Comedian and actor Todd Barry will be in Dallas April 25 at the Sons of Hermann Hall to promote his Louis C.K.-produced "Todd Barry: The Crowd Work Tour." It won't be the typical guy-stands-before-crowd-and-tells-jokes show. Instead, it's complete improv and his main source of material is you, the audience.
Basically this all came about when he toured the country putting on crowd work shows and then decided it would make a good documentary or TV special. Without the funds to produce it, he planned to reach out to different production companies, when his friend of 20-something years, who just happens to be Louis C.K., called and offered to host the show on his Web site.
"It seemed like a done deal after that," Barry said.
Directed by Lance Bangs, cameras and a crew followed Barry, filming him on stage and off. But Barry told me the constant presence of the cameras didn't irritate him like he thought they would.
"If I didn't want them to film, I would just tell them to stop," he said. "It wasn't like they were following me into the bathroom or anything."
Filming complete, Barry is now promoting the online show with more "crowd work" shows. When I talked to Barry by phone Thursday morning, he sounded cool and laid back. And I guess that's the attitude a comedian needs to work a show that's completely off the limb.
He doesn't scout out the crowd beforehand. Instead he waits until he's on stage to see everyone in the partially lit room.
"It's not like I'm like, 'This guy. This guy. Not this guy," he said. "I just wait until I'm out there and start talking to them."
But just like anything that's unplanned, not everything goes smoothly.
He laughed when I asked if he has any serious nightmares regarding the show and said things can and do go astray, like audience members not giving him too much to work with.
"I usually move on if I can tell the person is just there to watch the show instead of being involved with it," he says.
I spoke with Barry just hours before Stephen Colbert was officially named the new host for CBS's the Late Show.
When I asked him what his response would be if David Letterman called him tomorrow to ask him to take over the coveted late night spot, he didn't seem too fazed by the idea.
"Well I don't see that happening," he said. "But I guess I would say, 'Why not?' But Letterman is good and it's not something I'm really interested in doing."
After Colbert was named the new host, Barry tweeted this.
Maybe I don't know how show business works, but... uh, Stephen Colbert is replacing Letterman, that means I'm not?
— Todd Barry (@toddbarry) April 10, 2014
If you're looking for him while he's in Dallas, you can most likely find him sipping on some warmth at a nearby coffee shop. May we recommend Murray Street Coffee Shop, Todd?
Tickets to see his show at the Sons of Hermann Hall at 8 p.m. April 25 are 14 bucks.
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