The Joseph & Andreas Story
At 7:45 AM on October 13th 2022, my dear friend, Joseph (41) lost his courageous battle with cancer. He is gone, but will never be forgotten. This is the story of a truly remarkable friendship.
Andreas (left) and Joseph (right). Photo: Sven de Almeida.
My name is Andreas Enehaug. I'm a Norwegian filmmaker, concept developer and sadly, but proudly the last remaining "ball'er" in the concept "Having A Ball". My buddy, Joseph and I met while attending film school together in London (2007-2010) and we've been the best of friends ever since.
I could quite literally talk about him for hours, but seeing as you have places to go and people to see, I'll try to be fairly quick.
His name was Joseph Edward Barnes. Whether you called him Joseph, Joey, Joe, or in my particular case "The Joe'ker", didn't matter to him, as long as you didn't "call him late for dinner" (which is one of his father, Larry's famous jokes).
Joe was a smooth-talking, fun-loving "dude" with a signature look, style and swagger. He was born the city of Neuchâtel, Switzerland to Canadian and Dutch parents, alongside his older brother Kevin, but according to himself he wasn't Swiss. Some people simply can't be tied down by narrow labels such as nationality. Joseph was after all larger than life (my words, not his), so just being referred to as "some Swiss guy" wouldn't really have made any sense.
I remember several people at our school in London uttering the phrase: "He's a bit of a character", and I agree with that in the best possible way. He was definitely a character. A character that made all our lives better.
I knew from the moment I laid eyes on him that I liked the guy. He strolled into the classroom on day one, as carefree as they come, sporting Elvis-sized sideburns, a musketeer'esque moustache, a trucker-hat, Ray Ban-aviators, a colourful track suit and basketball-shoes. He spoke perfect "American"-English and perfect French at the same time. "Who is this guy?" I thought. "I have to be his friend!".
And subsequently we became inseparable. Joseph was charming, funny, polite and a regular wizard when it came to the art of wordplay, jokes, playful insults and puns. What's not to love? The only one who could match him was myself. I know that sounds cocky, but he would've said the exact same thing. We were brothers from the beginning!
Joseph wrapped up all of the above mentioned qualities, accompanied by a permanent boy'ish smile in a carefully honed image that can easily be described as a mixture of Jeff Bridges' iconic role "The Dude" in Joseph's favorite movie, "The Big Lebowski", and the head of the iconic "Jackass"-squad, Mr. Johnny Knoxville. He was in other words carefree, chilled to the bone and always fun to be around.
The "swagger" also included a very impressive physical flexibility, where he among other things would wrap his legs around his neck and fall down in all sorts of hilarious ways without hurting himself. These goofy antics often led me to refer to him as a sort of modern day Charlie Chaplin/Buster Keaton-type. Or you know, a very skinny version of Chris Farley...
His favourite author and arguably biggest hero was unquestionably the legendary Stephen King. Amongst the endless quotes we exchanged over the years, he was always quick to utter (in his signature Morgan Freeman'esque voice): "Get busy living or get busy dying" (the famous quote from King's novella and "everyone's" favourite movie "The Shawshank Redemption"). Who knew that quote would be so significant?
Like myself, Joseph had an encyclopaedic knowledge about movies, TV-shows, stand-up comedy, music and all sorts of other useless pop-cultural trivia. We only had to say one word to each other, and the other would know the reference immediately. And if we occasionally happened to miss the joke, we would ask for a hint and slap our foreheads and say "Oh, I'm an idiot" when receiving the answer. Our life-long bromance was in other words "meant to be". I feel so lucky for having experienced that. So many moments, so many insults, so many laughs!
After we graduated, we kept in touch more or less every day, even though the geographical distance between us meant we didn't see each other as often as we used to. Jobs, life, travels, relationships and an occasional pandemic often stood in the way, but a daily call or an array of pointless, yet hysterical messages from "The Joe'ker" always brought a smile to my face.
I will cherish and re-read the thousands and thousands of witty remarks we exchanged, but it breaks my heart to know that there will never be a new message. Apart from me talking to the sky and hearing him laughing inside my head.
Fun and pointless fact: we both absolutely worshipped chocolate-milk. I have many times said something along the lines of "chocolate milk is by far the greatest thing in world". I admit that I'm wrong about that, because the greatest thing in world is clearly friendship, but I still rank chocolate milk at a close second. And please know, Joe, that whenever I have a sip (which essentially is every day), I'll lift my glass, smile and think "Here's looking at you, kid".
The birth of "Having A Ball"
In June of 2021, Joseph was diagnosed with testicular cancer that sadly had already metastasised to both his lungs and his spine. The result was a gruelling chemotherapy process, and as an original way of updating friends, family and anyone who wanted to listen, we started our pod- and videocast "Having A Ball" (available on both YouTube and all podcasting-platforms).
Seeing as we've always joked about pretty much everything, we also attacked the subject of cancer with a sizeable portion of dark humour. We even referred to the podcast as "The most cancerous show online". Over the course of two seasons, we provided our limited, yet loyal fanbase with a documented journey of ups and down, friendship, loyalty, hope and love. Joseph said in the very first episode, which was named "The Humor In The Tumor" and released in July 2021, that "he would do this until the end". Sadly, that end came about 50 to 60 years too soon.
I miss my friend. And I am so proud of him. For his courage, his openness, his strength and his wicked sense of tomfoolery, even in the face of death. Together we built something that is bigger than both of us and hopefully will outlive all of us. I struggle to think of a more beautiful legacy than that, even though I obviously would've wanted Joe here instead.
A little over a year before we lost Joseph, his favourite comedian, Norm MacDonald lost his own battle to cancer. The similarities between these two Canadian comedic treasures are many. First of all, they are loved by more or less anyone who ever met them, they're treasured for their quick wit and unorthodox style, and we sadly lost both of them way too soon. The difference is that Joseph was open about his cancer from the very beginning, unlike Norm who never wanted anyone to know. Another sad, but true fact is that Norm got to experience well-deserved fame and adulation for his craft while he was here, whereupon many will sadly learn of Joseph's brilliance post-humously. I think it's fair to say we've lost two of the greats.
I am sad that he won't get to witness how wide his legacy will spread through "Having A Ball", but I know that if there is anything resembling an afterlife, Joseph will proudly meet me at my arrival with two ice-cold beers, a hug and he'll say: "Nice job, Little Dickie. Nice job indeed!"
The world is unquestionably an emptier place without Joe. The amount of feedback that has poured in, both while Joseph was here, but also after his tragic passing proves that we've struck a chord in people. We've touched upon something real, something honest and something existential. That's not a responsibility we took or ever will take lightly.
In August 2022, while Joseph was in the hospital, I set up the Having A Ball-web-store, where the initial plan was to sell merchandise sporting our logo in order to raise money for cancer research. Eventually we realised that we also wanted to start an awareness-campaign around the topic of looking for "balls" (or lumps for that matter) anywhere and everywhere on your body. So once you've read this, please take a second to check your balls, or check if there are any "balls" in and around your body that you shouldn't have. If there is, give your doctor a call. No joke.
As you've probably understood by now, it is my intention to work tirelessly to turn "Having A Ball" into a global awareness-phenomenon (similar to the famous pink ribbon that symbolises breast cancer). In other words, any and all help or tips to keep Joseph's legacy alive will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, dedication and generosity.
In loving memory of the coolest cat there ever was, Joseph Barnes.
Andreas (a.k.a "Little Dickie", "Harrison Fjord", "Trickster McMoron" etc. etc. etc.)
See Andreas' eulogy from Joseph's memorial service here:
This is the last photo ever taken of us, embracing each other saying goodbye. It is by far one of the most heart-breaking moments of my life, yet so beautiful.