Published in The Music (NSW, QLD, WA) and on theMusic.com.au, Oct – Nov 2016
Comedy maestro Arj Barker reckons Flight Of The Conchords are more likely to make a movie than another TV series and hopes they read Daniel Cribb‘s feature containing hints that he’s available.
Australia’s adopted son, Arj Barker, is pretty much a fully-fledged citizen at this stage. He even has a voicemail greeting to prove it. “G’day, mate,” a robotic, ocker voice begins, “Leave a bloody message after the bloody tone, bloody drongo. Too easy.”
Barker’s quick to call back, on the road to a gig in regional NSW. He’s had a hectic schedule as of late, still touring Get In My Head, but the ideas rolling around inside Barker’s mind are beginning to shift. “I’m just trying to learn new skills; that’s where I draw the greatest joy from now,” Barker begins.
“I’ve always fantasised of being able to build stuff. Even though I had wood shop when I was a kid, I just screwed around and didn’t pay much attention; now as I get older I think how cool would it be to build a chair, or build some shelves.”
Although on the surface comedy and woodwork don’t seem to have much in common, they’re both about creating something.
“One of the things comedy taught me is how exciting it is to get into something I know nothing about, and to really try to learn it,” he explains. “I’m still learning [comedy] and it’s still challenging, but now I’m at a point where I want to branch out, just for hobbies, because otherwise, what do you do in life?”
A series of upcoming gigs dishing out The Classic saw Barker go through his past works to pick his favourite material, which was a good chance to reflect on other lessons that comedy has delivered. “I think [comedy] is important for people in general; it’s healthy for people to laugh,” he tells. “Sometimes I forget that’s the whole point. I sometimes think of it from my own perspective… sometimes I forget the main reason I’m there is the people are there; they’re laughing and having a good time. It’s a funny feeling to look out and see people laughing – it’s a happy moment.”
It’s easy to see why he might fall into that mindset from time to time, the prolific individual rarely slowing down. But back in June, he had a more easygoing run of shows around the US, reuniting with and supporting comedy superstars Flight Of The Conchords. “It’s one of the funniest things to work with those guys because the pressure’s not really on me… so I can soak it up, enjoy it and work on my jokes,” he says. “I don’t anticipate they’ll bring the TV show back,” Barker adds when the HBO hit series is mentioned.
“I believe at some point they’ll write a Flight Of The Conchords movie, because that’s the logical progression… I don’t know if it will necessarily be the same world they inhabited in the HBO series, so I can’t say for sure if I’ll be involved. I would love to be, and I hope they read this and take it as a subtle hint that I’m available.”
Barker’s next show is still a while off, but it sounds like his new outlook will push the boundaries of whatever material he produces next. “I’m starting to think about my next show after Organic and I’d like for that to be ready to go at the end of next year,” he reveals. “I can’t say any specific direction that I’m going in, but I’d like to push the envelope a little. I want to challenge myself and I also want to do something unique. Most artists do, but we’ll see if I’m able to.”