Laugh out loud funny – Barry (centre) looking uncharacteristically smart. Image courtesy of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society / James Glossop
Full name: Barry Church-Woods
Occupation: Festival and Events Manager
We’ve kind of already covered this, but tell us in your own words; what is your involvement in The Big C?
I set up the Big C with Mhari Hetherington after my big sister Julie died from cancer. I’m mainly responsible for begging the acts to perform on the show, though to be honest, there’s never that much begging involved. We have about a 95% success rate with acts we want if they are in town as it’s such a universal cause. On the rare occasion we’re turned down, it’s because they already have commitments. I’m also the voice behind most of the rude social media out-with August.
Who is your favourite comedy hero, act or actor?
I have a million.
I’m really attracted to gobby women. Comedy fag hags like Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho and Chelsea Handler make me laugh out loud on a daily basis. I also think Megan Mullally as Karen Walker is one of the best sitcom characters ever written.
I’ve always been a fan of sitcoms. I remember sitting in my bedroom as a 14-year-old watching Cheers on an old black and white TV, with a dial to tune the stations. I’m pretty sure I’m going to make a tit out of myself when I meet George Wendt, as Norm was always one of my favourite characters.
Favourite comedy moment (your own or someone else’s)?
I love gallows humour. When things are so bad that the only thing left to do is laugh. That’s kind of where the Big C was borne from. Mhari and I used to sit around drinking whisky and crying about our dead relatives until we had to take a step back and take the piss out of each other.
There’s something really powerful about making people laugh in times of sadness. I’ll never forget the first episode of Saturday Night Live after the twin towers fell. Reese Witherspoon was presenting and instead of the “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” introduction there was a cold opening with Reese and the cast, firefighters, the police and Rudy Giuliani who was mayor at the time. It was a really beautiful image and it made me tear up a little (because I’m not dead inside). Giuliani then said that despite the terrorist attacks, the show would go on as normal to which Lorne Michaels asked “Can we be funny?” and the mayor responded “Why start now?”
What in your everyday life always makes you laugh?
I married the funniest man I’ve ever met. Every day I giggle like a teenage girl because of something he says or does. Corny I know but it’s the truth.
Who is your secret celebrity crush?
Jesus. And Wendy Liebman.
In five words, why should people come to (or support) The Big Comedy Gala?
Cancer affects all of us.