Barry Diamond



The Face


BARRY DIAMOND, AMERICA's latest tough-talking, taboo-smashing, minority-mocking comedian attempts a self-portrait: "I'm 5' 9", dark haired, Caucasian, swarthy ... Mediterranean features. I'm an actor-comedian. When it's at its best it doesn't look like an act. When it's at its best it isn't an act."

Nine years of making people laugh for a living has either liberated the real Barry Diamond or scrambled his mind into a multitude of tangled egos. His humour is founded in people – stereotypes and actual types. "I was born in the Bronx. My environment was blacks, Puerto Ricans,, junkies, homosexuals. I draw from the experiences and attitudes of these people and project them into my show."

After schooldays worthy of Buster Keaton and a college spell in the redneck haven of Alabama, Diamond spent two years failing to sell insurance before becoming a regular stand-up comic in the fun-houses of the Big Apple. There followed parts in such B-grade ticklers as National Lampoon's Class Reunion, Get Crazy and the soon to appear Bachelor Party.

But in performance is where the Diamond sparkles. I usually don't know what I'm going to say until I hit the stage. I have hunks of material that 1 scatter through the set but I might create a whole new show right there. If the elements are right, improvisationally it can be a lot of fun."

Diamond's cutting characterisations have been lapped up Stateside but here his tales of being raised by black Hassidic Jews from the Philippines and gays whale hunting in Hawaii have led to allegations of racism and sexism. "A lot of people have misinterpreted what I do. It's something that's representative of a type of person everybody knows. I know in my heart I'm not racist or sexist."

The fact that he's played to all-black and all-gay clubs and lived, would tend to back up his claim. The heightened UK profile stems from his live "Fighter Pilot" LP released through Miles Copeland's IRS label. The rock tycoon saw a Diamond show in Los Angeles and "laughed his arse off." The ensuing liaison has also led to a role in a new Central TV programme Rebellious Jukebox: Diamond plays a club drunk.

As for the vinyl, 75 per cent is reckoned out of date and a newer repertoire includes Europe and nuclear war. "All Americans should send a letter to the USSR saying Dear Chairman, you fat bastard, when are you going to lead your people into the 20th century and forget this mindless communism thing. Take a look around you, take a look at yourself, take another look around you ... boo!



mick sinclair

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