There's an interesting article about Arj here
at the Marin Independent Journal.
Nice to hear that he will be back for Season Two.
Paul Liberatore: HBO series vaults Marin comedian Arj Barker to big time
Article Launched: 02/14/2008 11:22:01 PM PST
Marin comedian Arj Barker has his first big break with a part in the comedy series 'Flight of the Conchords,' a cult hit heading into its second season on HBO. After paying his dues in comedy clubs and festivals for a decade, Marin comedian Arj Barker finally has his first big break with a part in the comedy series "Flight of the Conchords," a cult hit heading into its second season on HBO.
"Conchords" follows the exploits of a clueless New Zealand folk/rock duo trying to make it in Manhattan.
On the show, Barker, who will do his stand-up act on Feb. 24 at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, plays Dave, a loser friend of the band's who lives with his parents and works in their pawnshop. He was in nine of the first 12 episodes.
"It's a small part, but to be a small part of something that's so well received, and to be on a show I actually believe is funny, is really fortunate," he says from his Aunt's house in Fairfax, where he stays when he's in town. "This show is unique, and I couldn't feel luckier that I'm on it. It's a great feeling."
The show, which was renewed after its debut season last summer, stars Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. They play themselves, the two singing, guitar-strumming members of Flight of the Conchords, billed as "New Zealand's fourth most popular folk parody duo."
On Sunday night, in real life, they were the first most popular comedy
duo in America, winning a Grammy for their EP "Distant Future."
Barker, who performs for several months every year in Australia and has a growing following there, met Clement and McKenzie at a comedy festival in Sydney and became friends with them when they all played the same club in New Zealand in 2004.
"I knew they were doing well, but I have to admit I was as surprised as I was delighted when Jemaine told me that they had a part for me in their show," he recalls.
In its debut season, the dry-humored, low-tech series has earned cautiously positive reviews in the major media.
The New York Times: "The show is funny in such an understated way that it is almost dangerous to make too much of it ..."
Entertainment Weekly describes it as "underacted, underproduced, understated and underground in tone," adding that it's "very smart and very funny."
Variety.com calls it "quite weird and occasionally wonderful."
The Hollywood Reporter didn't think much of the show in general, finding the two leads "too sweaty," but liked the incorporation of the pair's music into the storylines, admitting that "their mocking tunes are surprisingly well-crafted."
The music, which leans to '80s pop, white rap and reggae, was the first thing that drew me in. I had the show on once while I did other things around the house, stopping in my tracks and paying attention when Jemaine crooned to a babe at a party:
"You could be a part-time model / But you'd probably still have to keep your normal job."
After that, I started taking the show seriously, watching it slowly get word of mouth and became a kind of grassroots phenomenon.
Barker, a Drake High graduate, has been on Comedy Central's "Premium Blend" and has frequently appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." He co-wrote and co-starred in "The Marijuana-Logues" off-Broadway.
But he calls "Conchords" "my best credit so far."
"It feels good to be part of something that will be a classic," he says.
Since he has been on the show, Barker's profile and name recognition have been ratcheted up a notch or two.
He recently co-headlined a successful run of shows with Kristen Schall, who plays Mel, the Conchords' one-and-only fan, at a new comedy club, Comix, in New York's trendy Meat Packing District.
"We sold out the club two out of four shows, and the other ones were well-attended," he says. "And that's not easy in New York City where there's a million things to do."
On Tuesday night this week, Barker did a bit of stand-up at Mark Pitta's comedy night at 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. Robin Williams happened to be there, and all he could talk about was how much he likes "Conchords," imitating the New Zealanders' accents.
"He was raving about it, saying his kids love it," Barker says. "He couldn't stop talking about it. I said, 'Robin, let's change the subject!'"
After his show in Mill Valley on the 24th, Barker heads back Down Under for two months to perform in four comedy festivals back to back in Australia and New Zealand.
"I'll be all right as long as my liver survives," he says. "It's kind of like summer camp for alcoholics."
"Conchords" is shot on location in Brooklyn and on Manhattan's Lower East Side, the site of Dave's pawnshop.
Barker plans on being back in New York later this year to begin shooting episodes for the show's second season. After that, he might try his luck in Hollywood.
"I think I'm in a great position to move down there, assuming all goes well, but not until we film the next season," he says. "This is looking like my best year, but I might keep my futon at my aunt's house in Fairfax just in case."
IF YOU LAUGH
Who: Arj Barker with Kris Tinkle and Matt Morales
When: 8 and 10 p.m. Feb 15 and 16
Where: The Punch Line, 444 Battery St., San Francisco
Information: 397-4337, www.punchlinecomedyclub.com
IF YOU LAUGH MORE
Who: Arj Barker
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 24
Where: 142 Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley
Information: 383-9600, www.ticketweb.com