Chris Barnes moved from his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania to New York City in
1977. At the tender age of 17, he began his professional comedy career, doing srand-up at
Catch A Rising Star under the tutelage of Richard Belzer. Soon afterward, he took a job
working at WPIX in New York. At WPIX, he produced live concert radio shows including the
B-52's, The Police and Debbie Harry.
While the plaster was still being poured at the offices of MTV, Barnes became their first writer.
While writing commercial spots for the revolutionary music network, he also spent his time
developing pilot radio shows for Rolling Stone Radio Productions and for National Lampoon
Productions. Barnes solidified his relationships with many of the era's greatest comedians.
He became a protege of The Murrays, The Ackroyds and The Belushis.
Barnes went on to write three short films for Saturday Night Live and wrote James Belushi's
highest Q-rated piece, "Rappin Jimmy B". He also became a weekly apprentice writer/
performer at Saturday Night Live. He continued to write for the National Lampoon, Rolling
Stone and MTV. However, after getting a taste of seeing his own writing performed, Barnes
decided to learn the craft of performing sketch comedy.
Barnes moved to Chicago and began at the bottom, washing dishes, as part of the Second
City training program. At the same time, Barnes began his training under the tutelage of
Del Close, developing the long form improvisation now known as HAROLDS at the Improv
Olympic in Chicago. Barnes was a founding member of The Barons Barracudas, the first
ImprovOlympic HAROLD team. Back at Second City, Barnes quickly worked his way up
from the kitchen to the workshop, then the touring company to E.T.C., to Second City's
Mainstage and finally receiving a Jeff award for best actor. This award was presented to
him by Lily Tomlin. Together with Dave Mason, Barnes recorded "The Prez" a rap parody
of the 1984 presidential elections which became a hit novelty single.
As a result of his performance at Chicago's Second City, Barnes was chosen with Bonnie
Hunt (Jerry McGuire), Richard Kind (Spin City), Ryan Stiles (The Drew Carey Show) and
Deb Thaeker (Waiting for Guffman) to come to Los Angeles to open Second City West.
Second City's Mayfair Theatre shows, and Barnes' work in particular, were highly
acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. One network executive even hailed Barnes as
"the single most brilliant comic I have ever seen in this setting... still the driving force
behind the company - no one comes close. His range is astounding - he has the mark of
greatness about him that all major comics share ... Amazing". Dan Ackroyd, Robin Williams,
Martin Short and other top Hollywood comedians often dropped in to the late night Second
City shows and joined Barnes and his fellow members on stage to battle wits.
Barnes guest starred on television sit-coms including Who's The Boss, Seinfeld, and
Baghdad Cafe which starred Whoopi Goldberg. He also appeared in films including "Taking
Care of Business" with Jim Belushi and Triple Cross", a martial arts film in which he was
able to use his black belt karate skills. Barnes joined Carol Burnett as a cast member of
her last variety show on CBS.
Barnes has since served as Artistic Director of National Lampoon's comedy workshops
and Second City's comedy workshops. He conceived, co-produced and directed National
Lampoon's "Lemmings II"; a comedy and rock and roll jam which featured Irene Cara, Jim
Belushi and first brother, Roger Clinton. He has completed filming the National Lampoon
films, "Bikini Squad" and "National Lampoon's Last Resort". In December of 1997, Barnes
finished filming "The Florentine" in which he co-starred with Chris Penn, Michael Madsen,
Tom Sizemore, Mary Stuart Masterson, Virginia Madsen and Luke Perry. In June of 1998,
Barnes wrapped "Angels Dance" with Jim Belushi, Kyle Chandler and Sheryl Lee.
Barnes directed two stage shows for Comedy Central, "Lalapalooka", the mock rock
comedy concert, which toured both coasts and "Lemmings" starring the late Chris Farley,
Andy Richter and Tim Meadows, which ran at New York City's Bottom Line, to rave reviews.
Barnes also appeared in the MGM release of "Return To Me" starring Bonnie Hunt,
Minnie Driver and David Duchovny. Barnes has just signed a production deal with MGM
Television for a television series based on the Comedy Dojo. Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake
Currently Barnes can be seen on ABC's hit comedy series "Life With Bonnie", Tuesday
at 9pm, as Marv "The Cue Card Guy".