Comedy In Preview
The conversation begins with an observation about a guy walking down the street in the Valley, massive energy drink in hand, hair like Jesus and wearing meggings (the male legging).
â€œAnd people say that Brisbane isn't a happening place.â€ Arj Barker, comedian with the connections (who doesn't want to be on â€˜Flight Of The Conchordsâ€™ these days?), ladies man and fitness guru is about to hit the stage in Brisbane for a record number of sold out shows.
Currently making his way down the East coast of Queensland, Barker is en route to Bundaberg. The conversation turns to the infamous local beverage but Barker is noncommittal. â€œYeah I've tried the rum but it's not really my drink you know.â€ What is he drinking then? â€œNot much lately, just a lot of water. I'm on a real health kick, been jogging every day. I pick my battles and go out once in a while but whenever I'm on tour, I don't so much because I want to stay fit for the shows.â€
A surprising answer from someone who has been called 'the Dave Grohl of the comedic world', which implies a similar rock'n'roll lifestyle - instead Barker is all about stamina.
â€œI need stamina because I like to talk. I like to have a large vocal range and my shows are over an hour long so I need to be fit for it. In the early days I used to have a few drinks before I went on but that just does not work. You don't put on your best show if you've been drinking; you got to have your all your facilities at 100%. You don't need to give yourself a handicap you know.â€ Not that he gets heckled anymore: â€œYou don't get heckled if you're funny.â€
Barker wants to know what kind of magazine he's about to appear in and seems kind of chuffed when he finds out he is headlining the arts section, â€œGood, well that's an honour. I must be moving up in the world. Now all I need to get myself is an enormous energy drink and some meggings.â€
The man has played numerous shows here before; we have seen him on television, at comedy festivals all over the world, he has guested/ moonlighted/ cameo-ed on numerous shows and of course he is a regular on â€˜Flight Of The Conchordsâ€™. So what is left to joke about? What can his fans possibly not have seen before? Barker tells fans what to expect or rather he tells me to tell them: â€œYou can just tell them that it's flat out the best show I've done so far. It's about an hour and ten but feels like less than 20 minutes because it's so full of fun and laughs. You could win a free car if you come. I mean you probably won't but it's possible. I'm not giving away a car but someone else could be so you should definitely come along. There's also some music in it this time, I'm getting more musical as time goes by (influenced by Brett and Jemaine perhaps?). So I play one song in the show on my guitar. I might also look at wearing meggings to fit in with the Brisbane crowd - having spoken to you about this, it could be an option to consider. Plus my arse is going to be looking real good 'cause I'm jogging a lot so you tell people that there will be some sweet ass. And basically what else would you need to tell someone to get them to come to a show?â€
This time around, he is playing an exceptionally long season for a comedian. Barker has at least 14 shows lined up and when asked if he feels any nervousness about not selling seats, you can almost feel the shrug through the phone line. â€œNah, not really. Even if one person shows up, I go on. But here's the thing. I've done shows here before and it's always been really full and I haven't become less popular. You know what I'm saying? The demand is there so that's why I'm doing the shows. Someone even made me a t-shirt saying 'Barjie does Brissie' with the XXXX in reference to a joke I did about the Brewery. I mistook it for a giant sex club.â€
And this is why we love him.
Arj Barker is playing at the Powerhouse from Tuesday December 1 - Sunday December 13.