Prove your humanity

From first appearing on Australian screens on comedy television show Thank God You’re Here, Arj Barker quickly became a familiar face on our TV screens nation-wide. I was lucky enough to speak to the American comedian last week about his live new show Organic, Flight of the Conchords, and his trademark bandanas. 

For all you pesticide-lovers out there: fear not, Organic is just the show’s name. While some of the jokes are au naturel, audiences can expect “all sorts of stuff” from Arj’s upcoming show. Either way, he promises you’ll “laugh the whole time.”

A comedian wasn’t always what Arj Barker thought he’d be: “I tried it on a lark and found it really exciting”. Whatever that means, I’m sure his thousands of international fans are glad he made that leap.

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. Of course I asked him about Flight of the Conchords! Geez, calm down.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it follows the journey of two New Zealand folk singers, Brett and Jemaine, who are trying to make it big in New York. Dave, Arj’s character, becomes a guru-life-coach to the duo, teaching them how to assimilate into American culture. The odd premise makes for some classic moments, and the show has a strong cult following – especially in Australia.

“I was friends with the guys (Brett and Jemaine) from before, you know; I’d see them round at festivals and when they were developing the show, luckily, they thought of me.”

Bandanas are a trademark of both Arj’s stand up attire and Dave’s wardrobe in the show. But which came first, you ask? It’s the classic dilemma of the chicken and the egg.

“I had been wearing them before the show. In fact, I rocked up to an informal audition wearing it and it just stuck. I even said: ‘Do you want me to take this off?’, but James Bobin (a co-creator of the show) saw something in it.”

“After we stopped filming the show I stopped wearing them, because I didn’t want people to think I wanted to be recognised for my role.”

Unlike his fashion choices, Arj’s observational and tonal comedy style seems to have remained constant over the years. He sees the humour in the everyday, and I for one am excited that this comedy legend continues to tour with fresh material.

From Montreal to the Melbourne comedy festivals, Arj Barker has firmly established his place in the global comedy community; though I think Australians would like to claim him as our own.


You can catch Arj Barker with his new show Organic from May 3-5 at Perth’s Regal Theatre.


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