Barry Castagnola

Barry Castagnola

Barry Castagnola has been performing stand-up in the UK and internationally since the late Nineties – when he blagged his way onto the stage at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. He has appeared in the Channel 4 show Experimental and presented The YES/NO Gameshow on cable channel Bravo.

He is also one third of the spoof ecowarrior troupe Cyderdelic (alongside Marc Wootton and Liam Woodman), who made a six-part BBC Three series and made regular appearances on Channel 4's 11 O'Clock Show.

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Barry Castagnola: The Donny Donkins 'As (Hopefully Soon To Be) Seen On TV' Show

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

He’s a comedian with approval issues, so desperate for fame and acclaim that he spends money he hasn’t got showcasing his talent... that he also hasn’t got. In a festival full of such characters, will a parody stand out?

Barry Castagnola’s been around comedy long enough for his spoof creation, Donny Donkins to have perfectly captured the traits of the stand-up hopeful naive about his chances and his ability. He’s got a ‘five-year plan’ to make it to the top, erroneously thinks he’s ‘edgy’ when he’s just crass, and arrogantly boasts that he’s ‘Stewart Lee, merged with Bill Hicks, but more funny.’

All he needs is to be spotted, he thinks. so he’s bet the farm on this big showcase of assorted TV ideas he’s convinced will break him through to the big time, complete with cheesy jingles and painful catchphrases. ‘You’ve been Donked!’

There’s more to this than astute industry in-jokes – although that’s a big part of a show that would probably struggle to exist outside the Edinburgh bubble. The Tom Cruise interview gets off to a cracking slapstick start, whereas today’s real chat-show guest, Arthur Smith, proves game, too. We’re in Partridge territory, of course, but unlike Norwich’s finest, no one could seriously believe Donkin would ever get near a TV camera.

Presenting isn’t his only imagined talent, of course, as he delivers awkward stand-up, a tissue-thin ‘character’ act, magic tricks without the magic, a cringe-inducingly graphic mime, and a bash at topical satire filmed at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. It’s scattergun, but in keeping with Donkin’s unfocussed aim just to get on telly by whatever means.

It’s not much of a spoiler to reveal that a wheel come off proceedings with each passing segment, and Donkin does not emerge triumphant. But there’s also a sense that the comic momentum of the conceit, initially so strong, starts ebbing away too, as there’s only so many times his incompetence can score a laugh.

‘I feel I’m losing you slightly,’ Donkins – or is it Castagnola? – says around the crucial 40-minute mark, soon afterwards pleading: ‘Stay with me.’ Truth is, most sections could be tighter, as a brilliant 30-minute concept struggles to reach 60.

Donkin’s a finely observed creation, just out of his depth both in the fictional world and, to a lesser extent, the real one.

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Published: 4 Aug 2013


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DVD (2006)

Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2000


Edinburgh Fringe 2001


Edinburgh Fringe 2002

Midnight Show

Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Barry Castagnola: Mondeo Man


Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Barry Castagnola in Where's Barry?


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