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Arj Barker's Power Hour

Award-winning comedian Arj Barker has popped up in comedy festivals, TV shows and streaming platforms throughout his 30-plus-year comedy career.

This month, he returns to the Top End this month with his brand new show, The Best of Arj Barker – Power Hour. Tierney Seccull caught up with him to chat comedy, UFOs and fake coffee names.

Hi, Arj Barker, it’s Tierney from Off The Leash Mag in Darwin.
Oh cool, yeah. What’s your name?

Tierney – like a tear from your eye and your knee.
Cool, Tierney, nice to meet ya!

Nice to meet you, too. But when I order coffee, it’s Sally – my name is Sally.
Oh, that’s cool, I’m Bruce when I order coffee.

[Laughs] The struggle is real, Arj. Thanks for making some time to chat with me – can you tell us a little bit about your new show?
You bet. Basically, it’s a compilation of some of my favourite jokes, and some of the audience’s favourite jokes – I mean, those two are often one and the same – from all throughout my career that I’ve handpicked, polished, refurbed and added some stuff. I put it together into what I call the Power Hour.

It’s a blast from beginning to end, and something I didn’t rush into – I mean I’ve been doing comedy for like, 33 years, and it’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, so I thought it was time. It just felt right.

Yeah nice. Taking jokes from your more than 30-year career – any that perhaps didn’t age so well?
Yeah, there’s jokes I’m not as keen to visit. There’s one or two that didn’t age well in light of being more conscious … I was happy to let those go because I’m trying to improve, like most of everyone else. I’ve got technically 11 recorded one-hour comedy specials with minimal overlap of material, so there’s a lot to pick from. At the end of the day … the shows are really fun, I’m really enjoying it.

How’s it feel to still be doing what you love after three decades?
It depends on the day and what sort of mood I’m in … Doing anything for 30 years, there’s moments that I wouldn’t mind taking an extended or permanent break – I’m always enticed by the challenge of new things. But most of the time … generally, I’m just very grateful to be honest.

Well, if you did stop after more than 30 years, what would you do?
Yeah, I mean that’s a fair question, and I should have thought of that – I don’t have too many other skills. I have hobbies, but I don’t think many of them are ready to start earning me a living.

I enjoy fooling around with wood projects? So, I’d call it amateur carpentry. And I love playing guitar. I don’t think I have the chops to play professionally yet, but I hope to one day. I practice just about every day. At the very least, I’ll be introducing it to my shows in the future – that’s a sneaky way to get to play guitar in front of an audience!

[Laughs] People think they’re going so see Arj Barker the comedian, but they’re actually seeing Arj Barker the musician?
Well I think the rule is, if I’m doing something on stage at a comedy show that it has to result in laughs – that’s gotta be the goal – but they can’t stop me from enjoying playin’ those tasty licks, those sweet jazz chords, or whatever.

Any other skills you picked up during the COVID days or was it wood-working and guitar only?
I dunno if it’s a skill, but I’m really into meditating. I’ve meditated more in the last few years, and I’ve also been interested in that much longer, but I make it a priority now. I wanna see what happens when you meditate a lot every day.

Cool. And I guess that’s had a good impact on you given you do it every day?
Well people ask me that – well, you and one other person, so two people have asked me that – and I don’t know because it’s a subtle thing. I can only imagine it’s having a positive effect, but it’s sorta hard to know ... I don’t know how I’d feel if I wasn’t doing it?

But I feel pretty calm, most the time … Honestly, I’d love to have a major transcendental experience or something, without having to do like, half a kilo of mushrooms – I may just end up going that route if it doesn’t happen soon.

[Laughs] Well keep us updated on that one! You’ve been trying to get back to Darwin for a couple of years now, in 2020 and 2021 – are you keen to finally hit the NT stage?
Oh, I love going up there, are ya kiddin’? It’s like nowhere else, isn’t it? It almost feels like – and I don’t want to offend anyone – but it almost feels like you’ve gone to a whole other country when you land up there.

There’s a wild feeling, it’s beautiful … I’m big on wildlife and nature, I wish I had more chances to go around and see a little more.

Will you get to head out this visit? See the crocs?
If we have time, we’ll probably drive out of the city. One of my hobbies is wildlife photography, if you look on my Instagram you can see. It’s mostly birds but I also take pictures of any animal that I can.

And also UFOs. I keep my eyes in the sky too, ‘cause there’s a lot of UFO activity up there. I’ll be pretty busy between those things, you know – lookin’ out for crocs, lookin’ out for the mothership.

The Best of Arj Barker - Power Hour
COST $54.90 |$49.90 GROUP

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