ARJ BARKER: 2001 – A SPACED ODDITY (Valhalla, Sydney Comedy Festival, Glebe 1999)

Elvis has left the building and went to the Valhalla. And perhaps changed his look to the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Cause with those pants, that’s what Arj reminded me of. Arj Barker’s show starts out a little paranormal. Through a cloud of smoke and to the tune of A Space Odessy, a lump appears, some sort of creature. Actually it’s just Arj wrapped in a blanket. At the climax of the piece he emerges. And it’s like Prince never changed his name into a symbol. Sporting thick eyeliner, more grease in his hair than a chip fryer, and a pair of tight silver hipster pants so low that even Britney would turn them down, You’re left to think- “What the fuck is going on here?”. The Arj explains.

You see the problem with stand up comedy according to Arj is that it isn’t glamourous enough, it’s not rock’n’roll. So he’s decided to change it. It’s a theme that carries on throughout his show with the inclusion of his new game “Heavy Metal Heckle”. The rules are simple. At various stages of the show he chooses a member of the audience to heckle him with a specific heckle when a particular word is said. Then Arj retorts, everyone goes wild, and Arj does an air guitar solo to the tune of a Def Leppard song. Hysterical.

Arj covers various topics throughout his piece, focusing on his life in San Franscisco and the world of a touring comedian, drugs, parties, customs, and the problems a visitor has in being in Australia. It is in this last topic that he excels.

Like many comedians, arj often researches the area before he performs. But unlike other comedians, he doesn’t stoop to making fun of our country or pointing out the differences between Americans and Australians. Actually he does, but he’s not rude about it.

Sadly I missed Arj when he toured here recently. But considering the migraine I developed due to laughing so hard (with both him and Ross Noble on the same night), maybe it was a good thing.

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