Barry’s mid life crisis occurred when he was still a young man. Okay, so he sold his law practice, traipsed around the world alone, and came back to a lucrative career in stand up comedy. Of course, as a former barrister, I told him that the only change he really made in his transition to comedy was the venue! Oh, how true it is, right, Barry?
It was not a dark and stormy night in Santiago, when I met this rather curious chap in the internet alcove of a fairly decent hotel. As we both cursed the slow speed of the internet, the ugly women around Santiago, and the state of world peace, we formed a bond only inveterate travelers like us can form. One based solely on bull shit and the promise of cheap alcohol.
Sure enough, Barry joined us for dinner. I was, myself, traversing the length of Chile with long time friend and travel buddy, Mike. We were neighbors at one time, but I was voted off the cul de sac when I got divorced, and could no longer afford to live in Shangri-La. It turns out that Mike and Barry formed the only bond that really counts. The bond of cheap Chilean wine, in a smoke filled room, around midnight, with nothing better on the horizon. We have been everywhere and nowhere, all at once. Guess which one this would be?
Of course, Barry entertained us with his “stories” of South Africa over a four hour dinner. It turns out they are all true. In fact, as he turned to comedy, and his eventual epiphany to write a book, it all came together. His story, or lack thereof, is exposed, or should I say, showcased, in his “Diary of a Black Comic”. One thing for sure, when you buy the book, DO NOT look at the cover, as it really stinks!
He often sent videos of his routines at comedy clubs. I had no clue then, nor do I have any now, about the comedic content of his performances. Likewise, after reading his book, I still confess to know nothing about South African humor. But he does manage to piss off enough people along the way to the top of his profession. He makes friends in comedy clubs as easily as he did that fateful afternoon in Santiago.
He does manage to catch my attention in Chapter 37 (hell, how did he write so many chapters about nothing?). He goes into a Chicago comedy club in the slums of northside. Only a bloke from Cape Town would do this! He manages to get picked up by two very large native women. He and his ex-pat South African brother got picked on by every comic, from their honky white appearance in an all Black club, to their funny looking clothes, and pointy shoes. This is the type of story only Barry could tell, and live to tell about it. I am glad I was not there!
Must you read this book? Should you understand Black and South African humor? I could not tell you. But the stories behind the stories have enough “bite” to make you come back for more. Did I finish the book? Did I burn it when I was done? Stay tuned!!!!