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.
“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.
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