An Interview With Alistair Barrie
How did you get into comedy?
I left drama school and was astonished to find that the BBC, not to mention Hollywood, didn’t seem to be falling over themselves to offer me work. I had always loved comedy but I had no idea how you became a comedian. Luckily I had a job doing telesales (that’s not the lucky bit) round the corner from The Comedy Café in Shoreditch which runs a new act night every Wednesday, and I used to go and watch most weeks. After one particularly awful night, I decided I could do better, so phoned up and booked myself in. The rest is (not really) history.
Who is your comedy hero?
Probably Dave Allen or Tom Lehrer, but there are really far too many to choose from.
What is the best venue that you have ever played at?
See above, although a month at The Baxter Theatre in Cape Town was pretty good and I will always love playing The Comedy Store.
Why do you enjoy doing corporate work?
It varies – on the best occasions, you get the opportunity to travel – I’ve done corporate work as far away as Athens, Norway, France and India - and to play in interesting places; I’ve done football stadiums, hotel ballrooms and the main hall of The Natural History Museum (twice - tough gig being watched by a skeleton.) You also get to tailor your material to the event – the internet and the company website have become particularly useful tools for the comedian looking to poke a little gentle fun at willing clients. This keeps things a little different, and the vibe is often really good – audiences tend to have been well looked after, and it can lose some of the more gladiatorial elements of a weekend comedy club. Not always, mind you…
If you could top the bill at any event what would it be?
Glastonbury remains the only major festival I haven’t played, so that would be nice, but you never know quite what to expect from a festival gig, and anyway, the real headliners aren’t on the comedy stage at Glastonbury. Having worked in a number of big theatres over the years, mostly for benefit gigs, they can be amazing places to perform. The Lyceum is particularly good, so I’d have to say the event would be the Alistair Barrie Show at The Lyceum. I just need to shift a few tickets first.
What’s your biggest achievement this year?
I have filled in some really influential questionnaires.
What’s your favourite way to spend a Sunday?
Having just bought a nice house with a garden and a couple of ponds, I’d have to say it’s probably a big old barbecue with the other half, the dog and some friends, partly because the other half won’t let me say playing cricket.
What personal ambition must you fulfill before you die?
I mustn’t do anything – if you always deal in absolutes you’ll only end up disappointed – but I wouldn’t mind it if Hollywood changed their mind a tiny bit, and, on a more realistic level, The Alistair Barrie Show at The Lyceum sounds pretty good.
Can you leave us with your favourite joke?
I’m afraid it’s a visual gag, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. Try imagining something really, really funny. But please don’t corner me after a show to tell me about it.
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