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Todd Barry talks about comedy, Theatre 99, and buying boxers in Barcelona

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Todd Barry
Aug. 14-15, 10 p.m.
$15
Theatre 99
280 Meeting St.
(843) 853-6687
TheHaveNots.com

There's this scene in the critically acclaimed Mickey Rourke film The Wrestler when the title character busts in on his boss, grocery store manager Wayne, when the poor guy is obviously doing internet research (apparently studying something involving slow moans and gyrating female forms).

It could have been a male bonding moment, but Wayne wasn't laughing. The ironic thing is that the utterly humorless Wayne was played by one of the funniest guys doing stand-up today, comedian Todd Barry.

Chalk it up to Barry's acting chops. He's played a security guard in Road Trip, a bongo-banging musician in the HBO series Flight of the Conchords, and ordinary Joes aplenty on Sex in the City, Chappelle's Show, Spin City, and The Larry Sanders Show. Along the way, he's also played comedy stages and festivals from NYC to the Netherlands. Next on the itinerary: two nights of stand-up comedy at Theatre 99 in Charleston.

When we caught up with Barry for a Q&A about his upcoming show, he was wrapping up a trip to Dublin and Barcelona. We tried to get him on the phone, but he is notoriously phone shy. He asked if we could do the interview via e-mail. We figured, hey, why not? What's the point of having this newfangled tech if we don't use it every now and again?

CITY PAPER: What inspired you to become a comedian?

TODD BARRY: I started in Florida after college. I just got the urge to try it, so I signed up for an open-mic night at a local comedy club, and I haven't really stopped since.

CP: You get a lot of offers to perform in various places. What made you say, "Oh, yeah!" to Theatre 99?

TB: I actually came to them. I'd heard good things about it, and I want to start adding more theaters into my schedule, even if they're little ones.

CP: How cool was it to work with Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler?

TB: It was a bit surreal. I've always loved his work, so when I found out all my scenes were with him, I freaked out. In a good way.

CP: Yeah, and you got to be his boss, Wayne. What was it like to get inside of Wayne's head?

TB: I haven't done a lot of acting, but it seems a disproportionate amount of the roles I get are jerks who work at a store. So I've had a bit of practice.

CP: The "Receipt Museum" on your website, in which you post various receipts from your day-to-day life — i.e. lunch receipts, etc. — and comment on them is bloody brilliant. Agree?

TB: I do agree. It's "brilliant." I don't know if it is, actually, but people seem to like it. And if I don't update it frequently, people complain. Well, maybe three people have complained. I just did a redesign of my site. It was done by the same guy who does the websites for The White Stripes, The Shins, and lots of other bands.

CP: Recently on Twitter, you mentioned that you bought boxer shorts in Barcelona. Why did you choose to buy boxers there instead of in Dublin?

TB: I ran out of clean laundry. Here's an interesting twist to the story: when I got back to my hotel and opened the package, it turned out they weren't boxers, they were these awful skimpy Speedo cut briefs. I left them in the hotel. Hopefully the housekeeper has a son with different taste in underwear than me.

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