Fans of New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo will likely know Arj Barker best for his role as Devjeet "Dave" Mohumbhai on HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords,” but keen-eyed Comedy Central viewers may have caught his recent stand-up special, which is now in stores as part of the CD/DVD package for his new album, LYAO. Like, little tiny worn-out cots, three guys sleeping in a room the size of a closet, eating canned beans for dinner. When I graduated from college, I went over to the UK with a rail pass and traveled all over, and that was exactly what I experienced, too.
Bullz-Eye caught up with Barker to talk about this new release, but we also asked him about his work on the fabled “Marijuana-Logues,” which he co-wrote with Doug Benson and Tony Camin, and his feelings on the end of the premium-cable gig which kept him occupied for two hilarious seasons. Just because, y’know, you’re out there, you’re trying to save money ‘cause you’re not making a ton. We were sitting in the basement of one of the hostels, no one really spoke each other’s language, but one of the guys went and got beer for everybody. () Yeah, I definitely don’t regret it, but it was a little bit hard going there for a couple of minutes.
I know you were going to be in the original pilot for “Nearly Nirvana,” a sitcom which ended up not getting picked up, anyway. It was actually equally myself, Doug Benson, and a comic called Tony Camin. To be honest, I knew Doug a little bit just from seeing him around for several years, but I wouldn’t say I knew him very well until we began working together on “The Marijuana-Logues.” Had I known him well, I do not think I would’ve chosen to work with him. But I think the point is that working and sharing a show with people, including Tony and all of us, it’s difficult at times.
BE: Sorry, I should clarify that I did actually that. It’s a lot different from our usual stand-up, because in that, we just do what we want and no one tells us what to do. BE: Well, since you brought it up earlier, I’ll close with the obligatory “Flight of the Conchords” question.
Are you somebody who regularly does your research so you can tailor at least a little bit of your act to local stuff? BE: You talk a lot about life on the road during the special, discussing drinking Guinness and other tortures in the life of a traveling comedian.It piques the crowd’s interest a little bit extra, I think, ‘cause people love it when they’re part of the joke." AB: Well, I think the reason why I can get away with it…so far, I haven’t gotten yelled at or anything, and I’ve definitely done the gay-marriage thing in front of gay people, and they were laughing.Actually, there was one time when one guy wasn’t laughing. I don’t know about up there, but here in Hampton Roads, we got more snow than we’ve gotten in 20 years.There were times when that was a little depressing, waking up at 5 AM ‘cause of the jetlag, and you wake up with a sore back, and there’s a snoring guy about two feet away with you, and you can smell people’s feet. It just made me want to get to the next level really quick… On the plus side, I did meet lots of interesting and lovely people staying at those places, and there was a social aspect at the hostels that you don’t get at hotels. Overall, though, it’s been a real pleasure being a comedian.I do know more than one comedian who routinely search themselves on Google and have programs that actually find out what people are saying about them, but that’s the absolute last thing I want to do.I’ve been skirting this question for a long time, though, so I guess it’s time to finally bite the bullet.: "I don’t sit there and spend hours looking stuff up, but I try to be aware of the area that I’m in.I don’t do it as a rule, because I don’t actually try to have any rules, because then you become formulaic, but it is nice sometimes to open up with something local.The guys had kind of…I mean, I hadn’t been told anything specific, but I had a feeling. I mean, I don’t think it’s the end of Flight of the Conchords. We had a good time doing that show, I was glad to have been part of it, and I’m excited to see what comes up next. AB: I really like the one about the bus driver (“Bus Drivers Song”), because I think it’s really sweet. I think at the very least they’ll still occasionally do a live show, but I don’t know what the future will hold. Maybe not so much funny as it is really quite sweet. It’s just really clever and…well, the only word I can really come up with for it ) Well, I hope that’s okay, ‘cause I’m supposed to go on to my next call now…