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Interviews

Barb Jungr: Smart, Sassy, Sexy

By Published: March 23, 2010
AAJ: Onstage, it is not that you put on a persona. What is onstage is you, isn't it?

BJ: I think that is true of everyone.

AAJ: Amy Winehouse? There are people who almost put on a different persona when they go onstage.

BJ: I don't know. It came up yesterday on this Woman's Hour thing, with this whole thing of working on the alternative cabaret circuit. And I do think that was my training ground; I think I learned so much there. And everything that people did there...I count among people I work with and know some of the greats who are now on television. They are all people who you see something of them on stage. You may not see all of it, but there is not a huge difference; there is a real connecting thread between Paul Merton-funny on Have I Got News For You and "Paul Merton sat beside you in a pub after a Julian [Clary] gig." There is a direct line. It is not like, "My goodness. I would never have thought it." There is not that, and I think maybe that something that came from that was... I remember Ivor Dembina—who has taught a lot of young comics and is a really, really nice man—saying to me, very early on this was, when you go onstage don't do anything, just be yourself and tell people things. That was a real gift, what he said, because that is enough actually. Just go on there and tell people things—that is enough; you don't have to make a big effort. I think that whole thing which maybe is what you are talking about, if I think about it, is what I see a lot in America, this whole scripted-by-someone-else thing. I hate it. I don't want to hear that. I like it if I know the person has written it. I went to see Carrie Fisher's show, which is called Wishful Drinking and she is a great writer. She has obviously written her own text and it is her, and it is fantastic. The same with Elaine Stritch, it is her. You are getting her, you are not getting somebody else. Somebody else may have helped shape it, somebody else may have directed it but you are getting them. That is what I want if I'm watching somebody, I want them

AAJ: With you it seems that it is not scripted—obviously it isn't, you just take it as it comes. You talk about the people on the train the day before with a pit bull terrier and all of that. It is almost like a blog where people just tell you what has happened in their day.

BJ: But it is true. I don't say anything on stage that isn't true, that I haven't experienced or that someone has told me. It is a real part of life. I think that is what makes it interesting and relevant.

AAJ: It seems like what you would say to someone if you were chatting to them. "I was on the train..." and there it is. And you are doing it to an audience. It is almost like a conversation with them, except that they don't converse back.

BJ: Every so often, somebody does. I do get the odd person who'll heckle or communicate something. Which I think is quite courageous, actually.

AAJ: It'd be a brave person who'd heckle you, Barb. Good grief.

BJ: I have this marvelous friend who is Danish, and he can get slightly pissato. And one time, suddenly for no reason at all, he shouted something like "Blue Tuna" and the whole audience was completely nonplussed as indeed was I. I knew it was him. He was so thrilled with himself that he'd done this great heckle, afterwards he said sorry but just that he thought it was funny. I went, "I know. I know you did." I had to say to the audience, "It's a friend of mine. Don't worry about it. He's Danish." And they laughed, because of the "He's Danish."

Selected Discography

Barb Jungr, The Men I Love: The New American Songbook (Naim, 2010)

Barb Jungr/Christine Collister/Helen Watson/Michael Parker, Hell Bent Heaven Bound: Money The Final Frontier (Stereoscout, 2009)
Barb Jungr, Just Like a Woman: A Hymn to Nina (Linn, 2008)
Barb Jungr, Walking in the Sun (Linn, 2006)
Barb Jungr, Love Me Tender (Linn, 2005)
Barb Jungr, Waterloo Sunset (Linn, 2003)
Jonathan Cooper, The Moon Behind the Clouds (Self-produced, 2002)
Barb Jungr, Every Grain of Sand (Linn, 2002)
Barb Jungr, Chanson: The Space in Between (Linn, 2000)
Barb Jungr, Bare (Irregular Records, 1999)

Various, Ne me quitte pas: the songs of Jacques Brel (Irregular Records, 1998)


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