Arj Barker has married, matured, done self-work, and has a new demeanour. Still as assured, expressive, and mobile as ever, he wants to get up, close, and personal. The world is at an interesting place in 2018. He feels: We Need To Talk. This show is a fab hour plus under the magnifying glass of Arj’s curiosity and is his #comedylifehack.
An honorary Melburnian, beloved of MICF audiences, affable Arj speaks like a local. I’ve loved this Canadian since he described the new Federation Square as built by someone who dropped their protractor in the Yarra in the early 2000s. His sly, sardonic sideways analyses of everything from major cultural phases to hotel mini bar security has him interrogating the everythings of our world that reflect where we’re at.
Take APP ads. New marketing speaks to us using our slang and he decodes their use of the language subverted to sell back to us. They feel like your best friend but are still sponsored by a capitalist corporation interested only in your account transactions. Facebook, Whats App, check in’s in Hell after death, mega-celebrities and internet personalities are the gamut of his laser sharp scrutiny.
Arj is the consummate professional and holds his all ages audience in the palm of his assured hand. He kills the delivery of his stellar script, with minute details that are the nuts and bolts of brilliant build ups, ad libbing that he’d trust a Tightarse Tuesday crowd because they are non-bs pragmatists. Quirkily delivering his own intro, he quizzically interrogates the ordinary and we are the laughed up lucksters.
Arj loves children and animals and both are departure points for digressions on the cult of success and achievement that pervades modern life. Progress and excellence. For whom and to where? What happened to kindergarten kids’ attention spans? He is a fan of the go-slow mode and this is rich source for hilarious material about inter-generational turf wars and identity crises. His definition of a millennial is something you wouldn’t predict, and his impersonation of teens meeting up at the mall is side-splittingly accurate.
He goes personal, speaking of the challenges of the mobile phone in the marital home. Face down after 7pm. He goes all career wellbeing, extolling the benefits of doing what you truly love as measure of success, not the fantasy of telling kids you can be whatever you want to be, which, for the most of us, is a disappointing mistruth. As he says, There’s plenty of time. Problem is, a shortage of life. He respects the workplace realists and has a stunning joke where he performs to only garbage collectors.
He reminds us all of a world before mobiles, the years when you could safely be assured you were watching the best tv could offer(1980s) as compared with the 20teens, when you have a universe of shows on offer, hundreds of iterations, remakes,prequels, and sequels. Variety is not freedom. As he notes: the choice is paralysing.
Hang round til the end to see what he’s drinkin’….
With a mind so bright, and confidence that only a stand up of 28 years delivers, you won’t feel so alone as you/your phone/your partner/family/children and/or pets migrate into the great unknown that is your future-present.
He’s as relevant as ever.
Sarah Wallace is a dance-trained Theatre Specialist with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance platforms. On the street, or in the box seat, she looks for quality works that push the envelope.
Arj Barker: We Need To Talk shows 29 March – 22 April, 7.30pm Tuesday- Saturday, 8pm Saturday 7 April, 5pm Sunday 22 April, 6:30pm Sunday 8 April, (60 mins) at Main Hall, Melbourne Town Hall. Book tickets here. The venue is accessible.
Jump onto arjbarker.com to keep an eye on tour dates, his blog, merchandise as well as his amazing stickers.