Arj Barker is a seasoned comedian, approaching nearly twenty years of performing, and ‘We Need to Talk’ is one of his most refined shows yet, delighting enormous audiences at the 2018 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
‘We Need to Talk’ is about personal, human interaction, plain and simple. Barker discusses the boom of technology across the world, first starting in with a little mockery of the locals, noting that his Melbourne hotel room has a dual alarm clock / radio, items that nobody in the world actually needs any more because of their smart phones.
Among discussing his idea for an app – targeted destruction of anyone using their phone to take photos of their food – and humanity’s loss of patience – Uber vs. taxis in particular, where once we were impressed that taxis would show up at all, but now we’re frustrated when Ubers don’t arrive in under five minutes – Barker admits he’s been mellowed by his marriage.
An extremely amusing segment away from commentary on a tech-obsessed society is all about Barker and his ‘camping pants’, which he wears for comfort now that he doesn’t need to use comedy to flirt with anyone. With ridiculously deep pockets and an inbuilt belt, they reflect his comfort onstage as well as in life, and make him an immensely relatable performer – after all, who wouldn’t want to go to work in the most comfortable clothing they own?
Barker has a fondness for yelling that has been groomed meticulously across his years in comedy, although my ears were never blown out – his penchant for moving the microphone away from his face to shout is a perfect mix of passion and consideration. There’s no way to miss what he’s saying, but everyone is still free to hear the rest of the show without a ringing echo in their brain.
Overall, the tone of ‘We Need to Talk’ is friendly and relatable. There’s no aggression, no criticism of individuals or groups (well… mostly), just a look at the way the world currently stands by way of cutting wit and cleverly-honed comedic timing.