Barry Hilton, one of South Africa’s biggest names in comedy, will be performing in Qatar this weekend! Hilton is a seasoned comedian who is as streetwise as any youngster and can take a seemingly monotonous daily situation and turn it into a hilarious bit that will have you rolling in the aisles.
He’s an experienced and versatile comedian who has had quite a colorful career, having done several stand-up comedy shows, appeared in TV commercials and acquired an international fan-base— not limited by nationality age or race, by touring a number of countries around the world!
Read our interview below as we talk to Barry Hilton to know what goes on behind the scenes and in the mind of a renowned comedian!
ILQ: You’ve had quite a long career in comedy, having done commercials, television and of course, movies like Finding Lenny and all the standup shows you’ve done! We’d love to know what it takes to be a successful comedian and a little about your journey!
What was it like to play the lead in a movie after having had gigs as a stand-up comedian? Was it difficult not having a live audience encouraging you while you performed or did it put less pressure on you to be able to have retakes?
Barry Hilton: Filming Finding Lenny was a fantastic experience. I’d done plenty of television commercials before the movie came along and so I was used to the camera. The director was so easy and because he allowed everyone on set to be themselves, we didn’t have many retakes. When I was doing my lines, the rest of the cast was my audience. When I adlibbed and they responded, it energized and helped me.
The movie was shown at a couple of festivals around the world and as the lead, I travelled to Hollywood and Italy to attend the gala events! Being part of the movie was a phenomenal experience and I’d definitely do it again should the opportunity arise.
ILQ: Tell us a little about the pressure you feel while on stage. After all the laughs throughout the years, do you ever worry that your audience might not laugh or do you just shrug it off?
BH: I always worry that I will fail. I feel sick to my stomach before each and every show. My self-confidence plunges to the worst depths. Fortunately, my will to succeed overcomes my fear.
ILQ: How do the people around you inspire you for content? Do you ever look to your kids’ lifestyles for inspiration?
BH: My children and people in general say and do weird things. As a comic, I see things on a different level. I have six kids, I kid you not, and they provide endless content for my shows. And it’s content everyone can relate to, either they have kids or know people with kids and they obviously were kids at a stage.
ILQ: Do you think anyone can be a stand-up comedian? Could I just practice for years and get the hang of it, or is it something that comes naturally?
BH: Do the mathematics. In South Africa there are 60 million people but at any given time there are only 60 people capable of playing for the national rugby team, the Springboks. But anybody can play rugby. (Except the springboks— lol).
I could never be a brain surgeon, but I have been blessed with a talent for comedy. My talent and determination have kept me going for 35 years. My career has given me much joy and I am truly grateful that I’ve been able to live my dream.
ILQ: How have your style and content changed as your audience changes?
BH: Thirty-five years ago when I started out in comedy, it was classic joke telling including Irishmen. But in 1985 I was lucky enough to open for Billy Connelly for four nights in Jersey and even though he is a huge star, he took the time to come talk to me in my dressing room. His advice changed my career and my life. He told me I was very funny but that I needed to stop telling jokes and start talking about life. Which I did and look where I am now, I’ll be performing in Qatar, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai next week— I must be doing something right. I’m also a huge fan of David Bowie who continuously changed his style completely. I do the same and it’s working for me. You have to change and adapt to stay relevant, I constantly evolve and that’s why I’ve called this show Evolver.
ILQ: Do you remember the best gig you’ve ever had? The one you’re proudest of.
BH: Performing my solo show at the Main Concert Hall of the iconic Sydney Opera House was undoubtedly my career highlight. I’ve worked in stunning venues across the globe, including the Royal Albert Hall, on luxury cruise liners and in Las Vegas and I’ve worked to much larger audiences, but my best show ever was at the world Renowned Sydney Opera House.
ILQ: What kind of audience are you expecting in Qatar? And lastly— do you have a word of advice for aspiring comedians in this region?
BH: I’ve performed in Qatar before. It was great and that’s why you’re having me back! I’m expecting a full house and probably a lot of expats from around the world. Everyone who understands English and enjoys laughing will have a good time.
If you are too scared to fail, don’t start. And work it from your heart not your wallet. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. The aim is to become famous, not rich.
We’re so excited to have Barry Hilton back in Qatar! Catch him at the Grand Hyatt Doha on June 30 at 9 PM for a night of endless laughter!
It’s time for an ILQ competition! We’re giving away two tickets to one winner, so you can get the opportunity to watch Barry Hilton perform live here in Qatar!
Please click here to enter!
We’ll be picking the winner on Wednesday, June 28th!
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