Actor / EntertainerHello my name is David Joyner and I played Barney the Dinosaur for over a decade on the Hit TV Series, Barney and Friends. AMA!
Mar 25th 2017 by barneybody22 • 53 Questions • 7521 Points
I played the character between 1991 and 2001. After leaving the show in 2001 and moving to Los Angeles, I continued doing Barney performances, personal appearances and training other Barneys in other countries." I'm also the body of the Hippest Bear in the world, Hip Hop Harry. The Hip Hop Rapping, Break Dancing Teddy Bear.
Hey, when it's time for clean up clean up everybody everywhere I am clearly doing more than my share. Any advice on how to not to resent their lazy butts?
Ask them to do there share.
I'm another David Joyner, and I just had to tell you: 6-year-old me was so unbelievably excited to see my own name in the credits for my favorite show. I went as Barney for Halloween three years running because I thought I was supposed to be Barney -- my name was right there after all! So thank you for, by sheer coincidence, making my childhood a little more magical.
Now my question: any suggestions on winning my ongoing battle to be on the front page of the Google search listings for my own name? You've had a monopoly on it for a while ;)
hahahaha. I wish I could help you out there. But I not sure I can.
Hello, David! Early '90s baby here. I still turn the water off when I brush my teeth because of you. You were also on my third birthday cake. Honestly, Barney was probably the most normal part of my childhood, so thanks for kinda-sorta being there. How do you feel knowing you were such a huge part of so many kids' lives?
My mother actually has a question for you too: were you ever tempted to throat-punch Baby Bop?
It's a very humbling feeling. And knowing you are the next generation of super star adults. I love it.
Tell you mom, there were some times when I would have an Ally Mcbeal moment. LOL
Do you ever catch yourself unintentionally saying or doing something like Barney would?
ALL THE TIME!!!! I always wanted to be one with Barney. Not just an actor playing the character, but to really embrace every moment of being Barney. So there were many times where I would find myself doing and saying Barney things outside of the costume. LOL
What was your least favorite thing about playing the character over a decade? Any on-set debacles or arguments that made you think it was time to call it quits pre-2001?
Well the reason I called it quits in 2001 is because I knew it was time to move on to do other acting. I always wanted to move to Los Angeles and this was the best time.
There was a moment that I remember that really upset the chemistry of myself and Bob West. I had just order this new car from the Mazda Factory. A 1993 3rd Generation RX-7. Not too many people had them at the time. Mine was Black and beautiful. 3 months later, Bob West buys a red one. I was so mad.... Our friendship bond was shaken. I know it may not seem like a big deal to some, but it meant a lot at the time. And of course there were some other things that happened between us before that moment. But I won't go into detail. LOL
Yes. I've kept in touch with some of them. Some of them were also some of my acting students. While I doing the show, I was also an acting coach at an acting school in Dallas, TX. Young Actors Studio, ran by Linda Seto. It is the best acting school for kids and teens. http://www.youngactors.org/staff/ I taught there for 9 years. I would work as Barney in the day and teach Mon, Wed nights and all day Sat. Some of the kids in the school had no idea their acting coach was Barney. LOL
What was most difficult about playing the Barney character?
Knowing that there some people out there who didn't let their kids watch Barney because they found out that I was a black man. Yes, it was the KKK. They banded their kids from watching the show. Also there were some preachers in the southeast who thought Barney was a New Age Cult because he appeared from a Tire swing. Crazy, I know.
If you could turn back time and relive those years as Barney, what would you do differently?
I wouldn't do one thing different. Being Barney has been a big part of my life. Plus I wouldn't be Hip Hop Harry without being Barney 1st.
Was it also you singing the songs? Some of them still get stuck in my head to this day.
I was the body. A guy named, Bob West did the voice. Of course I had to memorize all the songs, though.
Was there ever a moment where you knew that taking that job was the right decision? Or anything that particularly moved you during the job?
I'm a very spiritual person and I'm always receiving wonderful messages from God and the Universe. The night before the audition I had a dream that Barney had passed out and I had to give him mouth-to-mouth. The next morning on my way to the audition, I saw a billboard that read, BREATH LIFE INTO YOUR VACATION. When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a the same advertisement. It was then I realized what my dream meant. I needed to breath life into Barney like never before. And that's what I did. Once that happened, I knew I had the gig. Even though it was offered to a young lady before me. Well she didn't work out too well.
Do you have any behind the scenes photos from the show such as this?
Wow!!!!! That just brought back so many memories. Who is this and where did you get that photo? Awww.... Heather....RIP
How long did it take to get in the suit? Once in, how long on average did you have to stay inside? What kind of complications did being in the suit bring up for you?
It takes about 10 mins to get into the Barney suit. It takes about 30 mins to get into Hip Hop Harry. Once in, I can stay in for about 4 hrs or more. Depending on the situations. Sight is the biggest complication. I see out of the mouth and when the mouth is closed, I see nothing. When I am moving the mouth, it's like having a strob light. So I would practice being blind. To feel the energy around me.
It was pretty funny.
What were some of the more rewarding experiences you had playing the Barney character?
Being able to travel the world. I Love It. Meeting many different people of all different nationalities. It was amazing.
Did you ever face any backlash from the rest of the children's television community as a result of your sudden popularity?
Oh yeah. After our 1st season on PBS, we were cancelled. The new Program Director of PBS was a major supporter of Sesame Street. We did a grassroots campaign to get Barney back on the air. Thus increasing the number of fans
I truly believe in having fun on set. It keeps the atmosphere very light and happy.
I just want you to know that as an un-wed, teenage, brand new mother in 1992, your show helped me cope, deal, and teach my daughter all kinds of shit. She absolutely LOVED you and you were ALWAYS on our channel, Sesame Street had nothing on you. Having said that, my question for you is, did you ever get any kind of residual for products? My daughter lived in a Barney bedroom for about 5 years and still has her Barney pillowcase that she saved and she's 24! Thank you for being Barney, we love you.
No residuals on the products. Only on the videos and TV series.
Did you keep the suit? Follow-up question: Do you use it to fight crime?
No I did not keep the suit.
Was it awkward for you to perform with different voice actors after so many years with Mr. West?
Yes, yes, yes. Bob and I knew each other very well. We had a coined phrase, "Dino Sync" Plus I was use to his non scripted responses. There was an adjustment and coaching period I had to go through with the other voices.
Hello Mr. Joyner,
What was the average day like on set?
Thanks for doing this! :)
Because you're working with children, the time was important. So everyone had to be ready. We had a lot of fun on set, and it was truly like being with family. Both cast and crew. I must say, we also had some the best writers in the business.
On a serious note, what's one regret about playing Barney?
Seriously..... I have none. Not one. I loved playing such an amazing character. And now I love playing Hip Hop Harry.
Do you still have fun brushing your teeth? Do you ever let the water run?
Yes and I never let the water run.
The suit weighs 70lbs and it could get over 120°.
As a child I always felt really bad when kids would make up songs about killing or otherwise maiming Barney because I knew there was a real human in there and I guess I worried it would hurt your feelings. So my childhood self compels me to ask: how did you feel about children mocking and sometimes downright hating you?
It doesn't feel good. I don't like it. All we were trying to do is spread love and joy to children all over the world. But sometimes love and joy is what some people can't handle. So they try to bring it down.
While Playing as Barney, Was it easy or hard for Barney Playing the Keyboard during the song Good Manners as Shown Here? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHeSNwuky4g
I am also a musician. As well as an actor. So I was able to make it look really easy. That was a lot of fun. I always loved being able to make Barney look like a real person in some of his manners and actions.
I never knew the target audiwnce was 2 year olds. I started watching when I was 6 and loved it! Thank you for making after school special!
You are very welcome. Thank you for watching.
Hi David! Just wanted to tell you were great as Barney, easily the best of the other people in the costume (no offense to the others of course).
My question: after you left the series, were there any changes to the show you weren't very fond of? For example, Barney's new voice (Dean Wendt) or the addition of Riff (BJ and Baby Bop's cousin). Thanks :)
I was always a fan of Bob's voice as Barney. That is what I was use to. Not offense to Dean, who did an amazing job. But he's no Bob West. Those are some pretty big shoes there. I wasn't a fan of some of the simple choreography on the show after I left. I felt the performance level was less. Not a fan of Riff.
When in costume how big of a deal was it to take a bathroom break?
It was pretty easy to get out. There were a few times when getting out to use the restroom was not an option. There was one occasion during the Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans when I was on the float and I need to go really bad. The costume wrangler pushed a Gatorade bottle up the crouch opening of the costume and I had to aim, use, put on the lid, hand it back to her, all while waving and dancing on the float. That was a pretty cool thing to do. Very impressive I must say. LOL
You Know What is my Favorite Barney Home Video when I was a kid? The 1994 Spacial Imagination Island that Feature Barry Pearl Playing Professor Tinkerputt :)
That was a great video to shoot. And Barry and I are still great friends
What kind of maintenance was needed for the costumes? In scenes where you had to get the outfits dirty or wet like this one, how did you avoid ruining the fabric?
We had a few costumes on stand by. And like any fabric, just let it dry. We would spray the insides with alcohol to kill the bacteria.
Did you enjoy shooting the scenes involving children's games (like London Bridge and Ring Around the Rosie), even though you'd have to do them multiple times?
Yes. I loved them all. There was one director who loved doing a lot of takes, so somethings we would get a little frustrated on so many takes.
Were the ponies scared of you in your costume? I always wonder when Barney and animals are in the same shot.
No. It's about about energy. Animals feel energy and they love a person with calm energy.
Were there adults present when the name BJ was chosen for Baby Bop's brother or whatever he was?
BJ was named after the creators family member.
If you could change one thing about Barney, what would it be? Also, thanks for the childhood!
I wouldn't change a thing. I could ask you the same question as a fan watching Barney. The biggest key to being Barney was making sure I was prepped and ready to be in the costume for long periods of time. Plus I always had to have a big smile in my heart in order to share that love of Barney to everyone.
How does the Barney costume work? Also, how did you put the costume on?
That's a trade secrete.
when y'all would do "where is thumpkin" did it get akward doing the "tall man" (middle finger) part?
Hahaha.... Of course. But I tried to make it look cool wearing oven mitts. LOL
Theoretically, how much does one make, dressing up as an extinct species, going on adventures with children, and coming up with arts and crafts projects?
You really made my childhood man, my mom would wake me up before school every day and watch it with me, some of my favorite memories growing up. How did your parents react to your acting career? Any stories? Thank you!
My parents were very proud. After taping the 1st season on PBS, I went home for Christmas and my mom called the local news paper to tell them I was in town. A reporter showed up at our door for an interview.
Hello Mr. Joyner! Its great that the you as the guy who wore the suit for one of America's most famous kid hosts is now open for this one day talk. So:
- What was the most memorable fan reaction you have ever witnessed?
- What was it like meeting with Sheryl Leach (Barney Creator)
I was making an appearance in a hospital in Mexico City and this little boy had a brain tumor. It was very big and he had a really hard time lifting his head. When I, Barney came into his room, He wanted to jump out of his bed he was so excited. All the doctors and nurses was amazed at what he was able to do. It was very moving.
That's real cool you did that considering they could have stuck anybody in the costume.
I always believed I was spiritually chosen to be Barney.
why did you choose to be a purple dinossaur at a educational cartoon? btw we need a barney movie remake (the power rangers are doing it)!
Barney's color was decided long before I came into the picture.
They did different color test with 2 year old children and more children like the color purple over all the other colors.
Do you actually ever own a Barney Collection of your own just like the Barney Fans here? Here is my collection https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.crispo/videos/1188809261151288/ https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.crispo/media_set?set=a.1169600093072205.1073741833.100000666777002&type=3
Hello Big Jeremy: Good to see you here. My collection couldn't hold a candle stick to yours. Well done sir...