Arj Barker's new show 'We Need To Talk' is his most honest and intimate yet

The honesty and inward awareness Barker displays will allow for an intimate, interactive experience for audiences nationwide.

‘Back by popular demand’ is a bit of an understatement when it comes to Arj Barker. An honorary Australian citizen at this point, the US comedian returns to Melbourne with his wildly successful show, We Need To Talk.

Returning to satiate the desire for more laughs from fans who missed out the first time around, Barker is gearing up to do it again.

“I think the crowds really like it,” he says. “It’s intimate and cozy, fun and perfect. I’m really going to relish this run of shows, for sure.”

“The show is better, but it’s the same show, and it’s for people who didn’t get along in 2018. There were lots of those people; I did the same thing in Adelaide and we had a great turn out. The show is better than ever. It’s my best show yet. That’s how it should be, really. You wouldn’t want to think your shows are getting worse as you go on.”

A favourite on stages and screens over the years, Barker’s comedy has resonated with fans who enjoy a dose of self-deprecation, served with lashings of cynicism and humour. In today’s internet age, where comedians and their material are under the spotlight more than ever, Barker reflects on the shifting goalposts of comedy.

“I just think people are little less tolerant of something that is ‘punching down’, you know? If you’re getting laughs at the expense of a marginalised group, then sure, word might get around. It depends on what level you’re at, too. If you’re just performing at pubs, then probably nothing will happen, but if you have a profile and someone wants to call you out on it? Now’s the time that they’re going to do it.”

“I wasn’t naturally drawn towards doing that in my comedy anyway,” he adds. “There have been a few things I’ve said over the years, a few jokes I’ve had that wouldn’t win PC Joke of the Year for sure. My main target for myself is being an idiot and not understanding how things work. I like to make fun of humans in general; our peculiarities that make us human.”

This is where We Need To Talk shines. Reviews of Barker’s 2018 season were largely positive, with many claiming that the show saw the comedian operating at his best. For Barker, the innate honesty and inward awareness that made him popular early on, hasn’t disappeared from his sets in 2019.

“It’s from the heart and I’m saying things I really believe in,” he says. “The more I go on and the more years I do this, the more I enjoy being able to express an honest opinion about something.”

“There’s definitely some silly stuff in the show, for sure. There’s also some stuff that is from the heart, and people really respond to that. It’s a mixture, really. It’s still comedy, it’s still about coming along and having a laugh. I always try to remember that that is my job. People come along to laugh, not to learn. If they learn despite laughing, that’s a bonus.”

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre
Dates: Tuesday April 9 – Sunday April 21 (bar Monday)
Prices: $38-$54.90