Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Sara Barron: Page 2 of 2

6. What do your parents/children (delete as applicable) think of your job?

I think my parents are just really hoping it works out, and that I can cobble some semblance of a career together. I came to standup late – at 35 – and what I think they think, but don’t ever say is, “Um, sweetie: what happens if this doesn’t work? Will you just be… what? A housewife? Or go back to writing?” Basically, they just bleed anxiety about my future all the time, always. 

I also have a child, and he’s two, and all he understands of what I do is that his dad puts him to bed most nights. He is otherwise mostly engaged with standing on the high street pointing at buses like they’re celebs on a red carpet. 

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

Two things: 

1. Lack of structure and stability. If standup could be somehow exactly what it is, but between the hours of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, I’d be in heaven. I love a routine. 

2. I additionally struggle with the way that competition feels so fundamental to the British comedy scene. I only started doing standup once I lived in the UK, but I worked on the writing side of things when I lived in the States. I knew a handful of American standups as a result, and the competitive element just doesn’t play as big a role over there. I’m not talking about the competitive nature of one comic or another. I’m talking about the role that competitions play in the industry, the way that participating in them is the clearest path to getting seen by the industry, signed by an agent, etc. And then, of course, there’s the Edinburgh festival and all of its shortlists and awards. It’s competition almost as a framework, and it awakens a level of anxiety I used to feel as a child when forced to play a game of “Duck Duck Goose”. 

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?

I think I’m solid as a baseline, with the usual swing between “Wow! She was good!” and “that was… fine. She was fine.” 

But I’m working to shift that. I’d like to be squarely, jaw-droppingly magnificent.   

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

I earn so little that actually calling myself a comedian is a bit of a joke because really what I am is the stay-at-home mum who stands on the high street with her two-year-pointing at buses. I earn, as you and your countrymen say, “Fuck all.”

That said, I would like to earn £350,000 a year. If that kind of money came into my life, I could pay someone else to stand with my kid pointing at buses, and also maybe fix my hair.    

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

I think luck is moderately important. That said, and because comedy is arguably the most meritocratic of all the arts, it’s the one where you need it the least, and where it does the least for you. 

In terms of my own lucky breaks: I have a couple close friends (not comics, but they work in sort of adjacent professions) who, I believe, both have impeccable taste in comedy and forensic minds for how they think about it. They’re kind and generous with their time despite being much farther along in the careers, and my comedy is immeasurably better because of them. They are both my lucky breaks. 

 
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?

Golfer. Please see response above about how I wish standup could be 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

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

I’ll tell you who was great: Leonard Francis Foot. 

When I was 17, I worked in a discount bookstore, in a strip-mall, in the suburbs of Chicago. My “look”, as it were, was: SARA IS VERY PALE BUT WEARS NO MAKEUP OTHER THAN A SORT OF DEEP RED LIPSTICK. Almost a russet lipstick. I had to wear an apron and a nametag, and Leonard Francis Foot was one of my fellow bookstore employees. He was in his late ‘20s, probably, and a stone-cold weirdo, a nerd beyond parody, and for a reason he never explained, he only ever referred to me as “Sara Sara Tommy Barron”. He was so strange and so sweet, and when he worked out that I had a penchant for the head-sized cinnamon buns at the Cinnabun a few doors down, he’d buy me one sometimes. A romance never flourished. But boy: a love was there. 

 

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).

They’re tidy, Bruce. I’m not a goddamn monster. 

 

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