Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Interview: Health Worker Turned Comedian Angela Barnes Aims Her Funny Bones At Topical Comedy Ahead Of Date @ Brighton Komedia

Angela Barnes is just about fed up of the news! She's anxious, she's depressed and she's fatigued. 

Bored of Brexit, tired of Trump and knackered by North Korea. The world is going to hell in a handcart and Angela, a natural pessimist, is fed up of commentating on it all as it happens.

Angela's new show is called Rose-Tinted, which suggests Angela Barnes is a glass-half-full kind of woman. 

Yet the stand-up, while being bright and cheery in person, admits to being a pessimist. 

"I come from a family of pessimists, so maybe it rubbed off," she says with a laugh. 

"But yes, I get accused of being world weary and it's a pretty fair assessment."

The show's theme came about, she says, after spending much of the past two years doing topical comedy shows – as presenter of Radio 4's Newsjack and a regular on The News Quiz, as well as appearances on BBC1's Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo.

"Doing those shows you have to be across the news and read a lot of newspapers. 

"The last two years have been an exciting time politically but it does get you down, writing jokes every week about Donald Trump, Brexit and North Korea. For a lot of people 2016 was an awful year.

"Career wise, though, things took off for me in 2016, and I was being offered all this TV and radio work, so there was this strange disconnect between the personal and professional and I wanted to dig into that." 


But she makes no claims about solving the world's woes. 

"I'm a clown. If you're looking for me to present solutions you've made a terrible mistake. I can't solve a Rubik's Cube.

"I want my audience to go away thinking, 'Thank God that's not me'. By looking at my idiotic life you can feel better about yours."

With her career bump came another level of fame. 

"I knew it would happen, and I knew social media stuff would happen - Twitter is just a human bin fire of negativity - and I would get horrible things [being said] if I dared to be a woman with an opinion on telly.

"I had a bit of a wobble and had to question if it was what I wanted. 

"So I wanted to do a show about the good stuff happening where I least tried to look on the brighter side because the world feels doomed at the moment to so many people. 

"I wanted to look at whether I could put on my rose-tinted glasses and see it differently." 


Rose-Tinted also addresses the advent of the #MeToo movement in 2017, a response to the daily misogyny that women experience, and in the show Angela describes her own upsetting #MeToo moment on the Tube in London in 2016.

"I realised that all women have their own story, but it was #Me Too that that made us start talking about that stuff with our men," Angela says. 

"My partner is one of the good guys - it hadn't occurred to me that this stuff doesn't happen in front of them, so they don't witness it.

"I don't beat my audience over the head with it, but telling my own experience is also about saying thank you to the good guys."

The Tube experience and the murder of young Australian comic Eurydice Dixon when she walked home from a gig in Melbourne last year sparked a need to do something positive. 

So Angela, together with fellow stand-ups Sameena Zehra and Pauline Eyre, set up the Home Safe Collective at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe. She explains how it came about.

"A WhatsApp group of female comics started talking about what practical thing we could do. 

"We set up a taxi account with a company that uses police-checked drivers and we got about £5,000 from donations, so any female comic could use the service if she didn't want to walk home from a gig late at night and couldn't afford the fare."

The initiative was recognised with the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Awards panel prize, which is worth £5,000. 

"It was such a wonderful surprise, and fantastic to receive it – and the prize means we can do Home Safe again this year without fund-raising," the comic says.

Angela, who worked in health and social care for more than ten years before she became a stand-up, says starting in comedy later than most means that – despite her natural pessimism - she really appreciates what she has. 

"I have the best job in the world because I know what it's like to have a proper job, to commute during the rush hour, to work really hard to fill someone else's pockets, to go through the daily slog."

She adds that turning forty has been liberating. 

"I've got less time to spend worrying about things I can't control. 

"I think when you're younger you think you can take on the problems of the world. 

"I used to have real problems with anxiety but now I think: if I can't change it, I don't worry about it."

Writing Rose-Tinted has had an unexpected side effect, she says. 

"My partner is an ultra runner [running distances longer than a marathon] but I've always rejected any exercise. 

"So I thought I would try and I started running, and found it was helping my state of mind.

"I sort of sneered at exercising before, but annoyingly it turns out that it really does raise your endorphin levels and makes you feel better, so I'm going to have to keep doing it."

Angela often takes part in a ParkRun (which take place on Saturdays at 9am), so you may see her at your local event. 

"For a comic to achieve anything before 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning is amazing, and that feeling of having achieved something carries you through the weekend.

"Exercising won't solve the world's problems, but it clears your brain and allows you to see the roses growing through the s---." And then she checks herself.

"It was a horrible discovery to make because I wanted to be able to justify being lazy for the rest of my life."

Angela Barnes' 'Rose-Tinted' at Brighton Komedia on 23rd October 2019. For tickets CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley & Veronica Lee




Share    


Miss Represented, Brighton Dome's award winning creative learning project, has received a grant of £44,200 from the Youth Endowment Fund to support young women in Brighton & Hove.

United We Stream Brighton continues to showcase some of the city's best local artists and venues to help raise money for local charities and to keep the city's nightlife alive.

Taking place at the British Airways i360 venue on Brighton's beachfront, the award-winning Brighton Music Conference is set to return to the city this coming autumn.
Credit Olivia Rose

Mercury Prize 2020 shortlisted Kiwanuka looks inward and out, across widescreen sonic landscapes constructed in recording studios in London, Los Angeles and New York, and provides a showcase for the honey-poured mahogany of Michael Kiwanuka's voice.
Credit Phoebe Wingrove

Displayed across the suburbs of Brighton, a new work - A Simple Act of Wonder - by artists Walter & Zoniel celebrates human connection and our experiences of joy in unprecedented times.

An ambitious vision to help boost nature and drive a green economic recovery has been unveiled by the South Downs National Park Authority and partners.

A Virtue is the new single from Popcorn Fiend, and the second track to be lifted from the Scottish musician's debut album Distance, which occupies a space somewhere between the industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails and the melodic synth-pop of Chvrches.
Credit Alberta Whittle

Photoworks Festival is the reshaping of one of the UK's longest running photography festivals - Brighton Photo Biennial - and is an idea developed by Shoair Mavlian, Director, Photoworks, which asks what a photography festival can be and who they are for. 

Blake Auden is a writer, poet and graphic artist living in Hove. Inspired by his love for war poetry as a child, Blake's debut collection Tell the Birds She's Gone has sold out twice and has gained an ever-growing fan base of over 90,000 people.

Oska Bright Film Festival, the world's leading learning disability film festival based in Brighton, takes its programme to the small screen with Oska Bites, regular programmes of award-winning short films.

Bastille's new song, which features Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, might feel like a bit of a surprise release, not least to the band themselves, but as frontman Dan Smith says: “We finished the song and it felt urgent. We didn't want to sit on it.”

Quintet Junodream are drawing on a wider palette of sounds for new single Easy Life, with post-rock and modern prog blending into their expansive mix of shoegaze and psychedelia. 
Credit Jack McKain

Bedroom soul artist cehryl came to the United States from her native Hong Kong to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston and post-college found herself in Los Angeles forming a tight-knit scene with friends Zack Villere, Mulherin, Dijon, Alex Szotak and Soft Glas.

Brighton-based singer-songwriter and all-round alt-pop fireball Oz's debut single Money is a statement-of-intent, an uncompromising synthesis of Garbage's dark-hued rock/electronica crossover with the bass-heavy zest of contemporary alt-pop. 

Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd