US comedian at Bangalow big laugh festival

ARJ Barker is officially a lost soul.

The American comedian has just discovered golf

“It's funny when you tell people you have just started playing golf, it is like you have just become a drug addict,” Arj said.

Speaking from Brisbane, on speaker phone that made it oddly sound like we were having a conversation in the toilet or a cave, Arj qualified that by adding he also loves mountain biking.

“Yeah there are some beautiful trails where I live in Colorado,” he said.

Must write that down in my travel diary -'go to Colorado for mountain biking'. But before I do, there was something more pressing: why was he talking on speaker phone?

“I don't have a hands free kit for this phone and I can't have the phone near my head because I get headaches,” he said.

Right. Fair point. I can live with that.

Born Arjun Singh, Arj dropped his last name and some of his first name to make it easier for people to remember.

“I picked Barker because it sounded festive,” he said.

“I imagined people saying: 'Here comes Arj Barker, yay'.

“I toyed with a few other names, McGinty was another but it didn't have that same ring to it.”

An 'undercover' or 'secret' Australian, Arj spends a lot of time Down Under.

“I love this place,” he said.

But does he love Brisbane?

“Yeah I like it, but I have just come from my home which is in the middle of winter so I am pretty happy to be here in the heat,” he said.

A regular to our shores, his two and half month trip to Oz has coincided with our worst ever natural disaster, which he said 'mortified' him.

So much so that he has interrupted his touring schedule to do a benefit night with other comedians for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal in Sydney.

“It was all over the news back home, it is really sad,” he said.

“Not just for the loss of life and property but also all the animals in the forest. I think they're as important as humans, although I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I enjoy eating them.”

And unlike this author who believes you can't trust a vegetarian or a vegan, Arj said most vegos he had met must have been the 'alright ones'.

“I can see why people would be vegetarian, but when I am on the road I need a good steak every now and again,” he said.

His love of animals and meat shouldn't come as a surprise considering his hit Flash animation, which features not only himself in cartoon but his sidekick Poopy, a white, big-eyed cat.

“I love cats so when we were trying to come up with a sidekick we decided on a cat, and because we wanted a flatulent sidekick, we called him Poopy,” he said.

“It's funny, most of the emails I get are all about Poopy, 'where's Poopy, when are we going to see Poopy again?'

“He is yet to support the family though.”

Fans of the animated series will he happy to know that the next, and as Arj put it, 'the funniest episode ever', is in production.

“Just before you called I was on the phone back home. We are in the middle of doing one now so hopefully that will be finished soon,” he said.

And what is the ingredient making the show so popular that Arj is considering turning it into a TV series?

“It's timeless and adults and kids both enjoy it. I just want more people to see it,” he said.

It's always a bizarre feeling asking a comedian how he describes his brand of humour. I've seen enough of his shows to be able to tag him with a slogan but does that fit his own idea?

No. The Led Zeppelin loving comedian dislikes the tag 'observational comedian' often used to describe his live show.

“Yeah, I don't know about observational comedian,” Arj said.

“I only do things that are funny, or I think are funny. If that comes from an observation than so be it, but sometimes it comes from a concept and other times it is just something silly or stupid I said to my friends and I think, I'll put that in my show.”

Glad I got that out of the way.

It also leads him to a potential joke that may or may not appear in his show at the Big Joke Festival in Bangalow next month.

“I'm glad I'm on the phone to you because I came up with this earlier today and if I don't get it out I'll forget it,” he said.

The joke was told, there was much laughter, and he jotted it down in his notepad. I won't ruin the surprise for you but it has to do with pre-paid internet cards and 'porn binges'.

“I'm glad I did that, thanks,” he said.

Anytime Arj, anytime.

  •  The Big Joke Fesival is being held in Bangalow from March 26 to 29. Tickets and pricing information can be found by emailing byronbay@jetsettravel.com.au or call 6685 6262. All other tickets are available from The Urban in Bangalow on 6687 2678.



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