Best Newcomer of the Year and the BBC New Comedy Awards. In the ensuing years, his career burgeoned on the Manchester comedy circuit before he became well known for hosting The Friday Night Project with Justin Lee Collins. This led to the release of a short-lived entertainment show called Alan Carr's Celebrity Ding Dong in 2008 and, eventually, his popular comedy chat show Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which aired on Channel 4 between 2009 and 2016.
Carr also hosted a radio show, Going Out with Alan Carr, on BBC Radio 2 for three years as well as releasing his autobiography Look Who It Is! (2008) and going on three arena tours: Tooth Fairy Live (2007), Spexy Beast Live (2011) and Yap, Yap, Yap! (2015).
While Carr is openly gay, he does not consider his sexuality to be a focal part of his act, once saying, "I just think gay people need to get over themselves. Just because you're gay and on the telly doesn't mean you're a role model. I'm just a comedian. That's all I am. What am I meant to do? Do I go down the Julian Clary route and talk about fisting and poppers? I don't talk about being gay and I think what better equality for gays than that?"
Carr has won two British Comedy Awards, two National Television Awards and a BAFTA TV Award.