Art of the Future

The Edinburgh Fringe is dead for another year. I haven’t gone anywhere near it this year. I have enjoyed/detested reading reviews with a heady combination of jealousy and relief as friends are judged, dismissed and lauded. There will be epic Facebook post-mortems and some hand-wringing about the direction of the festival and its long-term viability, but for now it is done, which can mean only one thing: the Leicester Comedy Festival registration deadline rears its head on the horizon.

I’m in an odd position with regard to Leicester this year. My last two Leicester shows, I have felt, were successful and are shows which I would like to hone and refine in order to take to Edinburgh. However, the first of these – Collected Jokes, Poems and Thoughts – started life all the way back in 2019 and I don’t know how I’ll feel about its relevance come Edinburgh 2023. Similarly, 2022’s offering – An Audience with Alastair Bridge – is the product of lockdown and will require work to remove it from this setting and for the character to stand on his own two feet, outside of the lockdown context. Further problematising the Leicester registration is the fact that both of these shows have already been to Leicester and it’d feel like a real cop out to take them back for fine-tuning.

So – what to do? Well – I’ve got four disparate ideas for shows, all of which are varying degrees away from viability, but I thought it may be a good idea to outline them below, both to help me get a clearer picture of what the ideas are and sound out the viewing public as to what could be in the works.

The extent of the influence of the Hanseatic League circa 1400.
  • Untitled Time Travel Hanseatic League Project
    A return to classic Andy Barr fringe show fare – a big, silly, multi-media muck-around with props, projections, voiceovers, multiple time periods etc etc.

    Set, perhaps, in a single Hansa city on the Baltic coast – perhaps focussing on a particular merchant. Throw in a bit of intrigue, some stupid supernatural stuff and – at some stage – a point. I would enjoy playing extremely fast and loose with historical fact and am thinking that I’d be taking a good deal of inspiration from the interplay between Thurn and Taxis and the Tristero in The Crying of Lot 49.

    Basically, I’ve no fucking idea what this show would look like.
The Child Ballads
  • Andy Barr Plays Lyminge Folk Festival/The Barr Ballads
    Probably the most fleshed out idea of the bunch, but the one which would require the most work, and a great deal more elaborate staging than I’ve deployed in the past.

    In this show, I would play the great-grandson of a famed folk song archivist – think Francis James Child – performing songs from his relative’s collection in a neglected corner of the Lyminge Folk Festival (Barr’s fiction), recently taken over by a Brewdog-style ‘punk’ brewery.

    The major stumbling block for this show is that I would either need to learn to sing and play guitar at the same time or have a full-time guitarist collaborator working on the show. A daunting amount of work required this one, so it might stay as more of a developmental future project rather than an immediate concern.
The Mavericks
  • Untitled Radio 2 Breakfast Dream Show
    Inspired by remembering eating my cereal before school whilst Mum listened to Radio 2 and you couldn’t go a single day without hearing The Mavericks’ ‘Dance The Night Away.’ I guess this show would be about memory and nostalgia. Form wise I’ve no idea what this would be. Probably closer to a largely improvised Consignia show than anything else I’ve done.
Image credit Alwin Solanky
  • A Stand-Up Show
    Probably the best decision from a career standpoint.

Well, having completed this process I feel nowhere closer to a decision. Thanks all.

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