Let Me Do The Talking | Arj Barker


Let Me Do The Talking | Arj BarkerThe glow of iPhone screens splashed across youthful faces whose lean bodies were wearing witty t-shirts – all awaiting the arrival of the equally trendy grunge man of stand-up comedy, American Arj Barker for his Let Me Do The Talking show.

In keeping with stand-up purity, the stage of Canberra Theatre was minimal, meaning that the comedians had to provide the laughs with their own wit and originality. Would the audience be entertained?

As the lights and phones dimmed, we were surprised by the bonus of warm-up act Joel Osbourne, who has recently been entertaining the troops in Afghanistan and has appeared on national TV shows. Osbourne had us in stitches with his ability to improvise with wit, and adapt to the audience tones and actions. Other jokes were set-up and bounced back later on, inspiring a new fit of chuckles, and he kept the tempo up with his pacing of the floor and barking out exaggerated voices.

There must be a comedian rulebook out there; one that says ‘thou shalt include local jokes’. Thankfully we escaped the usual ‘oh you live with politicians’ spiel and enjoyed some good-old town rivalry gags. Even when one of the jokes didn’t quite go as planned, Osbourne turned it around and recovered well, with all the magic of a tumbled gymnast.

After Osbourne’s set, the giggle motors were suitably revved and waiting for the experienced and well-known Arj Barker to take to the stage for his Let Me Do The Talking show. Barker is popular in Australia, just like other international acts Billy Connolly and Jimeoin – who have harmonised to the style of Australian humour. Indeed, Barker played on his observations of Aussie culture with moments of ‘that is soooo true’. Also hitting the sweet spot of the mainly Gen Y audience was his take on the environmental movement and the hypocrisy of small-minded trendies and businesses who use ‘green’ for ‘greed’.

Barker explained early in the show that the theme would be about ‘positivity’, but it was clutching at straws to see the relation – not that this mattered really. We’re there for a laugh, not a performed essay. A random-lyric ‘what the…?’ song summed up Barker’s entire set at the end; it was funny, but completely unconnected to anything.

Barker had planned his show thoroughly, and there wasn’t much audience interaction or improvisation. This led to a waning in interest, particularly as the show was so long, without the advertised interval - anyone who has sat in the Canberra Theatre knows that you go there for a good time, not a long time. With a bit of editing, Barker’s show would have been a polished gem.

Arj Barker’s Let Me Do The Talking certainly gives value for money, with plenty of tear-wiping laughs sure to please his long-time fans, and win over some new ones.


Arj Barker
Let Me Do The Talking

Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre | Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra
Dates: 26 - 27 October 2010
Bookings: 02 6275 2700



Most read reviews

Mark Colvin’s Kidney | The Drill Hall Theatre Company

How many of life’s hiccups are triggered by a series of events, out of our control, on their own trajectory to wherever they may land? One only has to watch the news – politics and mayhem – to see what can (and does) occur without any rhyme or reason.

Tick Tick Boom | subtlenuance

Over the past decade, the Sydney based theatre company, subtlenuance, has been an indispensable and vibrant part of the independent theatre landscape, dedicated solely to the creation of new work.

The Feather in the Web | Griffin Theatre Company

Another feather in the cap for playwright, Nick Coyle, The Feather In The Web flaps, floats and flies around the turbulent and treacherous cross currents of obsession and unrequited love.

Suddenly Last Summer | Red Stitch Theatre

Suddenly Last Summer is a study of the extraordinary lengths some will go to in order to shut down truth and is layered with graphic brutal allegory.

Evie May – A Tivoli Story | Hayes Theatre and New Musicals Australia

There are a lot of clichés you could toss at Evie May – A Tivoli Story, but this show rises above them to deliver an entertaining and moving show that embraces its inherent melodrama and theatricality, and is all the better for it.

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required