Wednesday, April 13, 2005

MICF - Arj Barker: Ego, No Amigo!

There are few comics in the world who carry with them such endless reserves of street credibility that they can enter the stage in a purple shroud and a pair of South American shmants (“Too long to be shorts, too short to be pants…”) and still have the audience on side. Arj Barker is one of the few. Barker has been to Melbourne countless times before, and in that time has built up a loyal following. Audiences know what to expect, and lap it up with enthusiasm. There is a wonderfully simple formula to the way that Barker constructs a joke. The set up is always a conventional anecdote, usually leading to a predictable and mildly humourous expected conclusion. Just as the audience collectively reaches that point, the punchline is subverted in often devilishly clever ways. Take the improvised gag at the performance I saw: Arj drew everyone’s attention to the woman in the front row, who was resting with her chin upon her palm. The woman is slightly bored, the room collectively decides… except for Arj who is convinced that she has had a freak accident, with her hand attached to her face as part of a gross deformity, and this, he further speculated, was her first night out in ten years, convinced by her family that she could enter the world and people would merely think that she was a tad bored rather than a modern day (and female) elephant woman. Only in the world of Arj Barker does this thought materialise.

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