‘Has been a little intense’: Embattled Arj Barker returns to the stage

Arj Barker's post-baby controversy return

Source: Instagram

Days after coming under fire for asking a woman with a noisy baby to leave his stand-up show, embattled American-born Australian-based comedian Arj Barker has returned to the stage.

In a set at The Comic’s Lounge in North Melbourne this week, the country’s adopted son of comedy turned what has been a bad week into a moment of clarity.

“Back on the horse, doing what I do best,” the 49-year-old posted on Instagram later on Wednesday, including a video showing the final two minutes of his show.

It followed a storm earlier this week after Melbourne mother Trish Faranda was asked several times on April 20 to leave Barker’s The Mind Field gig at the Athenaeum Theatre after seven-month-old baby Clara became noisy.

Barker said it wasn’t an issue of breastfeeding or him losing his train of thought – he’s been on the comedy circuit for decades in noisier surrounds. Rather, it was out of respect to the 700 others who were also there to enjoy his show.

“It was purely an audio issue,” he has said repeatedly.

In the controversy that erupted, Faranda and Barker conducted duelling media blitzes on radio, TV and social media, to put forward their case.

FM breakfast shows tried to get the pair to meet in the middle, and night-time TV shows did trainwreck interviews with Faranda holding a squirming, gurgling baby.

Faranda’s story continues to generate opinion pieces and support on mothers group websites such as Kidspot, while Barker incorporated his personal experience into his routine.

“This whole thing has been a little intense … although in this area over here [pointing to the audience] I can hear someone’s stomach rumbling. I just want you to know this is your last warning,” he said in his Instagram clip, to cheers and hoots from the audience.

“And … I’d say it’s about 12 seats back on that side, there’s a gentleman … mid-30s … when you inhale there’s a slight whistling with your nose.

“Get the f–k out,” to even louder applause.

On a more sombre note to finish, Barker said he needed to get home as he still had 2400 unread emails in his “hate-mail box”.

“There’s lots of supportive ones too … I’m grateful … I didn’t come here to change anyone’s mind … but a few of the emails I read said ‘go home’.

“I said, I will, because I am home,” he said, a little emotional.

“I love Australia and I’m going to keep touring around it.”

Trish Faranda with baby Clara

Source: The Project

Faranda ‘humiliated’

Faranda told multiple outlets she felt intimidated and humiliated after Barker asked her and baby Clara to leave the venue.

Speaking to Ally Langdon on A Current Affair, Faranda said “you kind of lose yourself a bit in motherhood”.

“You are so focused on everybody else’s needs that you don’t really have time for your own,” she said.

When the baby started “babbling”, Barker took control of the situation.

“He said ‘Oh no, it’s really disruptive, you’re interrupting my rhythm’ … then he threw back to the crowd and was basically trying to get their support to say ‘get out’.”

“Had he just nicely said, off the mic, ‘Do you mind leaving?’, I would’ve been gone and it wouldn’t have been an issue,” she said.

“It was embarrassing, you know. People were yelling out. It’s not fun to walk out like that.”

Bad publicity is good publicity

Although satirical publication The Shovel suggested a 24-hour news channel should be launched to provide rolling coverage of the fallout, Barker’s shows as far ahead as September are rapidly selling out.

Barker says his show “sets out to answer some of life’s biggest questions like Why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? Why does it hurt when we pee?”

It is unknown whether he will answer the big questions about his “baby-gate” drama, but there is a clear warning on the website for booking tickets to one of dozens of his upcoming shows across Victoria and New South Wales, and four nights in Brisbane.

“NOTE: There are no babes in arms permitted for this event and there is a 15+ age restriction.”

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