Interview: US comedian Todd Barry set for Edinburgh Fringe
High hopes for American Hot show from 'third conchord'
This article is from 2011.
A big fan of British comedy, New Yorker Todd Barry is happy to be back in Scotland. Brian Donaldson hears from the man who was exceptionally rude to Mickey Rourke and lived to tell the tale
When Todd Barry made his Fringe debut in 2004, the experience didn’t seem to be to anyone’s liking. Stuck in a cavernous hall with a near-midnight start time, people failed to show up in their droves and those who did couldn’t quite get to grips with his deadpan schtick. Expressing good grace, Barry describes it as ‘not the most joyous experience I’ve had. It was a little rough. I didn’t expect Edinburgh to be dancing in the streets because I was arriving in their city; I guess I didn’t really know what to expect.’
Since that largely ill-fated trip, he’s appeared on TV in Flight of the Conchords as a bongo-playing megalomaniac and showed up at last year’s Glasgow Comedy Festival, a visit which rekindled his desire to try Edinburgh again. ‘I do enjoy festivals and I play so much in the States that I take the chance to work overseas when it comes up. Seven years seems like a good cooling down period. This year I’m going on nine hours earlier, so that might help.’
But perhaps the most curious addition to his CV was playing a mean and sarcastic deli boss in Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, opposite the mighty (in both size and reputation) Mickey Rourke. ‘I was very nice to him off camera,’ says Barry, reflecting on having torn Rourke a scripted new one in the movie. ‘It was very surreal because he’s one of those guys I’ve always admired and by a fluke I get this part. There was not a lot of chit-chat beforehand so I was just diving in and insulting this gigantic, famous actor.’
Among the current batch of British comics he’s a fan of, Daniel Kitson, Dave Gorman and Stewart Lee figure highly, all of whom usually revel in dreaming up weird and wonderful show titles. With American Hot, Barry admits to not having realised a title on a par with If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One or Love, Innocence and the Word Cock. ‘We don’t really go in for titles in America, we just kind of go around doing stand-up. But they asked me for a title and American Hot is a pizza that they serve in Pizza Express. I’m not saying I’m hot or anything.’
Todd Barry: American Hot, The Stand III & IV, 558 7272, 16–28 Aug, 3pm, £10.