Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Alistair Barrie

Alistair Barrie

Alistair Barrie is one of the comedy circuit's smartest, most versatile stand-ups. He can be political, he can be personal, he can tackle the everyday. You name it, he’ll find the funny. He is just about to embark on a particularly busy period. On May 12 he appears at War on Want’s annual benefit gig at the Union Chapel alongside Francesca Martinez, Aisling Bea, Jeremy Hardy and more. Tickets here

After that he will be finding time between writing his very tasty restaurant blog,, to hone his latest Edinburgh Fringe show, No More Stage Three, which will be free and at Movement on Cowgate at 3:45pm. He describes it as being “about a topical comedian's wife getting breast cancer, thus allowing him a bit more perspective on what really constitutes bad news.” It's a show inspired by recent difficult experiences, but rest assured it will make you smile.

Do yourself a favour, go and see Barrie at one of these shows. Preferably both.


1. What is the last thing you do before you go onstage (apart from check your flies, check for spinach between teeth and check your knickers aren't sticking out of your skirt)? 

I press record on my phone, knowing I will come up with something hilarious off the top of my head whilst riffing away with my customary improvisational genius. The moment I get home, I listen carefully to each individual recording, take detailed notes and tweak and hone my act to pure comedic gold through a constantly evolving process of editing and rewrites. Under no circumstances do I let the files build up on my phone until I accept the inevitable fact I'm never going to listen to that many recordings of myself doing exactly the same jokes over and over again.
2. What irritates you?

A build up of unlistened to recordings on my phone.

3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?

I swam with Great White Sharks in South Africa, although the handy addition of a metal cage around the area I was swimming in did render it a bit less dangerous. For the sharks, obviously, as I have a black belt in sea karate (although it does look a lot like a pair of tiny Speedos.)
4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

As a teenager I rode a BMX off a crescent-shaped ramp, only to realise in mid-air you were meant to go around it like a little semi-circular wall of death rather than over it like an actual jump of death. I discovered shortly afterwards that the law of physics that states all objects fall at the same speed is a lie. Then I landed on my bicycle.

5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy? 

The amount of people who are convinced that the best place to watch live comedy is in a stadium when they could save themselves an enormous amount of money by installing a TV at the bottom of the garden and watching the DVD from the comfort of their own homes.
Read more answers from Alistair Barrie here.



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