Arj Barker scores big laughs at BMU show
By: Elizabeth Ghiorso
Issue date: 2/11/09 Section: Entertainment
At some point in the last couple of weeks, you probably wondered how to pronounce Arj Barker's name. On Monday of last week, it was difficult to find someone hanging out on campus who really knew who Arj Barker was. Surprisingly, aside from a handful of fervent "Flight of the Conchords" fans, people who showed up for the sold-out show last Thursday night didn't know much about Barker either.
Robert Fulton, a Chico State senior, laughed as he admitted to completely forgetting Barker's name when he went to buy his ticket. "I really like 'Flight of the Conchords,'" Fulton said. "I just don't know much about Arj."
Fulton was not alone. Conversations before the show buzzed with uncertainty, and it became obvious that most of the people there had no idea what to expect. Some knew Barker only as "that guy on 'Flight of the Conchords,'" and many more had absolutely no idea who he was at all.
One woman in line shook her head as her boyfriend reenacted one of Barker's popular "Mohumbhai and Son" pawnshop commercials from "Flight of the Conchords."
"I still have no idea who we're seeing," she said. "How do you say his name again?"
Less than an hour later Barker was getting huge laughs and quickly transformed doubters into diehard fans. By the second joke, he had seemingly won over everyone in the room. He warmed up the crowd with a hearty helping of Chico jokes, which poked fun at Chico's lack of entertaining activities, and pointed out that Chico residents are limited to binge drinking and working on "nut farms."
He joked about global warming, ranted about the woes of health insurance, and inspired the crowd with tales of his wonderful new organization "Doctors Without Degrees," a humanitarian group in which anyone, regardless of their level of formal education, can go overseas and perform open-heart surgery on those in need. He bestowed upon the crowd some "wisdom of maturity" regarding the emotional and physical value of foreplay, and brought the house down with his final bit about the real life applications for those fast-talking announcer voices at the end of radio advertisements.
After Barker's last joke, the crowd rose for a standing ovation. People jumped to their feet hooting and whistling as Barker stood on stage, seemingly amazed at the response.
"Oh man, that was awesome," said Chico State senior Steven Mehrer as he applauded.
Before the show, Mehrer had labeled himself a "soft-core Arj fan," but by the end he seemed more excited than anyone else in his row. He laughed as he recounted Barker's jokes about "Doctors Without Degrees."
"That part was my favorite," he said. "The show was hilarious."
The crowd seemed to agree with Mehrer.
As droves of young people poured out onto the sidewalk, it became clear that no one would be forgetting the name "Arj Barker" any time soon.
"The show was terrific," said Chico State senior Amanda Atkinson. "I had a great time."