It was a familiar voice that greeted the audience over the mic at the Regal Theatre last Thursday night. “Yes, I am introducing myself,” Arj Barker quickly admitted from behind the stage. He asked earnestly for the crowd to get excited as he entered the stage, and the sold out audience erupted with cheers and applause for the internationally renowned comedian.
Get In My Head, the newest show from the American-born comic, covered everything from ponies to boners to selfie sticks and, in a fashion typical of Barker’s style, deconstructed each new topic more intricately than the last.
Far from being a one-liner comedian, Barker’s long-winded ramblings seemed to travel further and further from the point (if there ever was one, which at times was quite difficult to tell). As story after story was told, deconstructed and carefully evaluated, the show began to drag.
However, as Barker drove towards an impending climax, jokes and stories from the very beginning of the show slowly started to fit with Barker’s final bits. Then before the audience had time to realise it was happening, almost every one of those drawn out stories, seemingly unnecessary explanations and neurotic deconstructions were all smashed into a final, flabbergasting story that had the audience cheering in their seats. His incoherence proved itself part of a carefully-considered grand scheme, revealed only at the very end.
Barker’s unique style culminated in a highly observant, intelligent, and well-thought-out routine, which – coupled with this comic’s seamless timing and skillfully dramatic mic work – made for one hell of a show.
Barker connected with the audience and their world with bold observations and comparisons, whilst also personalising the show with discussion about his own life and views. The ‘laugh-with-you-not-at-you’ inclination of this comic was refreshing, as Barker relied almost solely on his pre-planned material rather than jabs and attacks on the front row.
As the show rounded to an end, Barker addressed the audience directly, thanking them earnestly and humbly before finishing the show in typical ‘Arj Barker style’; walking down the aisle and out the back of the theatre, yelling for us to hurry up and join him by the merch.
Words by Sarah Ison
Arj Barker was in Perth for two nights as part of the ongoing Perth Comedy Festival.