An Interview with Barry Ferns

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Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry, Barry Ferns! The Mumble track’d him down to his Canal-Boat for a wee blether & an M&S sandwich… 

Hello Barry, so where ya from and where ya at, geographically speaking?
Barry: I’m from Dorset. I’m at Anarco-Syndaclist-Communes

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Barry: When I was 7 years old and I kept writing “3 p sweet” instead of Three Piece Suite. Much to the consternation of my teacher and the amusement of my classmates.

How did you get into Comedy?
Barry: I did my first gig when I was 15 years old in a pub called the Bricklayers arms in Poole. I’d been studying it for years, watching my favourite comedians, writing out their routines, like a real comedy egg head and trying to write my own jokes (mostly puns)

Can you tell us about Angel Comedy?
Barry: I can – it’s a club run by comedians for comedians. It’s free entry and it started (and was so successful) because the professional comedy industry weren’t giving comics the chance to perform 5 or 10 minute set in front of a busy crowd (a totally different experience to horrible open-mics). I put it’s success down to the fact that there are LOADS of brilliant comedians out there – but very few gigs willing to give them a chance to perform. Angel Comedy is one of the few clubs in the country that have brand new acts as well as the biggest acts in the UK on their roster.

What do you like to do when you’re not around comedy?
Barry: I pootle up and down the canals of London in My canal boat. I live on a Calal boat. Like a water gypsy. It’s very cheap. And very cold in winter.

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Barry: I would choose Robin Williams because he seemed to be (both by friends reporting it and by reputation) a very kind and gentle man. I would invite Albert Einstein and hope that he speaks English, and I would invite Elizabeth Barrett Browning – a brilliant poet from the 19th Century, just to see if she’s as interesting as she seems. I wouldn’t cook as I wouldn’t want to offend them. Maybe an omelette, I can make omelettes. And some huel. And a M&S desert. Something nice and flashy.

You are bringing BARRY LOVES YOU to the Edinburgh Fringe, can you tell us about it?
Barry: Barry Loves You is a show I’ve been working on for almost 3 years. The Bill Murray has taken up a lot of my time. But it touches the silliest parts of my life and also the deepest parts of my life. I genuinely feel that there won’t be a more connected show on the Fringe this year.


What is it about The Bill Murray that resonates the most with you?
Barry: Part of the reason I struggled and got into debt with comedy is that I didn’t have a place to work, or struggled finding a community to work with. And I ended up having to put on expensive shows just to try my material out. The Bill Murray solves those issues – people can work there for free during the week. It’s a place where comedians can meet and hang out and it’s also a thriving and massive community that is used by brand new comedians and national treasures like Frank Skinner and Simon Amstell.

You were once bankrupted by the Edinburgh Fringe; so why do you keep coming back? What is it about performing at the Scottish capital you love the most?
Barry: The Edinburgh fringe is phenomenal, just to see the craziness, of what all all these people are doing with their lives. It’s always so inspiring. It felt like running away to the circus for a week. A human circus. Where the animals treat themselves badly. It is truly brilliant. When you get off the train at Edinburgh Waverly the fun and crazyness is all around you. You see a contortionist dressed as Braveheart, then you get accosted by a load of students singing cocacobana, then you see an opera singer walking a tightrope. And every corner you turn there’s the mythic, timelessly Scottish sound of the bagpipes. Bagpipe players are everywhere. Every doorway you pass is a performance space. Sit down in a café and the person next you could be a trapeze artist, a ventriloquist, a Russian Poet, or a thief. Just check your bags. And all this takes place with the backdrop of perpetual rain to the sporadic beat of hearts being clogged by trans-fats. How can you not love it – it’s like no-where on earth!


Can you tell us about your show on Arthurs Seat?
Barry: The show I’ve been doing on Arthurs Seat every year since 2007 and is the spot of my best gig. Being at the top of a Volcano plug, and not being sure that an audience will show up, or be able to hear the show because of a wind, or whether it will get rained off. It’s almost the exact worst circumstances for a gig, but the first time it happened in 2007 it worked so so well and was such a lovely feeling. Everyone was happy and on cloud nine. The audience, the performers, no-one could quite believe that it happened and that it was such a good gig because of it. I think everyone left almost pinching themselves that it was possible. The experience of doing the gig itself was the closest I’ve come to skydiving. It’s just a case of jumping into it and hoping that the wind takes you. And it did.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show(s) to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Barry: If you want to know what love is – come to this show. If you want to know what love isn’t come to this show. If you just want an enjoyable hour of your life – come to this show.

What will Barry Ferns be doing after the Fringe?
Barry: Barry Ferns will be going to New York to gig – and also, quite possibly, to have a breakdown there. New York is so mental, if you have a breakdown people actually think you’re native.

Barry Loves You

Just the Tonic @ The Tron

Aug 3-12, 14-26 (21.00)


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