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Radio 2 New Comedy Award: Winner Q&A

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Steve Saul | 15:53 UK time, Friday, 24 June 2011

Last Saturday night Angela Barnes won this year's Radio 2 New Comedy Award 2011, fending off strong competition from fellow finalists Joe Lycett, Tez Ilyas, Chris Turner, Mark Restuccia and Pat Cahill.

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We caught up with Barnsey to find out how life's been treating her the week after the final...

Congratulations on winning the BBC Radio 2 New Comedy Award. Be honest. Has success changed you?

Thank you! Those words still seem so unreal! Oh yes, I'm a proper diva now. I demand chocolate covered pretzels and freshly squeezed lychee juice at every gig. Ha!  Actually, I hope anyone that knows me would verify that I would be way too embarrassed to start getting demanding. I will tip a hairdresser that gives me a haircut that makes me cry inwardly... because I don't want to seem ungrateful.

How did you get into comedy?

How long have you got? I've always been a bit of a comedy fangirl. My parents both loved Radio Comedy, (my Dad in particular) so I grew up with The Goon Show, Round The Horne, Sorry I Haven't a Clue, etc.

Stand-up wise, my Mum was a huge Victoria Wood fan, and she was the first stand-up I saw live at The Strand theatre when I was about fourteen. I knew then that I wanted to do that. But a combination of shyness and not believing I could do it meant I didn't start until I was thirty three.

In the summer of 2008, I suddenly lost my Dad. He had always encouraged me to have a go at stand-up, knowing how much I loved it. I was so sad that I hadn't had a go while he was still alive, and, realising that life is short, I signed up to the Jill Edwards Comedy Workshop at Komedia in Brighton in 2009, and did my first proper gig in November of that year.

Any tough gigs when you started out?

Oh yes! Playing to an indifferent audience is the hardest, and, if you can raise a smile from them, then the bigger gigs are a cinch in comparison. It's all part of the process, and while it can sometimes be soul-destroying, it is the bad gigs that make you a better comic. It's a cliché, but you learn more from your mistakes.

Let’s play Worst-Best. What was the worst heckle you’ve had to deal with and what was the best?

Worst heckle? Easy. Beer Garden in a Maidstone pub on Royal Wedding Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon, free comedy, sunshine and three days of drinking. I was the only woman on the bill, and as I stepped out I got "show us yer growler'. Ah, how sweet. Actually had an alright gig in the end, but I really didn't think those sort of heckles happened in the twenty first century.

Best heckle? A woman wanting to know what brand and shade hair dye I use! There are times and places for haircare advice people!

Patrick Kielty with winner Angela Barnes

 

What was your coping strategy for the announcement of the results?

Well, I was actually dying for a wee... but as the broadcast was live, and dear Joe Lycett had been caught out earlier for being on the loo when we were called to the stage, I didn't think I had time to go. So my main concern was for my bladder at that stage. I honestly thought Joe Lycett had it in the bag, and I was extending my hand to congratulate him when I realised Patrick had said my name. An absurd state of affairs.

What next for Angela Barnes?

Career wise... who knows? I am hoping to do more radio comedy as it's very close to my heart. I have lots of meetings with people and some hopefully exciting things on the horizon.

Then there is Edinburgh. I am there with my other hat on as a techy. I am teching Death of The Novel by Gents of Leisure (Tom Neenan and Nish Kumar) which is bloomin' brilliant. I am also teching the lovely Sarah Bennetto's Storytellers' Club (a gorgeous boutique storytelling night with comedians telling you things you won't have heard before) and Comedy Countdown at the Gilded Balloon. This plus lots of live spots on different showcases makes for a pretty busy festival for me.

Bring it on!

The delightful Miss Barnes isn't the only one going to Edinburgh. Click the blue words to find out about BBC Comedy's plans for this year's Fringe Festival.

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