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‘Humiliated’ mum asked to leave comedian’s show

Mum booted from comedy show

Source: 3AW

A breastfeeding mum has revealed she felt humiliated after comedian Arj Barker booted her and her young baby from one of his shows.

Relative Danielle revealed the incident at a Melbourne International Comedy Festival performance on Saturday night.

“[He] demanded my seven-month-old cousin — who relies on her mum for milk (life), my mother, and my Aunty’s friend (also a mum) to leave his show, claiming the he/she was ‘ruining his train of thought’,” she posted on X late on Saturday.

“A woman has purchased a ticket, for a night out with her sister and friend, to laugh and enjoy herself and you badger her and encourage her to leave and get a refund.”

Danielle (whose surname wasn’t given) also thanked several other audience members who left Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre with her family members in a show of solidarity.

Another member of the crowd, who has been named only as David, backed up the story. He told The Age newspaper that the mother and baby were sitting near the front and “the baby was making a bit of noise, as babies do”.

Barker initially joked about the incident. But soon after, “as people were laughing, the baby started making baby noises and maybe a whinge I suppose”. At that point Barker stopped the show and asked the woman to remove the baby.

“It was really awkward,” David said.

He said there was a mixed response from the audience, with eight people who had been sitting near the mother and baby also leaving.

“There were a couple of ladies that yelled out ’yeah, just get out of here’,” David said.

“I just couldn’t believe it. The abuse this lady got from the crowd … I was like, are we serious here as people?”

Later on Monday, the mum, Trish, told Melbourne’s 3AW radio that she felt humiliated by the order.

“He came and stood in front of me and he was telling me to leave,” she said.

“People were laughing and I thought ‘I don’t think he’s joking, but everyone else seems to think he’s joking’, so I said to him, ‘do you really, do you actually want me to leave? … and he said yes.”

Barker defended his decision in a statement to ABC radio on Monday.

“The show is strictly age 15-plus, as clearly stated on the ticket site. She had an infant with her, the baby was disrupting my performance,” he said.

“On behalf of the other 700 people who paid to see the gig, I politely told her the baby couldn’t stay. She thought I was kidding, which made the exchange a bit awkward.

“I felt bad about the whole situation and stated this on the night more than once. I offered her a refund. Theatre staff should not have seated a baby in my audience in the first place.”

Barker also doubled down on 3AW.

“I worked on these jokes and there’s timing and there’s pauses and it’s just not gonna work with a baby,” he told the radio station.

“I made the decision not for myself but for the audience who wanted to see the show. And also I shouldn’t have been in that position, to be honest.”

Barker’s show The Mind Field is part of the Melbourne comedy festival. According to promotional material, it “sets out to answer some of life’s biggest questions”.

Topics: Arj Barker
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