Welcome to Arj Barker’s Go Time, the so-so comedy show that makes you feel like you’re watching a used-car salesman put sawdust in a gearbox. The aim, of course, is to successfully keep the whole shebang going until the cash is safely in the till.
Rehash some of the old, semi-reliable material, chuck in some new stuff, make sure the build-ups are long-winded enough to fill in some time and bam! You’ve got yourself an hour-long touring vehicle, good for the next few months.
It’s not all that bad. But it’s getting there; the structure of the show is virtually non-existent, the jokes take forever in the build-up, and for all that, the payoff isn’t actually all that good. Usually, in a decent long-form joke, even the build-up has some laughs to get you rolling before the final line knocks you flat. But the second half of the show just seems to comprise Barker’s ‘this is just the way I feel’ proselytising on his deliverance from the sad-sack lifestyle of a 9-5 working week.
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It’s enough to make you blank out midway through one of Barker’s long runs and come back before he’s delivered the punch line. And you still won’t laugh. The show is a cavalcade of blandness, with one random joke seeping into the next.
Masters of comedy spend hours on their routines, and it shows in their structure, tone, delivery and execution. Not so here. Arj Barker is the go-to comedian for people who don’t know what comedy show they want to see.
Go Time is a good reason why it’s worth spending a little more time doing your comedy research and giving a few different shows a shot. You might get one or two misses, but at least you’ll get a proper hit rather than this shambling, lacklustre show.
Arj Barker in Go Time is on at the Melbourne Town Hall, 7:30pm Tues-Sat and at various times on Sundays.