Arj Barker is Australia's adopted son of comedy. He is a regular occurrence on Australian TV screens with appearances on Good News Week, Spicks and Specks and the 7pm Project. He also plays Dave on the hit show Flight of the Concords. Barker who won the coveted Perrier Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1997, has firmly established himself as one of the golden boys on the international comedy circuit. For years, he has been honing his craft at comedy festivals and clubs all around the world. He has made numerous appearances on late night talk shows,including Letterman and Conan O'Brian shows, as well as his own half hour pecial on HBO produced by comedy central. Arj also plays 'Dave' on HBO's hit series 'Flight of the Conchords'
On January 12, 1971, in San Francisco, California, Mr and Mrs Xavius Barker gave birth to a baby son. Bonny Fairgoth, a nurse in the maternity ward at the hospital recalls, “I’d never seen a funnier baby. His impressions of other babies were uncanny." The Barkers took their new baby home and raised him like so many other kids of the era, on a steady diet of TV. Young Arj showed a penchant for stand-up at an early age. Whilst most other children his age were interested in watching Sesame Street or the Electric Company, Barker preferred such shows as Evening at the Improv and Comedy on the Road
Arj signed up for his first open mike at the age of 19, playing to a room of sailors at the since closed-down Holy City Zoo. One of the sailors, Barney Higgins, recalled the performance many nights later. “He was good, but his material seemed dated – baby impressions if you can believe it!"
Still, Barker persisted and it was only a matter of months before he was making a name for himself on the local circuit. Fellow comedian Harmon Leon was starting out at roughly the same time and recalls those days. “It was only a matter of months before he was making a name for himself on the local circuit".
He began touring nationally by the age of 22, and in September of 1994, he placed 4th in the prestigious Seattle Comedy Competition. Always an avid traveller, it was around this same time that Barker arranged to perform a series of dates in London, England. Things didn’t start off very well overseas. He bombed so hard his first night in London, that, following the performance, he wept. Niget Watkins, the agent who brought him over from America remembers seeing Arj crying like a baby backstage. “I thought he was rehearsing some new material."
Out of necessity, barker wrote a new act for the English audiences, based on the impressions of a newcomer in their country. It was very well received, and several years and many visits later, he took his act up to the 1997 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His one-man show, Letters to America not only sold out, but won him the coveted Perrier Best Newcomer Award, one of the highest honours bestowed to an act at the festival.
Riding the wave of good publicity following the festival, Arj landed a featured role in the BBC 3-part television drama Shooting the Past. It was the first serious acting role he’d done professionally, but the critics called him “unbelievable". To this day, nobody’s really sure of they meant it as a compliment.
Though acting is a consideration, Barker seems to enjoy doing stand-up and travelling most. And so he continues ot tour the world, bringing his original band of humour wherever there’s a stage and an English speaking audience. To date he has performed in over 10 countries including Canada, Ireland, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Australia and even China.
As much as he travels, Arj always looks forward to returning to the US, and his reputation as a comic continues to grow there with frequent appearance on such talk shows as The Late Show with David Letterman, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
Though he now lives in Venice California, just outside Hollywood, he returns often to the Bay area (San Francisco) and delights in headlining on the same stage where once he struggled to do five minutes.
If you haven’t seen or heard of Arj barker until now, then you’re not alone – over 8,000,000,000 have yet to. But when you do, you’re sure to enjoy yourself because after all everybody loves babies.
To date Arj has performed in over 10 countries including;
Canada, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Australia and even China.
• Melbourne International Comedy Festival
• Edinburgh Fringe Festival
• Adelaide Fringe Festival
• Montreal ‘Juste Pour Rire’ (Just for Laughs) Festival
• Sydney Comedy Festival
• New Zealand Comedy Festival
• Thank God You’re Here
• Spicks & Specks
• Good News Week.
• The Footy Show – NRL
• Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala
It’s a joy to spend an hour in his world. 5 Stars
The Adelaide Advertiser
If comedians are the new rock stars, then Arj Barker is stand-up's Dave Grohl
The Age, Melbourne
Arj sold every ticket last year and the year before and was the most popular comic. Australians love his warped self-deprecating humour.
The Herald Sun