Sharing opinions in his usual charismatic manner, Arj Barker’s new show We Need To Talk makes the audience ripple in laughter from start to finish, leaving little untouched on topics such as marriage, parenting and technology.
Set in a packed Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre, We Need To Talk feels surprisingly intimate as Barker ranges through his set, sometimes ad libbing, heading off on brief tangents as thoughts pop into his head. Melburnians particularly love the American comedian because he knows how to pronounce Melbourne correctly. All of his idioms are localised and the audience truly feels he is a comedian who has done his research.
A consummate performer, Barker knows exactly how to entertain. He slips in-and-out of various characters, using his entire body to convey his meaning. Throwing his head back, his voice sails throughout the theatre, to return to quiet and congenial conversation a minute later. Swept along by his energy and enthusiasm, the audience hangs on his every word, waiting for the next punchline to kick off the ensuing wave of laughter.
Barker’s confidence is his strong point; he is not afraid to shy away from confrontational statements. Discussing the generation gap – from the day of cavemen to modern-day millennials – he challenges stereotypes and societal norms. It is not just a matter of sitting in the dark laughing at the man up front; through their chuckles, the audience is also copping a backhand of serious agendas.
Comfortable on the Melbourne stage, Barker wears ‘camping pants’ because he is ‘married and does not have to try anymore’. Relaxed and engaging, his 30 years of experience is clearly apparent as his tales of life and love resonate through the theatre. He is a funny guy, with a lot to say.