James Barr: 'Being so honest so early into my comedy career hurt my soul'
- The List
- 8 August 2019
Podcast presenter turned stand-up comedian talks about his first solo show
James Barr presents the multi-award winning podcast A Gay And A Nongay. Here he talks about his first solo show which examines how as a young gay man, all the dating apps might have made it easier than ever to indulge in a night of passion, but that he and his young gay millennial contemporaries are finding it all the harder to find real relationships and true love.
2019 dating is a struggle-bus, and I've been chasing that bus like James Corden chases celebrities he's pretending to be friends with.
I've had a pretty difficult time with my debut Edinburgh show Thirst Trap. I started writing and performing stories of my doomed dating life at work-in-progress slots a year ago, but owning my truth and facing myself made me so unhappy that I ended up on antidepressants. In my show I joke about searching for love on dating apps, looking for 'the one' in all of the WORST places (Northern Ireland) and even take the audience speed dating, effectively re-living rejection after rejection, all in the name of comedy. Being so honest so early into my comedy career hurt my soul… I genuinely felt confused about why the audience were laughing at me. My brain would ask 'Am I that desperate?' and I felt bullied. I laugh at that now, what did I think was going to happen?! Then it clicked. They're not laughing at me; they're laughing with me.
We're all in this together. We're an entire generation of people that grew up brainwashed by happily ever after storylines that the world sold to us. We're told that 'The elusive One' is out there waiting to be found. That we deserve them. That they're so special they'd fight dragons, climb towers and pick up chicken nuggets for us when we're hungover. I've spent the last ten years of my life chasing that, imagining that one day a handsome prince would swoop in and save me. I've believed that my entire life, with all of its adventures, was building to a life-changing 'Happily ever after' with the man of my dreams. That I'd quit my job, escape to the country and have children. I'd finally delete my Grindr and get a profile on Mumsnet. I dreamed of becoming a 'Basic Becky', posting smug photo's cuddling my man on Instagram, whilst referring to him not by his name but by an affectionate pet name like 'This one' (nothing speaks more of a person's importance to you than removing their actual name and implying ownership! #Goals).
We're obsessed with finding the perfect match and it's even harder when you're gay. In the time it's taken you to read this I could have exchanged nudes and hooked up with a guy I found 1.2km away on Grindr. He's pretty hot actually. Maybe I'll find a really meaningful connection with this one, 'Mum I want you to meet my boyfriend! This is fuckboy 🍆💦💦💦'. I'm not even joking maybe he IS the one? We were both online at the same time! Surely that's a sign?!
It's so easy to find a moment of passion online, that finding something more special feels impossible. Or at least it did. Spoiler alert, I'm still single, but I'm now in a place where I'm happier single than ever. My show Thirst Trap has helped me to realise so many things about myself. Some good and some bad (I'm pretty needy. You'd have to be to put posters of your face up all over Edinburgh). The biggest thing I've realised is that maybe I've been looking for love from everyone else because I don't love myself. Deep. I've been trying to win the heart of a man, rather than remembering that I'm a prize and that they need to win me! I know I sound like a yoga mum (NamasGay), but the most important relationship we have is with ourselves, yet for some reason we spend so much energy focused on finding someone we don't even know yet. How dumb is that?
After realising all of this I decided to finish writing my show. I'm in Edinburgh for my official premiere and as well as making you laugh at my 'increasingly desperate' search to find the one, I genuinely hope I'll make you feel better about yourself.
Oh, and if I do actually meet The One in the audience, I will end my run early, move to the countryside and never speak to you or any of my friends and family ever again. Lots of love, Basic Becky x
James Barr: Thirst Trap, Underbelly Cowgate, until 25 Aug (not 12), 5.20pm, £11 (£10).