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Arj Barker fires back after kicking mum with baby out of Melbourne Comedy Festival show at Athenaeum Theatre

David Johns
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Comedian Arj Barker has come under fire over kicking out a woman with a baby at a Melbourne show.
Comedian Arj Barker has come under fire over kicking out a woman with a baby at a Melbourne show. Credit: James Penlidis Photography/The Nightly

The mum who was kicked out of a Melbourne comedy show by Arj Barker because she had her baby with her has described how she felt “humiliated and intimidated”.

The US stand-up comic, who visits Australia frequently, was in the middle of his Melbourne Comedy Festival show on Saturday night when he stopped it and asked the woman to “take the baby outside”.

The mum called in to 3AW radio in Melbourne on Monday saying her name was Trish, and claimed she felt “humiliated” by the experience at the Athenaeum Theatre.

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“(It made me feel) pretty humiliated actually, because he was quite intimidating,” she said.

“He was standing right in front of me.”

She said she had planned to sit in a seat as close to the door as possible in case her baby got “rowdy”.

“We were sitting there and she gurgled a bit — it was probably the equivalent of somebody coughing.

“People weren’t turning their heads to look at us, she wasn’t screaming, she was just being a baby.

“She gurgled a little bit, had a bit of a whinge, nothing loud.

“I was actually breastfeeding while he came and stood in front of me and then he told me to leave.

“I didn’t want to impact other people, people were out to have a good night and that’s fine.”

She claims roughly 12 audience members stood up in solidarity and left the theatre with her.

She said she had previously been to several of Barker’s shows before she became a mum but she wouldn’t go again.

“You kind of lose yourself a little bit when you have kids and I was just trying to get back to enjoying something I enjoyed before I had kids.

She also said she took the baby to David Hughes’ show and he made a joke about it gurgling before moving on.

Earlier, another radio listener called in to say, it led to an uncomfortable moment inside the theatre.

“The crowd wasn’t sure whether he was serious — but he was dead serious. It was unbelievably awkward,” he said.

“The baby was just being a baby, it wasn’t doing anything above and beyond.”

In a statement, Barker doubled down on his decision to kick the baby out.

“The show is strictly age 15 plus as clearly stated on the ticket site. She had an infant with her. The baby was disrupting my performance,” he said.

“On behalf of the other 700 people who paid to see the gig, I politely told her the baby couldn’t stay. She thought I was kidding, which made the exchange a bit awkward.

What a way to cancel yourself.

“I felt bad about the whole situation and stated this on the night more than once. I offered her a refund. Theatre staff should not have seated a baby in my audience in the first place.”

A woman who claims to be a relative of the woman who was kicked out slammed the comedian in a series of posts on X.

“(Arj Barker) demanded my 7-month-old cousin — who relies on her mum for milk (life), my mother, and my aunty’s friend (also a mum) to leave his show, claiming he/she was ‘ruining his train of thought’,” she posted.

“A woman has purchased a ticket, for a night out with her sister and friend, to laugh and enjoy herself and you badger her and encourage her to leave and get a refund.

“With all of the hatred and violence women are faced with, among the countless atrocities happening within the world today, I ask you to simply take a long, hard look at yourself.”

The move has sparked fierce debate online, with social media users split in their support for or opposition to the comedian.

“What a way to cancel yourself.....silly boy,” said one woman on Barker’s Facebook page.

“I’m paying to see Arj, not listen to someone’s baby. If it was an appropriate place for a baby he would be playing pre-schools,” said another.

Barker is performing a series of shows over the coming weeks in Victoria and Queensland, before returning to Sydney in August.

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