Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Barry Ferns: Page 2 of 2

6. What do your parents think of your job?
 
My parents are a working class couple from Dorset who are genuine, hard working, who can’t really put my choice of career into context as it’s so different from their world. But they don’t mind. My brother is a car valeter, and I don’t think they see either of us in a better or worse or more or less remarkable job. 

7. What’s the worst thing about being a comedian?

The constant temptation to assess how well you are doing by looking at other comedians accomplishments or your last gig for reference. How good you are has very little to do with the above. It’s very difficult to know whether to carry on or not or whether you’re just making a deluded mess of your life. In some ways that is what makes it a very honest profession – as there is no hiding from the fact that your only battle is with yourself.  
 
8. I think you are very good at what you do (that’s why I’m asking
these questions). What do you think of you?
 

That’s very kind. Thank you. 

I don’t know if it’s possible to get a balanced view of myself from inside the preconceptions and limited view of my own head. It’s probably dependent on my fluctuating mood and general internal thermostat. 

If I’m feeling positive I feel I might be doing okay, as I try my best, and my gigs certainly go well (People often are way more positive about them than feels comfortable to me) 

If I’m feeling more negative I feel that I am unoriginal and incapable of a funny or even above mediocre thought however hard I try. 

9. How much do you earn and how much would you like to earn?

It fluctuates – this year I earnt £24,000. I would like to earn whatever the exact median wage is for the area I live (London). I think if I regularly earnt above that wage I would try to give it away. There is a lot of inequality, and so anything I earn above that is surely depriving someone else of that amount? 

10. How important is luck in terms of career success – have you had lucky breaks? 

Luck is everything. As humans we try to make sense of a completely chaotic world around us, and after the event we fit a narrative that makes sense of what just happened. But everything is luck. Luck is a comedy club starting in Bournemouth when I was 16 at JUST the right time for me to do my first gig. Luck is being seen by a promoter who recommended me for So You Think You’re Funny. Luck is being given a coffee after a long drive when, unbeknownst to me there is a BBC producer in the audience of a gig. Luck is getting a good education. 

11. Alan Davies has said that comedians fall into two categories - golfers and self-harmers. The former just get on with life, the latter are tortured artists. Which are you – or do you think you fit into a third category? 

For me, playing golf would be an act of self harm. 

I’m curious about fluidity of personality – perhaps at one moment of your life you might be a tortured artist, and a decade later a relaxed golfer. Most people I know change quite a lot as time and life administers it’s vapours. So I’d say both. I am both. 

And neither. 

12. Who is your favourite person ever and why – not including family or friends or other comedians?

I have a HUGE soft spot for Jo Brand. From what I’ve seen of her she seems warm, balanced, kind, intelligent, honest, and very funny.  But I’ve never met her, so maybe she’s a right bastard. But I’d bet that she was right lovely. 

13. Do you keep your drawers tidy and if not why not? (please think long and hard about this question, it's to settle an argument with my girlfriend. The future of our relationship could depend on your response). 

I am terrible at keeping my drawers tidy. Every 6 months or so I administer a Stalinist clear out of all of my drawers, vowing that I will keep them tidy from now on, but over the next few weeks they slip slide back into chaos. And the cycle continues. Wherever I live, my  drawers only have the facade of order, USB cables and random socks spring like snakes from under every stationary object. 

 

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