Organic (Arj Barker)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre
December 1 – 17
The audience in the Powerhouse Theatre for opening night of Arj’s Barker’s tenth Australian show is eclectic and wide-ranging in its age demographic. This not only stands as testament to the American comic’s Australian popularity, but the accessibility of his material, which is not controversial or confrontational, but still very, very funny.
In talk of relationships and marriage, Uber and television spoilers, “Organic” is filled with hilarious commentary. Although early references to Benny Hill and the tv show “Monkey” are more appreciated by those audience members of a similar vintage, the well-structured set features a free-range comic style with something for everyone, satisfying for all.
There is only token reference to current affairs and US politics from the Californian and the show is all the better because of it. Instead, the comedian draws upon his knowledge of our politics and culture to build an instant rapport with the Bris-vegas audience as he tries to trademark his own new Aussie saying, peppering the work with hilarious one-liners and throw-backs to previous content in show of the subtle craftedness of the experience. A finale titular song ‘Organic’ is an excellent example of this, even if it ends the show on a whimper more than a bang.
Barker is an animated and energetic, but still charming performer and it is easy to appreciate his popularity as even when audience members are called out, his humour is such that is seems like he is laughing with, rather than at, them. This connection is the most endearing component of his comedy. And when he philanthropically announces at show’s end that $1 from every ticket is going to the charity Doctors Without Borders, his integrity is heart-warming.
The show’s title emerges from Barker’s discussion of recent lifestyle changes towards eating organically and going gluten free. This leads to perhaps the show’s funniest segment, where he throws himself into presentation of his caveman bread theory, which is infectiously passionate and well-timed.
If comedians are the new rock stars, then Arj Barker is a supernova of the Australian comedy landscape and with a two week show-run, there is plenty of opportunity to do your face a favour and check out a show that will have you laughing loudly and smiling from start to finish.