Todd Barry: The (Brief) Q&A

Todd Barry’s comedic approach might be described as “way less is more.” As the definitively laconic comedian of the moment, Barry inverts the over-the-top physical gestations of your Dane Cooks of Comedy and gets far more mileage to boot. Barry’s recently released album, the somewhat ironically named Super Crazy, finds him refining his low-key delivery. Flagpole reached him via e-mail to inquire just a little bit further.

Flagpole: You’ve said that you work out your material onstage rather than writing in a cafe. Why do you prefer to work that way? What’s that process like? How long does a joke typically take before you’re totally satisfied with it?

Todd Barry: I still try to write at coffee shops, but I just end up staring into space. It just comes out more naturally if you work it out on stage. Some jokes are almost done immediately, others take lots and lots of rewrites. And sometimes I’ll give up on a joke, then re-explore it later.

FP: The New York Times has added a “Comedy” section to their arts listings. Do you see this as part of a movement towards comedy being increasingly validated as an art form?

TB: I guess that’s a step in the right direction. There’s still not a lot of coverage of it in the US. I mean, they’ll list it, but you don’t see a lot of reviews, but maybe that’s a good thing.

FP: Your interactions with Louie CK on his TV show involves a lot of shit-talking and put-downs. Is that an accurate snapshot of your friendship with Louis, or the dynamic between comedians in general?

TB: Louie and I insult each other in real life. It’s fun! What else are we supposed to talk about?

FP: Who is a comedy influence of yours that your audience might not expect?

TB: I don’t know if they’re influences, but I like Sam Kinison and Andy Kaufman. Not sure if people would expect that.

FP: Who are some underrated or up and coming comedians that you’re a fan of?

TB: There’s a guy from Portland named Ron Funches who’s really funny. And I still think I’m underrated. 🙂

FP: You’re known for your mellow, relaxed onstage presence. Have you ever lost your temper onstage (a la Zach Galifianakis’ outbursts)?

TB: Sure, but I do it in a mellow way.

Todd Barry performs with Neil Hamburger and Brendon Walsh this Thursday, Aug. 23 at 40 Watt Club.


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