Arj Barker got his start in comedy by performing at venues throughout the Bay Area in California.

Laughter started comedy career

Californian Arj Barker cracks jokes at the Port Theatre.

It was laughter that led California’s Arj Barker to stand-up comedy.

“I just tried it for a laugh,” Barker told the News Bulletin. “I didn’t expect to be a real professional comedian or anything. I just gave it a shot and it went really well and I kept doing it.”

Since his first gig more than two decades ago, Barker has managed to appear on David Letterman, have multiple Comedy Central specials and land a role on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords.

Tonight (Jan. 13), Barker will be performing at the Port Theatre with fellow comedians Craig Campbell, Paul Myrehaug and Dan Quinn.

“I am looking forward to it,” Barker said. “Nanaimo is the first place I ever played in outside of Vancouver in British Columbia.”

Barker grew up in San Anselmo, Calif., a town located 30 kilometres north of San Francisco.

After graduating from Sir Francis Drake High School in 1989, Barker began doing stand-up routines at various venues throughout the Bay Area.

“It was a labour of love,” Barker recalled. “I really liked doing it. So I would be happy to drive one hour or two hours to do a five-minute spot.”

As a comedian, Barker likes to touch on a wide range of subjects in his routines.

“I am tackling subjects that are universal, rather than talk about specific towns or countries. I am trying to find the trends that we are all experiencing,” he said. “It’s just human stuff. I have some jokes about how vain we are as a society.”

Barker said the hardest thing about comedy for him was getting started.

“Deciding to do it and then doing it was terrifying,” he said.

Although Barker would often find himself driving for hours to gigs, he said it never felt like work.

“I would take it when I could get it,” he said. “In one way I put in a lot of hard work, but it was so fun that it didn’t feel like work.”

Barker is best known for his role as Dave on Flight of the Conchords.

“It was cool to be a part of something that a lot of people liked,” Barker said.

In addition to his time on Conchords, Barker has made two appearances on David Letterman, something he is extremely proud of.

“I didn’t think it was possible,” Barker said. “I never thought a guy like me could do a spot on Letterman.”

Arj Barker performs with Craig Campbell, Paul Myrehaug and Dan Quinn at the Port Theatre tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35.

For more information, please visit and for more information on Barker please visit

arts@nanaimobulletin.comFollow @npescod on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP community policing needs a few good volunteers

Volunteers needed to help Nanaimo RCMP and city deliver crime prevention and safety programs

RDN signs deal with Nanaimo Recycling Exchange to conduct waste audits

RDN working on mandatory waste-separation bylaw for industrial, commercial, institutional sectors

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to Nanaimo

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Conservation officers free fawn stuck in fence in Nanaimo

Fawn was uninjured after getting caught in fence in Hammond Bay area Wednesday

Nanaimo resident wins human rights tribunal case over wheelchair accessibility at condo complex

Tribunal awards $35,000, says concerns weren’t addressed until human rights complaint had been lodged

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Nanaimo council gives school district permission to demolish Franklyn Street gym

Heritage alteration permit issued for unused, fire-damaged building

Arson suspected in fire that destroyed Nanaimo second-hand store

RCMP, Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigating early morning fire set at entrance of Townsite Road shop

Most Read