Real name:Arjun Singh
Date Of Birth: 12/08/1974
Half-Sikh, half-European US comic Arj Barker tried stand-up comedy as a dare, at the age of 19, and was instantly bitten by the bug. He dropped out of college and hit the road, and has rarely stopped since.
As well as his native USA Ė where he has appeared on all the late-night shows including Letterman, Conan, and the Tonight Show - he regularly appears on the international festival circuit across the UK, Australia and New Zealand and beyond. He appeared in Edinburgh every year from 1997, when he won the Perrier best newcomer prize, to 2000.
He co-wrote an off-Broadway show in 2004 called the The Marijuana-Logues, a parody of The Vagina Monologues about dope-smoking
That same year he landed the lead role in an NBC sitcom, Nearly Nirvana, in 2004. But he was later replaced by the show's creator, Ajay Sahgal, and still the show never aired.
In 2007, he won a recurring supporting role in the HBO hit Flight Of The Conchords, playing Brett and Germainís friend Dave.
Arj Barker Videos
Arj Barker: Let Me Do The Talking
Arj Barker is probably the biggest draw at the Melbourne Comedy festival, playing the 1,500-seater main Town Hall room in the plum 9.30pm slot almost every day for three and a half weeks. Thatís what being on Flight Of The Conchords will get you. That and a dedication to returning to Melbourne year after year to build an audience.
His style has evolved over the years, too, as his stoner San-Franciscan drop-out mentality has softened while he edges slightly more mainstream. These sensibilities are expressed less directly; instead he adopts an arrogant, stereotypical American swagger, and undermines it through irony.
His take on the environment, for example, is that itís not our fault for ruining it, but the environmentís fault for not being able to cope with humansí sheer awesomeness Ė a message pushed home with the sort of passion only possible from those unable to see any alternate point of view. Itís Barker by name and barker by nature as he delivers short, forceful sentences in a big performance for the big room.
But heís not always driven by maximising the laugh rate, and there are some relatively extended sections without any big punchlines. Rather heís happy to establish a wry, witty landscape at his own pace, building trust and rapport and making for a richer comedy experience.
His material about the Australiansí recklessly relaxed use of language helps enforce that empathy, as do the local references. Not that he needs to pander, as his piece about snakes ably demonstrates. Though it starts from obvious comments about the deadly antipodean wildlife, it becomes an impressively original train of thought, simultaneously whimsical and punchy.
A few routines are less convincing Ė pornography making men feel inadequate was an uncharacteristically pedestrian segment, and the closing song was a definite anticlimax Ė but Let Me Do The Talking is a generally impressive exercise in making the offbeat accessible.
After winning our confidence, Barker even manages to talk, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, about the illuminati and the shape-shifting lizards who control them. Our only defence, apparently, is his patented AQUA approach: Always Question Unvalidated Authority. Itís a big concept, but with Barkerís light touch, it becomes a fanciful routine in which a text message is given human characteristics Ė and it seems to be an impatient New Yorker.
But Barkerís as impressive talking about hotel towels as he is exposing the hidden agenda of the New World Order. Iíd recommend the show Ė but donít take my word for it. You should question such authority.
Arj Barker Dates
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