Paige Jennifer Barr talks about ‘Death, Dating and I Do’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Paige Jennifer Barr
Name of Edinburgh show: Death, Dating, and I Do
Venue: TheSpace on the Mile #2
Performance time: 11:15am
Show length: 50minutes
Ticket price: £7 concession £4

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
Sure I have been an actor for a long time, but over the years I have always written either sketch or a multitude of short comedic films. I have performed at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade theatre, The PIT, The Laugh Factory, The Broadway Comedy Club, and lots of other iconic New York stages, which is kind of exciting in a long list. You can also find me on the YouTube. I only in the last decade have I realized I didn’t have a hobby (which is defined as something you do purely for pleasure – wait WHAT?). After my husband died I learned to play the ukulele. I do play it in the show but really it’s my lovely little hobby.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
This show is about navigating this crazy world as a young widow and how friends are what save you. It is about how the saddest and most tragic moments are immediately beside the funniest moments of your life. So I go from my journey with my late husbands illness then death. Then I talk about how unprepared I was for dating in the modern age (what’s a tinder?). Then finding other love of my life by accident. On the map of life; sometimes you realize, oh dear, you’re not even ON the map.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I have been working on and off on this show for a few years but my amazing director was hugely influential in it’s current form. I kept a journal while it was all happening as I am a writer so it was therapeutic but also I thought ‘this is THE funniest thing that has EVER happened I CANNOT forget this.’ When you are faced with constant unexpected crisis for 5 years your brain tends to be less good about recording things (less good?) you know what I mean, even if bad grammar is an example (oh boy!).

Also I do talk about how managed to get JJ Abrams to show my late husband the unfinished version of Star Trek before he died. That was something.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
It is my FIRST TIME!!! OMG SO YOU tell me! I believe I learned about the festival in the early 90’s so I have been keen to come over and be ‘discovered’ for a LONG time.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I am usually pretty proud of whatever I am in and if something goes wrong or unexpected just weave it into the show! but well……was in a play in the east-south-west-north village in New York the theatre had a seating capacity of 17 I think? It was a new play and I played a human clone (myself and the other actor played 12 characters). We were the last ‘2’ people on earth. I think I was just 21 the entire play was….the most embarrassing that ever happened, I didn’t think I let my then boyfriend (my then late husband) see it! Although one of my clones had a moustache that would not stay put that’s always funny.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
The list is pretty long but top few…..Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Nia Varlados, Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, Emily V Gordon. They are all clever as hell, funny as hell, great performers, great writers and I’m sure pretty awesome people. They all somehow have figured out who they are sooner than I did and have had killer careers so far.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Yes I run my lines at least 1 time through. I play a few rock and roll songs on my uke and try to stand on my head for at a few minutes. I also have been known to take some tips from Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. I have read when they are feeling insecure or nerveous they just say ‘this isn’t about YOU get it together BEOTCH’ and they are right, it’s about giving to the audience. Hey I’m only good at like 3 things, one of them is baking. By the way these cookies I mean biscuits are really good.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Where do I start! I have a bunch of friends performing Adéle Anderson Fascinating Aida is doing a cabaret it will be MARVELOUS I saw another incarnation of the show in London and she is just a dame. Zoe Lyons is fantastically funny, we ALMOST worked on a project together. Desiree Burch, who is from my brief stand-up comedy days in New York, she deserves all the good stuff coming to her – she is hilarious as all hell! Also another friend Christina Murdock has a show about growing up with a severely disabled sibling – we’ve had a lot of urgent whatsapp calls discussing what the poster should say! And a million other shows I’ll go see when I’m not flyering for people to come to mine!

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
Well you CAN see 999 of the other shows because mine is ONLY 50 minutes! But really Death, Dating and I Do is funny, raw and I hit difficult subjects square on the nose through comedy. What I speak about is specific but universal! I address bereavement, who hasn’t lost someone and felt lost? I speak about being thrown into modern dating, which ANY single person can identify with. Lastly I try to convey no matter what happens there is not hallmark card ending, but could be something even more wonderful. This has been comforting and inspiring to people and I am glad. At the previews in New York a widower come over after the show and said ‘Grief is no laughing matter until you see the funny side, thanks.’


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