Headlining Laugh Your Pants Off at Jupiters Hotel & Casino, Arj Barker will be bringing his unique and inimitable stand-up show to the Gold Coast in March. And be warned, you may enjoy yourself so much you find yourself pantless.
Joining the American comedian will be fellow international laughter-makers Joe Shaffer and Mike Wilmot, as well as local talents Damian Callinan, Fiona McGary, Lindsay Webb, Joel Ozborn, Mark McConville and Tripod, who will all be bringing the Aussie comedy flavour.
In between protein shakes and turning down offers to host his own television show, Arj chats to us about how he creates an entire show full of jokes and why comedians are basically all insecure children.
“I’m just having my protein shake. You have to put a scoop of honey in it, though, so it will stick to your insides. Otherwise you’ll just poop it out.”
The man is nothing if not authentic, and no topic appears off limits. His comedy can be both tongue-in-cheek and brutally honest but this chat is full of cheeky jabs and fun teasing.
“Hold on – you have a magazine AND an online site? That’s pretty cool,” he laughs. “OK, I’ll be taking this interview seriously now.”
Once the banter subsides, we move on to Laugh Your Pants Off.
“You know as much about it as I do,” he admits. “It’s a comedy show with a bunch of comics and I appear to be headlining it. And so I have to be on my game that night because it is a strong group of comics.”
His material – planned or created spontaneously on stage?
“Oh no, I am definitely going to be planning a super set. I’ve got to go out there with a good plan because I’m following at least eight to 10 headlining acts and I’ve got to bring it. I’ve got no choice.”
When we ask him about the competition between comedians, he’s transparent about his occasional moments of insecurity and self-doubt. Of course, he isn’t really competing against the other comedians at Laugh Your Pants Off — in a sense, they’re all teaming up to make you laugh.
“That’s true and that’s definitely the healthy way to look at it,” he replies. ”But it’s hard to tell yourself that when you hear the audience out there dying from another comedian. You start thinking, ‘god damn, I can’t get that many laughs. Man, this is going to be tough tonight!’ So the way you look at it, that’s the healthy way for sure, and that’s the way the audience is looking at it too, y’know. They’re like, ‘Oh, we’re having a great time. Oh yeah, here’s another great guy.’ But the comedian who’s up next is out the back thinking, ‘Holy shit, they love that guy more than anyone ever. They love him more than me.’
“Basically we’re just like a bunch of really insecure children back stage… I can’t speak for everyone, but I get flustered when people are destroying the stage before me.”
But does that fear drive him to do better, or just drive him to drink?
“I think there’s some motivation to write something good, for sure.”
We discuss his creative process — is he more of a strategist, or a free-flowing creative type? Fundamentally, we want to know how he wrote his show (and if it’s possible for us to also write hilarious comedy and get paid to fly around the world to perform).
“For me, it’s individual ideas that come together to form a show. A joke might be a quick throwaway or it might be a two minute or five minute subject, it just depends. It might be a story, it might be based on something real from my life, or it might be something I just thought of one day. It can come from any range of ideas, but the show itself is a collage of different ideas.”
And do the ideas flow better at morning or at night?
“I don’t like getting out of bed, but once I’m out of bed, I feel pretty chipper. But I also like being up at night, so I’m not sure. Maybe I need to write at lunch time to get the best results.”
Arj Barker headlines Laugh Your Pants Off at Jupiters Hotel & Casino on Friday 20 March. For more details, check out our event guide listing.