Todd Barry's low-key act began on drums 

The frowning funnyman started his stage career keeping time

Perpetually worried-looking comedian and actor Todd Barry returns to Charleston for a two-nighter at Theatre 99. But will he pull a cover of "Little Black Egg" out of the hat?

The New York-based stand-up comic is pretty cool. He switches moods, but only very subtly. He's calm and confident on the microphone at one moment, seemingly uncomfortable and sarcastic at others. His slightly cranky, amusingly annoyed expression barely changes, though. It's all part of his hilarious act. Maybe.

Theatre 99 booked Barry for a two-night stint on Aug. 14-15. "He is definitely one of the hottest stand ups in N.Y.C. right now," say the venue's core managers in The Have Nots!. "The intimacy of Theatre 99 is going to be a great setting for these shows. We have already talked to him about Comedy Festival, so hopefully, if the shows go well, he'll come back and maybe tell some of his fellow comics."

The last time Barry came to Charleston was for a gig at the Village Tavern in 2007 (he performed there in 2005, too). That season, he'd co-headlined a gig at Carnegie Hall, toured Scandinavia, and appeared as a guest character alongside Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement as the annoying "Todd, the third Conchord," on the season finale of HBO's brilliant series Flight of the Conchords.

Barry spent most of his childhood in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Before kicking off a career in comedy, he attended the University of Florida and played drums in the mid-'80s in a paisley-clad, south Florida garage band called The Chant.

I pulled my vinyl copy of The Chant's 1985 album Three Sheets to the Wind out of the collection this week (see photo), and there was Barry on the back cover, skinny with big curly hair. On the tracks, he kept time with a stiff but crisp style, and even added some nice flams to their band's rendition of vintage garage band The Nightcrawlers' "Little Black Egg." Could it be that Barry's unassuming manner and sharp observational approach germinated during his early musical career behind the kit? Maybe ... holler out for some Chant drum fills at Theatre 99 for good measure either way.



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