Wednesday, 04 December 2013 16:04

Arj Barker: Comedy In Preview

Get ready to laugh because comedian, Arj Barker is back in Australia and will be heading to Brisbane in December to wrap up his latest critically-acclaimed, stand-up show ‘Go Time’.

“It’s mostly a stand-up show — a new stand-up show and it’s just had a great response,” says Arj. “A lot of people have said it’s their favourite show yet, a lot of people who have come back to four or five different shows of mine so I’m relieved that they think I’ve kept the bar high. If you’ve seen me before you can expect to laugh a lot.”

Although reluctant to give too much away, Arj says ‘Go Time’ is both “what audiences expect from me and the last thing they expect from me,” but fans need not worry as it doesn’t mark a break from Barker’s renowned comedy style. “Not at all,” he says, “what I meant was that it’s mostly stand-up comedy and jokes. You know if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s solid material and the kind I like to write, but it also has a little touch of singing and dancing … just at the very beginning, only for two minutes. I don’t think people necessarily expect that from me. Some of the show is observational, some of it’s silly, some of it’s personal, some of it’s philosophical — it’s quite a good mix, you know.”

A regular visitor to our shores, Arj has become known for his witty and off-beat observations on Australian life which he says come from simply spending so much time here as an objective outsider.

“I think it’s like anything: if you spend enough time here you start to notice things and also when you go somewhere else, some things tend to stand out more. So it’s not really that difficult. I’ve been here a lot and I notice more and more things over the years but now it’s almost come full circle where a lot of the things seem normal to me.

“I just live my life and try to pay attention to things and sometimes things stand out by themselves and they beg writing about. I think the research is just being alive — research is essentially the shit that happens in life.”

With his uncanny understanding of Australian culture, wickedly astute observations and a downright hilarious imitation of our accent, it’s no wonder Arj Barker is known as ‘Australia’s favourite American comedian’, a title he wears proudly like a badge of honour.

“Well that’s quite a compliment, there are a lot of American comedians out there and I do feel the support when I tour around and get these amazing audiences. I think Brisbane audiences are some of the best and it’s a nice way to end the tour,” he says.

Barker will spend almost three weeks in Brisbane during December for ‘Go Time’ and hopes to sample all the city has to offer in his downtime. “I’m going to go out a little bit here and there, maybe go to a bar or a club occasionally after the show. I also want to spend some time in the daytime, do some yoga; I might borrow my friend’s X-Box and play some games in my hotel.”

Although he doesn’t consider himself a ‘gamer’ as such, Arj does admit to a penchant for a certain popular first-person shooter. “I’ve been stuck playing ‘Call Of Duty’ for a long time. I keep going back to that multiplayer team death match and just trying to blast some other people … it’s pretty addictive. I also played 'Grand Theft Auto V' but haven’t got very far yet, it takes a lot of time.”

Beyond his stand-up comedy, Arj has also dabbled in television with his own self-produced animated short series, ‘Arj & Poopy’, as well as his work with 'Flight Of The Conchords' and hopes Adam Hills’ recent departure from his television hosting duties frees up some airtime for other comedians.

“It might be a chance for some other of us to host a TV show now that he’s not hosting every goddamn TV show here.”

‘Go Time’ runs from December 3-22 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Published in Comedy
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 12:14

Arj Barker Tickets

Arj Barker is back.

Arguably Australia’s favourite American comedian (and definitely everybody’s favourite ‘Flight Of The Conchords’ supporting character), Arj has come to understand our culture better than we understand it ourselves.

His new show, ‘Go Time’, is both “what audiences expect from me AND the last thing they expect from me, which if my calculations are correct, will make for a great show”. It takes place at the Brisbane Powerhouse December 3-22.

To win one of four double passes to his Wednesday December 4 show This competition has closed.
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Published in Competition
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 11:25

Arj Barker

Comedy In Preview

While shaking up a wheatgrass juice, comedian Arj Barker tells us after the last three months of touring, he’s now trying to get his health back.

“I don’t care if people know how hard the road is, the road beats you up. You’re in the car wobbling around all day, in a different bed each night, there’s no regularity of food. I know I have a much easier life than many people in this world, but the road takes its toll,” Arj says.

The road takes him a long way from his home in California so he tends to make the most of what luxuries he can while on tour. “I’m essentially sacrificing having a personal life spending so much time out on the road. I’m missing my friend’s birthday parties, my nephew’s baseball games and maybe a normal relationship for myself, so I’m thinking at least I’ll eat the best goddamn meal I can.”

When first asked what keeps bringing Arj back to Australia so frequently, he springs on the chance for a laugh. “I keep forgetting shit. In ’98, I left my favourite hoodie here, so I had to tour for a few months until I found it in Canberra. Then I got home and I was ‘oh, are you kidding me? Where the fuck is my iPhone charger?’ and those are expensive so I had to come back.”

But the truth is Arj actually has a bigger fan base here than anywhere else in the world. “I do have a career in the states, but I’m just balancing out. This is definitely a second home for me so it’s natural I’d spend a lot of time here.”

Before even coming to Australia, Arj’s first stage performances abroad were in London back in the ‘90s, which was a bit of an eye opener for him. “It forced me to write a new opener which acknowledged their hesitancy towards my nationality. It was really that first minute that was so important. Now when I go there, I don’t bother with it, I have a lot more confidence and I’m not going to apologise for being American which is essentially what I did in the early days.”

There’s definitely no need to apologise as Arj is well known now throughout Europe as well as Australia and the US. “In fact we’re trying to cut a deal right now to show my DVDs in Europe and Eastern Scandinavia on television, and these are DVDs I recorded in Sydney so we’ll see how that goes.”

Arj prefers to keep his humour fairly universal with material that works wherever you go. “The only thing I’ve ever really modified is my references, so I’m not going to make a joke about Darling Harbour when I’m in San Francisco. I have jokes that only work in Amsterdam so you guys will probably never hear them out here.”

Travelling around and making so many TV appearances, Arj often gets recognized by fans and welcomes people wanting to say hi and get a picture. “The only thing is sometimes I’m so feral - I just rolled out of bed and went to the airport and if anything I’m a little embarrassed to have photographic evidence of what a scrounge I am.”

With 2011 coming to a close, he has big plans to branch out into new things as he takes a break from touring. “I’m gonna learn to DJ and get a few gigs around the place cause I got a taste of that earlier this year at a Triple J party. They asked me to be a guest DJ, I said ‘this is the best deal ever - it’s fun, people are dancing and they’re happy.”

On top of wanting to get into another TV show along the lines of ‘Flight Of The Concords’, he plans to do some acting, learn piano, hang glide, and do some serious video gaming. “It sounds kind of cliché but I’m one of those people that’s like ‘you only have one life’ so you may as well try all the stuff you found interesting and fun.”

For the most part Arj is looking forward to being able to slow down and spend some time at home in the states to see what the new year brings. “With the implications of 2012 and a Presidential election, it’ll be an interesting year whatever happens. It’s going to be such a circus I don’t want to miss it; the world is mental right now.”

DON’T MISS ARJ BARKER’S SHOW ‘ELEVEN’ AT QPAC NOVEMBER 30 – DECEMBER 2.

Published in Comedy
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 12:33

Arj Barker Interview

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).

“And people say that Brisbane isn't a happening place.” Arj Barker, comedian with the connections (who doesn't want to be on ‘Flight Of The Conchords’ 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. “Yeah I've tried the rum but it's not really my drink you know.” What is he drinking then? “Not 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.”

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.

“I 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.” Not that he gets heckled anymore: “You don't get heckled if you're funny.”

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, “Good, 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.”

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 ‘Flight Of The Conchords’. 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: “You 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?”

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. “Nah, 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.”

And this is why we love him.

Arj Barker is playing at the Powerhouse from Tuesday December 1 - Sunday December 13.

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