A scathing political satirist, Barry was one of the founding fathers of the exploding Boston comedy scene of the 70’s and 80’s. He ran the city’s first full time comedy club out of a Chinese restaurant in Cambridge called The Ding Ho helping to launch the careers of Steven Wright, Lenny Clarke, Kevin Meaney, Jack Gallagher, Tom Kenny, Bobcat Goldthwait, and many others. He also encouraged and influenced comedians such as David Cross, Patton Oswalt, and Margaret Cho. Respected for his blistering takedown of hypocrisy, Barry opened for musical acts such as Jackson Browne, Billy Bragg, and Bill Morrissey. His fans ranged from Kurt Vonnegut, Bill Hicks, Noam Chomsky to Jerry Lewis.
In 1993, Barry proudly accepted the Courage of Conscience Award from Howard Zinn on behalf of the Peace Abbey. As an abuse survivor, he was an outspoken advocate for those who needed a voice. In 1995, Barry testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee where he took AOL to task for their lax policies on child pornography trading and profiteering on their service which led to them changing their policies.
Barry wrote for The Boston Phoenix and authored the book “Never Shake Hands With a War Criminal”. His comedy album “Kill the Messenger” was loved by many and was a critical success. As a national headliner, Barry appeared on several TV shows including “Conan”, “HBO’s Young Comedians Special”, and “Evening at the Improv”. As a television writer, he wrote for “The Dennis Miller Show” and “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”.
In 2015, Barry was the subject of Bobcat Goldthwait’s award winning documentary entitled “Call Me Lucky” where he recounted his life in comedy, activism, and victory over personal struggles. Later that year he became a member of The Friars Club. In 2016, he released his first comedy special “Whatever Threatens You”. An album of the same name was released in 2017.
Dear friend and comedian Robin Ince stated that “Barry was a warrior for compassion and fairness.” Writer/director/producer Judd Apatow said, “Barry touched so many lives. He gave so much of himself to help other people. I hope his life inspires others to follow his example. And he was hilarious.” Barry religiously tweeted at the pope to demand excommunication from the Catholic Church. When asked why, he replied “You gotta have a hobby.” Barry loved laughing with his wife and friends, music, dogs, and the Yankees.
A memorial ceremony for family and friends will be held at the Lodge at Welch Allyn (4355 State Street Road Skaneateles Falls, NY 13153) on March 17 at 8 p.m. to midnight. In lieu of flowers, please donate to www.gofundme.com/helenlysen
To send condolences visit: robertdgrayfuneralhome.com.