INTERVIEW: Arj Barker

Published in The Music (VIC, QLD) and on theMusic.com.au, Mar 2015

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A new stand-up show exploring the different kinds of boners isn’t the only thing Arj Barker has been working on. The Aussie favourite tells Daniel Cribb about a TV show in development and why we should all fear the digital age.

Comedy maestro Arj Barker is in the midst of “boring shit” when he answers his phone from an Adelaide hotel room, but the truth is he’s far from living a monotonous life. He’s just given his new show, Get In My Head, its debut at Adelaide Fringe, and is refining the material for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. “I would have done 26 [shows] by Saturday night,” Barker begins. “It has just made the show so much stronger and better for Melbourne, because I have been changing things and tweaking it and getting it right.”

Barker’s last show, Go Time, is being put to rest and Get In My Head sees an interesting change of pace. “Go Time had a few musical elements, and this more of a straight stand-up show… I talk about everything from having children, to ISIS, to boners. I talk about the difference between a sex boner and a boner that you just get: the boner that just comes out of nowhere. So I have a close look at that, and I found some pretty good material in there. I try to open up a lot in the show, and be a little honest. Like, it gets pretty intense. People cry. I cry.”

But it’s not just dick jokes and cheap observational humour on offer, Get In My Head also tackles a somewhat pressing issue in a comic way. With a personal insight into Barker’s life and some serious social commentary contained within, his new show sees a big step forward. “A big part of the show is how we’re being affected in the digital age. I call it the heavily image-saturated age that we live in, and how it’s been affecting people on a personal level and how we are becoming focused on appearance and essentially becoming more shallow.

“We’re all just pretty goofed up right now. But that’s maybe not the biggest problem; I just wish that we were becoming more enlightened… I don’t see myself as a prophet or somebody that’s message will change the world or anything; I’m just commenting on it. Hopefully I’m doing my part but I’m really just trying to get laughs, I’ll be honest.”

The wider Australian community fell in love with Barker after he appeared as Dave in Flight Of The Conchords. He left a lasting impression and with some luck, we’ll hopefully see him return to the small screen soon – that’s if he can invest any time in the new project among his hectic touring schedule. “Me and a pal are trying to develop a TV show together, so that’ll probably be a half-hour show, based maybe in Melbourne, but we’ll see if someone buys it,” Barker reveals. “It’s too early to discuss [the premise], but suffice to say I’ll be the star and we hope it’ll be really good.”

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