What has he been doing for a decade? The following:
Tropic of Admin
In 2017, Andy Barr took his debut hour-long solo show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Tropic of Admin. The show was inspired by reading half of a flawed ’50s sociological text on Cargo Cults and a new-found, and to many friends and family infuriating, passion for exotica (particularly the music of Les Baxter, and later Haruomi Hosono). An immersive, interactive character piece about a school administrator marooned on a desert island the show featured a job interview with a crab, coconuts being loaned to audience members via the proper administrative channels and a talent contest invoking a foul Marilyn Monroe.
The show received two reviews (cumulative star rating: *******) – both of which were polite with viable pull-quotes for future promotional materials – and a recommendation in the i Paper from Tim Key as one of his picks of the fringe (a recommendation which did little to ailing ticket sales, but much to swell Barr’s cold little heart).
2018 saw Barr return to the Fringe with a show inspired by brutalist architecture and experimental ’70s German music (starting point Hans Joachim Roedelius): Neustadt. In the show, Barr played a post-war British architect who is dragged into a web of intrigue when he is both contacted by East German authorities to design the perfect socialist city and by the British Secret Intelligence Service to work as a double agent behind the iron curtain. The show featured an abrasive musical number, a high-octane mission behind enemy lines and a bit about Soviet drainage of the Aral Sea which went over most people’s heads (or perhaps wasn’t very funny).
Neustadt received an award from Jester Jesters for ‘Previewing Excellence’ which was delivered immediately before the first show of the run and precipitated what – in industry parlance – is termed ‘a stinker’. Overall the show was reviewed twice (cumulative star rating: ******). It can be viewed in its entirety here:
Barr’s 2019 show, The Ruby, took as its inspiration a rather intense period of self-loathing, coupled with anxiety around the world prospects for Barr’s nieces and nephews.
The show charted the fortunes of a fictional family line of Barrs and their treasured heirloom, a priceless yet cursed ruby. From spice trader Archibald Barr’s acquisition of the ruby from the King of Sikkim in 1750, through oil prospector, Upton Barr’s violent butchery of a number of animals in the 1910s and Aballach Barr’s time as a dilettante Lord of the Manor in the 1960s, the show demonstrated the present-day Barr’s familial complicity in all of the world’s ills. It included a bit where Barr eats loads of dry spices, a bit where he drank a full milkshake through a smoking pipe and culminated in a segment in which the audience are implored to build Barr a child from dismembered doll parts.
The show was reviewed professionally zero times (cumulative star rating: ) but received positive feedback from members of the public on the Edinburgh Fringe website, all of which now appears lost to time. A film was made, but will it ever be released?
Collected Jokes, Poems and Thoughts 2010-2020
In 2020, Barr has decided to take a break from the Fringe – which given that the Fringe may be taking a break from Earth due to COVID-19, doesn’t seem such a bad idea. Instead he has produced a more straight-down-the-line, no gimmicks, no props stand-up show collecting all of the unused (and still viable) work from 10 years in the game! Collected Jokes, Poems and Thoughts 2010-2020 debuted at Leicester Comedy Festival in February 2020 and will go on to play Cambridge and Prague Fringe Festivals in May 2020, along with anywhere else that will have it.
Thus far it has been reviewed zero times (cumulative star rating: ) but there is the hope that that will change.