Comedy Festival 2008, Auckland Town Hall
April 23-26 | Reviewed by Darren Bevan

YES, he’s Dave and the only one actually representing the Flight of the Conchords phenomenon at this year’s Comedy Festival. And yet, Arj Barker is very dissimilar to his TV persona – preferring instead to head off on slightly surreal flights of fancy and weird tangents which actually make a lot of sense.

Ambling on stage, he took in the crowd and his surroundings before telling us his dog recently exploded – a slightly weird start but one which made sense when he explained that after all, the dog was part Black Lab, part Meth Lab.

From then on, it was a rambling journey through what was, at times, a clearly deranged psyche. But early on, the show was nearly derailed by a string of interruptions from mobile phones which actually clearly agitated Arj and prompted him to launch into a diatribe which took in masturbation (a blue light exuding from someone’s lap in the prior night’s show) and ended on the threat that he would come down from the stage, beat the next person on the phone with a microphone and then change the phone’s language to Chinese (“and you know I’m not joking about that”)

So there’s the thing about Arj – he’s the kind of guy you could have a beer with (and who was more than happy to sign autographs, DVDs and chat with fans after the show) but you sense there’s probably a tipping point which would see him go over the surreal edge and you’d be lost.

The show covered various topics like how the Discovery Channel is undermining America’s security by revealing to terrorists where the weaknesses are, ‘Kantas’ airlines in Australia (because the U is missing), the continuing vaguaries of the free for all that is crossing at Auckland’s roads, Scientology (it’s all about rocks, people) and a wonderful piece about trying out mattresses in stores.

The only minor gripe is his tendency to occasionally talk away from the microphone meant the sound came and went – but you know if you recommended hands free to him, he’d just go on about phone etiquette...