By Ken Williams | Editor
Barry Shingle was a good little Catholic, even an altar boy, but he never got into his parish’s favorite pastime: bingo.
Flash forward to his adult years, and Shingle is now known far and wide for his popular “Bingo with Barry” act at the swanky Rancho la Puerta spa in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico.
Shingle will bring “Bingo with Barry” to Uptown on June 6 as a fundraiser for the San Diego Indoor Sports Club in Bankers Hill. The fun evening will raise money for the repainting of the club at 3030 Front St. The club will soon be renamed Bankers Hill Clubhouse after the makeover.
The fundraiser will begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour showcasing the expansive views of San Diego Bay and Point Loma. Visitors can also tour the building, which has been a “home away from home” to the disabled community since the 1950s. Bingo will begin at 7 p.m. with Shingle at the helm.
A resident of Hillcrest when he is not working at Rancho la Puerta as the resort’s activity director, Shingle says he never intended to be one of the funniest men in bingo.
“When I started working at Rancho La Puerta 15 years ago, they punished the new employees by making them do bingo,” Shingle said. “I was raised Catholic (even an alter boy) but I do not care for the game itself.
“I have always been very sarcastic and quick-witted and so I started slowly using that in bingo. Trying different jokes, and within a year it took on a life of its own. It is the most-attended evening event at the resort and I do it once a week.”
Another quirky hit are the collectible T-shirts featuring characters created by Shingle.
“Every year our artist comes up with a cartoon character of me doing bingo and it is one of the prizes that the guests can win. Some guests buy them to have a collection. My favorite T-shirt was a few years back — it has skinny me in a speedo looking in a full length mirror and the reflection coming back in the mirror is a ripped body builder with my face; the caption is ‘Bingo with Barry; objects may be bigger than they appear.’ There was also one with my face on Clint Eastwood’s poster: caption — ‘Go ahead, make Barry’s day,’” Shingle said.
So what can the audience expect when Shingle performs at the Bankers Hill fundraiser?
“I have a comedy plan going into bingo, but my favorite humor comes from material the audience gives me on the spot. I really love to play off the audience and be in the moment,” Shingle said.
“Sometimes at the resort, guests will give me material to use on their friends. I take a rip out of the audience and if you do it with kindness they love it.”
Shingle’s comedy probably would make the parish priest blush.
“My bingo is billed as PG-13, and I do use naughty humor and sexual innuendos. The trick is to know what lines not to cross. I find that trying to change the way I do it for a particular audience does not work. I know what I do well and what works and I stick to that formula. When I am hired to do private events I will incorporate material they give me into the act, but I don’t change the flavor. It’s about timing and delivery,” he said.
Shingle has lived in North Park and Hillcrest since he moved to San Diego in 2000 to take the job in Tecate. He has become hooked on the area.
“I love this area,” Shingle said. “Everything I need is within walking distance. Since I live in Mexico Monday through Friday, I love being right in the middle of everything on my weekends.”
—Ken Williams is Editor of Uptown News and Mission Valley News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-961-1952.