Standup Arj Barker: Australian superstar


“We’re going to have a lot of fun,” says comedian Arj Barker of his upcoming shows in Minneapolis. “I have some new material that’s pretty dark, and I think people there will really like it. It’s always fun to come to Acme, because people there get the jokes.”

The subject matter is only somewhat dark, he explains, but in the end it’s still funny and something he’s really interested in talking about.

“I like talking about mortality and stuff. Not in a negative way, but in a realistic way. We’re all headed to the same place, why don’t we discuss it?”

He feels that the fact that he’s in his 40s has something to do with this interest. “I have more perspective on it, I think. At some point in your life you realize this isn’t going to last forever. In the past few years I’ve started to realize that. It’s not meant to be dark necessarily, it’s just reality. And when you look at it that way, you appreciate life more.”

Barker has been appreciating life a lot more these days. For the past year he’s been in a steady relationship, which is new territory for him. The California native now feels even more at home in Australia, where he regularly sells out theaters, but not because he’s lived there for so long.

“My girlfriend and my dog are a family,” he explains. “So, it’s not so much I miss Australia, I miss them and I don’t want to be away for too long.”


A confirmed bachelor for 20 years or so, Barker now finds that he has time to pursue other things besides women.

“I think I’m more productive actually,” he states. “I was thinking about that the other day. Being single is what gave me the motivation to be on the road so much when I was younger. ‘What adventure awaits?’ I would think. I can’t say that wasn’t beneficial to me, because I never had anybody at home to miss, so I could go out on the road for ages — like two or three months at a time — and never think much about it. Now everything has worked out fine.”

At the same time, Barker has taken to Australia as much as Australia has taken to him. “It’s not that different from California,” he says. “For me, the biggest differences aren’t cultural, it’s the completely different branches of the evolutionary tree. But then we have a lot of eucalyptus trees in Northern California, so that reminds me of home.”

There are some cultural differences, but also many similarities between Aussies and Americans.

“The people are into the same TV shows and there are some cultural differences, but it’s not shocking. You can quickly make sense of it,” he says.

Indeed, Barker was pleasantly surprised by many aspects of the Australian psyche. “Australians are less afraid to greet each other on the street,” he explains. “Just having a chat with a stranger is common. I think we’re a little weary of strangers in this country. You step into an elevator, and most people just go dead quiet. In Australia — not all the time — but people will start chatting. You can make a joke with a stranger and they won’t look at you like you’re crazy. I like that.”


Arj Barker

Acme Comedy Co.

708 North First St., Minneapolis

8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 10:30 Friday and Saturday


For tickets, call 612-338-6393 or visit