Arj Barker is best known in the USA for his role as Dave on the HBO series Flight of the Conchords, but he has also been doing stand up for over a decade and has a huge following in Australia. He has an animated online series called “Arj and Poopy” that has been described as, “Short and classic. Just what you expect from Arj and Poopy. This one might not be suitable for small children or cops.”
Barker performed at Comedy Works in Downtown Denver to an enthusiastic crowd on Friday night. It’s practically impossible for any comedian to do a stand up act and not reference the recent death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Barker didn’t take the standard pot shot at Jackson, instead he found humor in the massive amounts of text messages, emails, instant messages and tweets that filled cyber space when the story broke. He joked about how people he hadn’t heard from in years sent him text messages saying, “Michael Jackson died!” He compared it to a race as to who would be the first one to get the breaking news to the largest number of their acquaintances. He went on to deliver more insightful humor on everything from not having kids to global warming, questioning the true source of the problem saying, “It’s the sun’s fault, after all you don’t blame the bread for burnt toast!”
He gave Trashwire a few minutes before the first show and was funny, friendly, and laid back.
Read a transcript of the interview here:
I know you played Red Rocks, what did you think of that venue?
Oh it’s beautiful, definitely the coolest looking venue I have ever seen. I have never seen anything like that. The crowd was super pumped. That was the biggest audience that I played to and I think it was their [Flight of the Conchords] biggest audience. I think it was their biggest dedicated show they had ever done, but you might want to confirm that though.
There is a lot of history up at Red Rocks.
Yeah, we were back stage looking at all the pictures, all the cool bands that had played there, Radio Head, forget about it.
You’re a big Radio Head Fan?
Did the altitude bother you when you were up there?
No, not really, they all said, “Oh here’s the oxygen, don’t worry!” but not really, you could feel a little more winded, but you know when you’re moderately young and healthy, I mean you know, I don’t smoke.
I understand you had the record for number of people flipping the bird at one time up at Red Rocks?
I did and I can actually send you a picture of that, it was pretty cool.
You have a series on line, Arj and Poopy?
Yeah it’s an animated series. Kids love it. Parents love it. There’s a little swearing, so it’s better really young, I mean you don’t want to teach your kids words, maybe you do.
Do you have a cat named Poopy?
I have a beautiful cat named Ringo. (Shows us a picture on his iPhone). Just about the cutest cat I’ve ever seen.
Do you have any rituals you do before a show?
I like to do an interview with trashwire.com and hang out. I might look at my notebook a few times, but then I look at it, see what is in there, look at it for half an hour, then (holds up a drawing of a guy with spiral circle eyes and holds it to the camera). I don’t think it will help the show, but there is something mesmerizing about it.
Have you ever performed at the Comedy Works before?
Yeah, a few years ago we did a show called Marijuana-Logues here. It’s all about pot. All pot jokes really.
You had Tommy Chong in it right?
Yeah he did it for a while. He did it a few times.
So we have a Twitter following and we asked what questions they would want us to ask you and they want to know who makes you laugh more Bret McKenzie or Jemaine Clement?
I spend more time one on one with Jemaine, not because I like him better or anything, but they’re both great guys. They are both such awesome guys—both super talented and funny—so I’d have to say it’s pretty dead on, pretty close.
One last question, how did you get the role on the show (Flight of the Conchords)? Were you just friends with those guys from way back?
Yeah I was just friends with them since the early 2000s, and they just had me in mind somehow. It was like a miracle, I don’t even know why, because they knew a ton of comedians and they are real friendly with everyone they meet. I worked with them in New Zealand, in the same venue originally in 2003. I think it was 2003, I’m not good with years, I’m better with decades. I can tell you generally what decade something happened, spot on, and nail it! The more smaller increments of time you go, the more dodgier it gets. But anyway, they were like, “Hey we’re thinking we might have a part for you in our show.” It wasn’t like I had to audition and compete against others. They called it the “Arj part”, supposedly when they were developing it, but then they named the character Dave. But like how bad of an actor would I have to be if I was like, I didn’t get the “Arj part”?
Arj Barker performed a stellar set on Friday night and he will be at Comedy Works Downtown Denver throughout the weekend, so try to get down there, you won’t be disappointed.