Barker has a great running gag here that is based on the tension in a relationship when each person wonders what the other really thinks about them.
Avoiding a seat in the front row is always wise with a stand-up comic’s show unless you have a thick hide, but someone well back in this night’s audience offered themselves up in an equivalent way by responding to a question from Barker about Game of Thrones. Perhaps the biggest laughs of the night ensued as he used her answer to debate the issue of popular TV shows and spoilers. Still, there was nothing vicious about it. Barker’s humour is ultimately of the laughing with you rather than at you kind.
One might still wonder what he says about Adelaide when he is doing shows elsewhere. Brisbane, or rather BrisVegas, cops a well-judged serve during the show that is definitely an “at them” moment, even if rather gently delivered.
The only noticeable lull occurred when he conjured notions of Shakespeare. Barker contemplated distractions that Shakespeare might have experienced in his own time when struggling to write compared with being exposed to that big modern one, the internet. While interesting, it was not especially imaginative.
There was, however, an abundance of material that connected well with the world of the audience and it was well timed. If you want to know exactly why the Uber “taxi” service works so well, for example, Barker has it nailed. He paints a weird but essentially true picture of the underlying psychology and extrapolates until you can hardly hear him for the laughter.
If a single blooper regarding the main theme, that of organic food, was instantly noticed by both audience and Barker, the slip was funny in its own right, and it seemed to produce recognition of the pressure to perform. Barker is offering 27 shows in this Festival, which means you really have no excuse for missing Organic.
Arj Barker – Organic is at the Arts Theatre until March 13.
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