SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

09/05/2013 - 11/05/2013

Opera House, Wellington

08/05/2013 - 09/05/2013

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

The lights dim. The music fades. The audience applauds with anticipation. Or they just get alarmingly quiet. Every show you’ve ever done leads up to this point. But this is the only show that matters now. Have you got the goods, kid? They’re about to find out. It’s Go Time.

Arj Barker returns! Since his last New Zealand appearance Arj has been touring constantly, both solo and with his old pals, The Flight of The Conchords. He returns to the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival with his brand new show, Go Time. According to Arj, Go Time is both “what audiences expect from me AND the last thing they expect from me, which if my calculations are correct, will make for a great show.”

Arj Barker is arguably our favourite American comedian. In recent years, he has spent more time down under than his own country and has come to understand our culture perhaps better than we understand it ourselves. His stand-up is both insightful and pointed, like a mind-reading thumbtack, if there was one of those.

‘A true alchemist who takes observations and transmutes them into comedy gold…’ Independent on Sunday, London

‘Slick, talented & completely in control’ Scotland Times

‘If comedians are the new rock stars, then Arj Barker is stand-up’s Dave Grohl’ The Age 

As part of the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival

Date: 8 May 8PM
Venue: The Opera House, 111-113 Manners Street, CBD 

Date: Thu 9 – Sat 11 May, 8PM
Venue: SKYCITY Theatre, Level 3, Cnr Wellesley St West & Hobson St, CBD

Tickets: $34.50 – $36.50 (booking fees may apply)
Bookings:0800 TICKETEK (842 538)  

For the sweetest deals and hottest comedy news throughout the Festival head to 

Effortless and easy

Review by Caoilinn Hughes 09th May 2013

Most of the audience at the jam-packed Opera House would know American comedian Arj Barker from his role in Flight of the Concords, as Dave: the pawnshop owner who trades mostly in bumper sticker cultural assertions, lady-snaring equipment, and self-written manuals on how to grow sausages in your own organic garden.© Dave is kooky, unique and unflinching.

But we don’t get Dave in Arj Barker’s world-touring show, Go Time, and judging by the feedback, the majority of audience members are happy about that.

Barker is an affable American funnyman, inclined towards hippy-go-lucky philosophy. The philosophy encapsulated in Go Time – and I do love a good moral-of-the- comedy – prioritizes the heart over the head.

Jobs are there to be completed, not created. Tomorrow is a concept that you don’t have to get onboard with. Don’t wait until tomorrow, ask me tonight; I might be game. Have that beer before you go on-stage, because the sun will explode all over the face of the earth sooner or later.

Carpe diem. Follow your heart to the arcade and have yourself a maudlin sandwich. Unapologetic schmaltz. So far, a far cry from Dave. 

Aside from his sensibility, the style and subject matter of Barker’s sketches is much safer than Dave’s. He doesn’t want to get involved with the Aussie-Kiwi rivalry. He has no comment. He supports UNICEF and he wouldn’t joke about that kind of diarrhoea.

Truth be told, he covers his back too much, as if a political correctness bee stung him in the past and now he needs to circle around the hive and point at it. He makes very few people uncomfortable (this makes him perfect for corporate outings and families), aside from his closing diarrhoea joke. Sigh. This is out of place, as there isn’t another moment of cringe comedy in the show, and it doesn’t tie into the Go Time… unless he means ‘need to go time’?

There is a lot of meta-comedy in the show that goes down really well with the audience. I think that self-referentiality is well-suited to a New Zealand audience, as the Kiwi sense of humour loves to draw attention to awkwardness, awkwardly. So the idea of jokes failing, or a comedian realizing he hasn’t done enough research halfway through a joke is lapped up.

His explanation of the structure of his jokes is popular too. He uses one particular joke structure throughout the show, copyrighting it as he goes… which would be more successful if it was used more frequently and understatedly. 

In general, Barker is very confident and charismatic on-stage. He gives bucket-loads of energy (without ever mentioning the bucket fountain, yay!) and his audience is amused throughout. Because his delivery is so good, the limitations really come down to his writing. If he sharpened and pushed the writing here and there, it would really take his comedy up a notch.

As it stands, his funny-guy-next-door performance seems effortless and easy, which is both a strength and a weakness.


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