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Random 8

James Barr

James Barr

One random comedian, eight random questions; it's the ultimate test of funny person and fate. This week we welcome James Barr, the popular podcaster (co-host of the long-running A Gay and a NonGay), breakfast radio DJ and later-in-the-day stand-up who is in revelatory mood right now.

His latest show, destined for this year's Edinburgh Fringe, is Sorry I Hurt Your Son (Said My Ex To My Mum), which - as the title suggests - unpacks a painful point in his relationship history. Is it a story he needed to tell?

"Comedy might not be the first thing you think of when you consider domestic violence," Barr concedes. "But comedy is a game of tension and release. The buildup of tension, anticipation, and the punchline that follows mirror the emotional manipulation in abusive relationships. Realising this, I knew I had to explore it.

"At first I ignored my pain and told the audience I was FINE, but that process made me realise I needed to speak up in a much more authentic way. Now, it's a story I want to tell. I hope this hour becomes a voice for victims who are silenced by their ex-partners."

It's definitely a show he would want to get right, then, and it's previewing in Manchester this week, then London, before embarking on Edinburgh's Underbelly. Is the hour still evolving, as we speak?

"Definitely. I've been working with Madeleine Parry, who co-directed Hannah Gadsby's amazing Nanette. Madeleine has inspired me to change my show every single day, just as Hannah did. It makes sense, my feelings about what happened to me are constantly evolving. Sometimes I feel lost, other times found, powerful, or weak or literally crazy. It feels authentic to give space to all these energies as they arise so the show will continue to evolve, just like me. I've also got more comfortable being uncomfortable and as a result it's got much funnier."

James Barr, your Random 8 await.

James Barr

What was your childhood career dream?

Greta Thunberg will cancel me but I really wanted to be a travel reporter, LIVE from a helicopter. I don't care about roads but I needed to feel above everyone else. Even as a child. The haters can't get me if I'm in the sky.

Who's the most interesting person you've ever met?

I met Harvey Milk's nephew at Pride in London but that's not very funny, so I'll say Brian Cox from Succession, I've never met anyone so rude. He was WORSE than he is on TV. I LOVED IT.

What's your favourite mode of transport?

Submersibles seem pretty chic.

Which film would you love to have been in, and which part?

I actually wish I'd been in Titanic. I love the trashy vibe of Kathy Bates' new-money bitch, the "unsinkable Molly Brown". That's very me pretending I'm important at Soho House even though I'm a guest and my friend just left!

James Barr. Copyright: Corinne Cumming

Your most memorable injury?

I had an absolutely horrifying bout of reactive arthritis, apparently caused by chlamydia - yes it's a thing. I couldn't walk for three months. DM me with your questions. I feel so lucky I'm okay again but terrified I'll get it again. Sex is great but have you tried not walking.

What's the greatest invention ever?

THE AIR FRYER. AND CHANNEL 5 (because of their commitment to Air Fryer documentaries, and Jane McDonald obvs).

When were you most embarrassed?

When I interviewed Cher Lloyd (of X Factor and Swagger Jagger fame) and she realised I hadn't listened to her album. It was 2012 and a week later she sent me a signed CD in the post to make a point.

Which place you've visited was the biggest anti-climax?

Pisa in Italy. What a boring place my godddd. The nearest gay on Grindr was over 100km away. Can you imagine?!! I had to climb the tower instead.


James Barr: Sorry I Hurt Your Son (Said My Ex to My Mum) is previewing in Manchester and London, then heads to the Edinburgh Fringe from July 31st. jamesbarrcomedy.com

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