Free­dom to laugh at this year’s Com­edy Gala

The Southland Times - - TELEVISION -

Arj Barker is prob­a­bly best known to most TV view­ers from his stint on the com­edy se­ries Flight Of The Con­chords.

In the US-made com­edy in which New Zealan­ders Je­maine Cle­ment and Bret McKen­zie are two strug­gling mu­si­cians liv­ing in New York, Cal­i­for­nian na­tive Barker plays pawn shop worker Dave.

For Cle­ment and McKen­zie, Flight Of The Con­chords led to fur­ther film and tele­vi­sion work.

But Barker, who is host­ing this year’s Com­edy Gala, in­ten­tion­ally did not pur­sue a ca­reer on screen.

‘‘I’m a very keen stand-up co­me­dian so I just con­tin­ued to go back to work and on the road to do my shows.

‘‘I love the free­dom that standup af­fords where you write your own gear, you’re your own di­rec­tor.

‘‘You go where you want. Once you’re on stage, you do what­ever you want.

‘‘Act­ing is fun. It’s a sep­a­rate craft and I’m not try­ing to take away from that. But there is not as much free­dom as an ac­tor as there is as a stand-up be­cause as an ac­tor you’re be­holden to the script, the net­work, the di­rec­tor and the pro­duc­tion com­pany and the sched­ule – and the sched­ul­ing is ridicu­lous for TV and film.

Barker, 43, is look­ing for­ward to host­ing the 2018 Com­edy Gala, which of­fers a taster of some of the acts per­form­ing in the New Zealand In­ter­na­tional Com­edy Fes­ti­val.

The show fea­tures lo­cal co­me­di­ans such as Dai Hen­wood, Pax As­sadi, and Rhys Mathew­son as well as 7 Days favourite Heath Franklin, who is oth­er­wise known as Chop­per.

As part of the Com­edy Fes­ti­val, Barker will be per­form­ing Or­ganic, his own stand-up show.

‘‘ Or­ganic is more than a ref­er­ence to food or liv­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s also a nod to stand-up as an or­ganic art form be­cause it’s just you and the au­di­ence. There are not any props or any­thing although I do have a gui­tar and play a sin­gle tune at the end of the show. It’s a show that I’ve toured for over a year and it’s in re­ally good shape.’’

US co­me­dian Arj Barker will be the master of cer­e­monies for the Com­edy Gala.

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