Arj Barker is kicking off a new show ‘We Need To Talk’ which will see Australia’s favourite adopted comedian discussing some timely topics but also whatever appeals to him in the moment.
“When you hear that phrase, a lot of people might think of a relationship, a serious relationship discussion... 'honey we need to talk'. In my mind when I named it that, it was more like we need to talk like us as humans. Like we need to talk. There is a theme in this show, not the whole show, but there is a theme about technology and how the world has changed in the last 20 years as a result of the internet and more specifically our ability to access it 24/7 because of our smart phones,” Arj explains.
When describing his style, Arj mentions wanting to mix it up between saying something he believes in and just saying a silly joke: “I think at a minimum it has to be funny, ultimately it has to be funny because I’m selling tickets to a comedy show. I’m really just trying to make people laugh.
“I think one of the things a comedian does is summarise something that we all thought at one time or another. Maybe we never even fully formed the thought, and then the comedian can bring conciseness to that and that can be a big release of joy, and you get a laugh when you do that.”
Having performed for many years as a stand-up, Arj does have several other projects on the boil, co-writing scripts for a TV show and a movie, but he notes “stand-up is my bread and butter and I see that as my main job”. Almost 30 years after he took the stage for the first time just to try it he recalls, “I was immediately hooked and I never really thought about stopping.”
After becoming as big a success here in Australia as in his home country of America he speaks honestly about the mutual attraction between him and his Aussie audiences.
“I don’t know exactly why Australian audiences seemed to enjoy my performances, I never overanalysed it to be honest but I’m thankful for it. I do spend a tonne of time out here and I recently married an Australian so that’s one of the things that keeps me coming back.”
Having done stand-up now for three decades, Arj does offer some reflection about getting older: “I think it’s normal to go through these phases, for me personally somewhere in my 30s I think I calmed down a little bit and maybe grew up in some ways a little bit hopefully, although my wife wouldn’t necessarily agree.”
Then he casually notes, “one of the things I’m most proud about in this show is I’ll give some parenting advice and I don’t have any kids so I think that’s pretty cocky.”
Cocky and always hilarious, Arj Barker is back from this month.
‘We Need To Talk’ performs at the Arts Theatre from 20 February-18 March (Adelaide Fringe) and Melbourne Town Hall from 29 March-22 April (Melbourne Comedy Festival).