A Q&A With Todd Barry Ahead of His 12/11 Colony Appearance | Chronogram Magazine
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Deadpan Delivery Man 

A Q&A With Todd Barry Ahead of His 12/11 Colony Appearance

click to enlarge Todd Barry
  • Todd Barry

The term “deadpan” came into use during the early 20th century to describe the dry, droll comedic approach of select vaudeville pioneers like Buster Keaton, whose minimal, detached delivery translated perfectly to the film medium when he transitioned from the stage to the silent screen (“pan” was slang for face). Over the decades, there’ve been many other masters of the form: Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Pat Paulsen, Bob Newhart, Chevy Chase, George Carlin, Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, and Sarah Silverman all come to mind. And then there’s Todd Barry, well known for his voice roles in the animated series “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,” “Squidbellies,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” and “Tom Goes to the Mayor” as well as the live-action shows “Delocated,” “Louie,” “Chapelle’s Show,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” and “Flight of the Conchords.” The comedian, whose clutch of uproarious live standup albums includes 2012’s side-ripping Super Crazy, is currently on his “Stadium Tour,” which will take him to Colony in Woodstock on December 11 at 8pm (tickets are $25-$30). Barry answered the questions below via email.

—Peter Aaron

You grew up in Florida, a state that seems to be a steady font of surreally funny happenings. What parts of Florida are you from, and what was it like growing up there in the 1970s and ’80s? How did it inform what you do now?

I moved to Florida (from New York) when I was eight because my father’s company relocated. We lived in South Florida for most of my Florida years, but then I went to University of Florida in Gainesville. I can’t say growing up in Florida was particularly funny, but it is where I went on stage first (at an open mic night at a comedy club located in a Howard Johnson’s hotel.) I think Florida is kind of unfairly maligned (even though I sort of understand it).

You were a drummer with indie rock band the Chant before you started doing stand-up. How did that experience affect your approach to comedy? Did the importance of timing, for example, carry over into your current craft?

Well, hopefully my timing as a comic is better than my timing as a drummer. (I didn’t practice much, so I wasn’t very good.) I don’t think there’s a connection between my drumming and my comedy, but I do remember making jokes between songs during our shows.

Speaking of touring, when you do go on the road you seem to have a thing for playing smaller towns whenever possible, instead of only sticking to the usual big cities—a preference that is the focus of your 2017 book Thank You for Coming to Hattiesburg. Why the fascination with small towns?

I like playing smaller markets because they’re appreciative in a different way. If you go to a city like Chicago, they might be great and appreciative, but they’re not surprised you’re doing a show there (because everyone does). But if you go to a place like Hattiesburg, Mississippi, you’re more likely to hear something like “Thank you for coming to Hattiesburg.” I first noticed this when I did shows in Alaska. They appreciate that you even made the trip.

And speaking of small towns, you’re coming to Colony in Woodstock on December 11. For anyone who hasn’t—or has—seen you in stand-up mode, what should they expect?

A barn-burning hootenanny filled with acrobatics and pyrotechnics.

Todd Barry performs at Colony Woodstock on December 11.
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