[ATTENDED: June 12, 2016] Arj Barker
Much like with my trip to the Mann for Wilco, it took a lot longer to get there than I anticipated–I think we’ll have it all figured out for our next show there later this week. We wound up arriving a few minutes before 8 and had enough time to get a snack before the show started. Barker didn’t start exactly at 8 either (how come Richard Thompson was so punctual?)
As we were chowing down, we noticed that later this summer the Mann Center is putting on a symphonic Pokemon event and we knew we had to get tickets for the kids for that. So I ran out to the box office and spared myself the $13/ticket Ticketmaster surcharge at the expense of missing the beginning of Arj’s set.
We walked in just as he was going on about his girlfriend’s insistence on their new gluten-free diet (I’d guess we missed about ten or fifteen minutes).
The gluten bit was hilarious, especially when he joked that the only thing he really felt he was missing on his new diet was happiness. And how bread is really the missing link between cavemen and modern man. The joke was bolstered by a reference to a cartoon slice of bread which we are all imagining him giving up. But he explained that all the best foods are made of bread (cookies are just sweet breads with dense crust, past a is bread doing its own thing), and that was pretty great.
He did an extended bit about writing letters and how slow the mail is. Nothing was new in the premise but he had some very funny twists on it.
Perhaps my favorite bit was his Game of Thrones joke. He asked if everyone was ready to talk about the latest episodes. A guy in the front row covered his ears and then Barker went off on a two-minute rant about spoilers and statutes of limitations and he looked at the man and told him that he was the spoiler. It was really funny. But none of that was as funny as the punchline(s) to that whole routine. There were about three and each was funnier than the next.
He had a funny story about reading an article about early onset Alzheimer’s–which seemed to reference a joke that we must have missed at the beginning of the show.
It linked to the final bit which was about lying about your age. If you say you are younger, your face will give you away. So he lies and says he is older, thus, he looks great for his age. The whole end of the bit gave entirely new meaning to the idea of getting shitfaced.
There was a kind of running joke about the spotlight operator. Every time Arj moved, the spotlight guy was slow to catch up, leaving Arj in the dark a few times. Arj yelled at him and said you know that a spotlight moves at the speed of light, right? His improvs about this malfunction were very funny.
All in all, Barker’s set was fantastic. I haven’t laughed quite so hard in a long time. And although I am happy I got the tickets for the upcoming show, I’m a little bummed that we missed the beginning of his set.