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Back in some small towns in the old west, the barber was the only person who had experience handling a very sharp knife (and the association between barbers and surgeons goes back centuries.) The town might not be big enough to have a physician, so in addition to cutting your hair and shaving you, he might also do some "minor" surgeries, or any major ones where you either didn't have enough time to get to a real doctor, or would probably die from the rigors of the trip. Sometimes was also the mortician since he had to shave the corpses, too. This type of Barber might show up in a "realist fantasy" that has done the research.

In fictional Westerns however Barbers are used primarily as sources of gossip, and a local gathering place outside of the Saloon. Expect the villain to show up and demand a shave before he confronts The Hero, thus allowing the Barber to send a warning to The Sheriff. Occasionally can be reversed.

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By ancient tradition, the Barber tends to be extremely talkative, often taking advantage of having a captive audience who can't reply because they've either got a hot towel on their face or a cutthroat razor at their throat.

See also Chatty Hairdresser.


Examples

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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Doctor Slump, this is Kurikinton Soramame's job, though he's not very good at it.
  • Part Three of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has a barber named Khan, who's a largely normal person... until he accidentally unsheathes Anubis.

    Comic Books 
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    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Barber Smurf in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, who like his cartoon counterpart has a limited clientele of customers to work with (in this case, including Duncan McSmurf, the adapted version of Gutsy from The Smurfs live-action film series). He is mostly seen with fellow Smurf Sweepy and Tapper the bartender.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Against All Flags: While chained to the auction block in the town square, Hawke receives a shave from Krukshank, the town barber. As talkative as any Wild West barber, Krukshank plays Mr. Exposition and provides Hawke with plenty of details about Diego Suarez. Krukshank is also the town's surgeon and executioner, but confides that is barbering he enjoys the most.
  • The Gunfighter uses the barbershop first as a place for The Gunfighter Wannabe to learn that The Gunslinger has come into town. The barber then warns The Sheriff, allowing him to intervene.
  • In Knife for the Ladies, Orville is not only the town undertaker, he is also the town barber, with his funeral parlour being located at the rear of his barbershop. However, unlike most Western barbers, he is a dour, taciturn individual.
  • In Lust for Gold, the timid town barber has to endure a fraught confrontation between Walz and Pete when they both come to his store at the same time. He then spends some time dodging Walz's awkward questions about who Pete is.
  • Billy Bob Thornton's character in The Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) is a subversion of the stereotypically friendly, chatty barber: he's a simple, dull fellow who leads a life of quiet desperation that abruptly gets loud.
  • In Rancho Notorious, Vern gets a haircut from a typically loquacious western barber while searching for clues to Chuck-a-Luck's location.
  • The eponymous Sweeney Todd is this by trade, serial killer by inclination and practice.
  • Documentary A Time for Burning has Ernie Chambers, a barber and black radical and civil rights activist who delivers some unvarnished home truths to reformist white minister Rev. Youngdahl ("Your laws are a farce") while cutting hair the whole time.

    Literature 
  • "The Tale Of The Barber" in the Arabian Nights, in which a barber tells several stories about his family and chatters endlessly while swearing up and down that he is a man of few but wise words, despite his penchant for chatter and meddling only causing trouble wherever he goes. The end result (depending on the translation) is hilarious.
  • Little Benjamin in Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling.

    Live Action TV 

    Radio 
  • The chatterbox style of barber appears in an episode of The Six Shooter Radio Drama delivering an info dump on the goings-on in the town as the hero Britt Ponsett (James Stewart) struggles to get a word in edgeways.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Dragon had an article with a Barber prestige class for 3.0 edition. It was notable primarily for being one of the single most useless prestige classes ever published in a canon book- its "best" ability allowed you to cast a weakened version of Charm Person on someone once per day after spending at least a minute in hands-on contact with them (in other words, giving them a haircut or some similar activity).
    • This was an update of a rogue kit from the 2nd edition Al-Qadim setting. The problem is that, while barbers are an essential part of the Arabian Nights, they don't actually make for good adventurers in the same way as Corsairs or Holy Slayers.

    Theatre 
  • Man of La Mancha, which actually features a journeyman barber who still loves the sound of his own voice.
  • Figaro, The Barber of Seville.
  • Shear Madness, an interactive whodunit play, features a flamboyant hairdresser as one of the characters and suspects. Whether or not that character turns out to be the murderer depends on the audience's vote, of course.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a zig-zagged case. Decades prior to the story, Benjamin Barker was a friendly, well-liked town barber, easily fitting the trope. He returns from exile a brooding, sullen man, though depending on the version he remains friendly and talented enough to ensure a stream of satisfied customers and victims. The musical version of the Demon Barber plays up his Odd Friendship with his partner in crime and landlord Mrs. Lovett, gleefully plotting their crime spree.
    • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) largely does away with the trope, in favor of playing up this Sweeney as a melancholy, withdrawn force of vengence to match the tone of the film. Here, the Demon Barber remains introverted and meticulous, rarely talking with other characters, while they have one-sided conversations near him, instead preferring to talk to his razors. He only really breaks this reverie before brutally murdering somebody plot-relevant.
    • In the 2006 BBC version, one of his customers remarks—as a compliment—that Sweeney Todd's barbershop is "the quietest in London", appreciating that he's not "chittering on like the rest of 'em".
    • In his cameo in Dodger, it's mentioned that someone had obviously told him a barber is supposed to maintain some light chatter, but had failed to realise just how bad the PTSD-driven Sweeney would be at it.

     Webcomics 
  • In the Western arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, old Doc Merlin is the town medic and barber, seen giving Arthur a shave as they discuss replacing his office table with one of those big round spools telegraph wire comes on.

    Web Original 
  • Played with in the Transformation Story Saga aptly titled The Barber; the main character not only takes care of his customers' hair, but also of their physical wellbeing... by making them become somebody else (always a very attractive, gay man).

    Western Animation 
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog has Cousin Fred, a parody of Sweeney Todd that while equally creepy and psychotic merely has an obsession with cutting hair (in excess) rather than throats.
  • Heckle and Jeckle are old West barbers in the cartoon "Hair Cut-Ups," where they give outlaw Dangerous Dan the onceover.
  • Doctor Barber from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, who also dabbles in Weird Science.
    • He's also a Candyologist.
  • VeggieTales: In Minesota Cuke and the Search For Sampson's Hairbrush, when Cuke goes to Seville, Spain, looking for the titular brush, hitting up two Italian barbers for information.
  • Barber Smurf in The Smurfs, though he has a rather limited clientele as few Smurfs in the village have hair.

     Real Life 

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