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ARTS - Barking Up The Right Tree - Arj Barker Interview

Author: Laura Parker
Monday, 28 April 2008

In Sydney for the Cracker Comedy Festival, US comedian Arj Barker will soon have to farewell his home-away-from-home and polish up his acting skills for his return to his native soil and role on the cult TV show Flight Of The Conchords. He talks to 3D’s Laura Parker.

How does it feel to leave Australia all over again-
It sucks! I love it here. I’m pretty much spending close to half the year here, for sure. Everything about Australia is great – the crowds, the nice people and the friends I make. I’m definitely considering moving here at some point.

How do Australian audiences compare to the rest of the world-
Man, you guys are awesome. I love Australian audiences because they have an open mind; they’re generally happy to be where they are and they react to my comedy well. They don’t come in to the show going ‘My life sucks and you suck until proven otherwise’. They have a good attitude and they’re prepared to have a good time.

How often do you have to make changes to your act-
I try and have a different show each year. That’s about the right time to start including new stuff. I don’t know where the material comes from – it just springs into my head. I don’t actually sit down and write a new show, I just include new stuff gradually and test what works and what doesn’t, until I have a whole new act. I like improvising a lot while I’m performing.

Do you have a favourite bit that you love to do-
I do but it’s really immature – it’s just a dumb joke. I put a bottle of water on the stool on stage, and then I spill a little on the stool and then I say ‘Oh no, we have a watery stool...’ The audience always groans at that bit.
What do you like doing when you get some down time-
I like to go to they gym, play poker, meet friends for coffee and hiking. I love being outdoors and in the woods and all that. I also love going to casinos. Crown Casino has some of the best poker I’ve played in the whole world.

How did your role on Flight of the Conchords come about-
I’m friends with the guys and they asked me to be on their show… I guess because they thought I was funny- I’m in nine out of the twelve episodes of the first season and we’re working on the second season now. It’s such a great show. Apart from the fact that I’m on it, it’s just so stupid in such a funny way. There’s a script we work off but once we’ve one a few takes, we just screw around and we improvise and some of the stuff we do during those takes makes it into the final cut. It’s already a hit in the US, kind of like an underground sensation. I can’t wait to go back to New York and start shooting again.

WHO: Arj Barker
WHAT: Plays Enmore Theatre

WHEN: Wednesday 30 April