Cult comedian and TV star Arj Barker has some advice for the Whistler party animal out there: “You don’t go backcountry snowboarding by yourself, so you don’t go backcountry drinking alone either.”
Barker, who admits he “likes to party,” learned this lesson the hard way last year when he was in town for the popular Snowed In Comedy Tour, which returns to Whistler on Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 14 and 15) with four of the biggest names in comedy — Pete Johansson, Craig Campbell and Dan Quinn — performing under one roof.
After a round of shots from some fans after his set last year, things got a little bit messy, recalled Barker.
“I ended up at some outdoor rave without any of my friends; went out with complete strangers, who were plenty nice, don’t get me wrong. I was at somebody’s house for a minute that I have vague memories of, I was in a storage container in the woods, there was just me and a DJ dancing at one point, there was a fire and I fell down on a frozen creek,” he said.
“As much as a I plan to have a good time, I’m not going to get that wasted this year.”
Barker should be familiar to fans of the HBO cult series Flight of the Conchords, for his recurring appearances as Dave, a laidback pawnshop employee with unorthodox views on the opposite sex.
Barker still gets recognized on the streets for the role and said he appreciates the support from fans on the musical comedy show that ended its run in 2009.
“I actually know a comedian who got super offended when somebody called him by his character name, a really famous guy, and he yelled at them. I would never do that because I don’t really care; if you have a positive association with me from that show, well that’s fine because it’s a good show and I’m thankful to be a part of it,” he said.
“I’m happy that someone likes my work, even if somebody said ‘Hey, you mowed my lawn in 8th Grade, it’s the lawn mower!’ I wouldn’t get mad at that either, I’d be like ‘cool.’”
Barker is more than just a skilled landscaper, however, with a comedy career dating back to 1990, when he started doing stand-up as a 16-year-old in San Francisco. He immediately took a shine to comedy, calling it “the funnest thing I’ve ever done.” Well, that and his other decades-long love affair: snowboarding.
“All these years later and I’m doing both of ‘em. I just follow where the fun is,” said Barker of the Snowed In tour, which brings the comics and snowboarding enthusiasts to perform in ski meccas around the country each year.
“Three out of four of us are pretty good at snowboarding too, we’re competent, black-diamond level,” he said. “It’s so much snowboarding in a month that I’m ready to hang up the board by February 1st.”
If you weren’t convinced Barker was tailor-made for a Whistler crowd, consider that he’s become an unofficial Aussie recently, spending most of his year Down Under, where he’s developed a solid fanbase.
“One day, I realized that I had built up a following there through a lot of TV spots that sort of added up, and brought about an awareness of my comedy in the public,” he said. “I have some great fans in the States and in Canada, but in Australia I have by far the highest concentration of fans. My motto is: go where the love is, and that’s where I go.”
Join the Aussie contingent for this year’s Snowed In Comedy Tour, with two shows at the GLC on Jan. 14 and 15. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. both nights and tickets are $21.25, available at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 888-222-6608.
Oh, and don’t offer Barker any shots this year, he’s begging you.