Aussie Media Is Having A Meltdown Over Comedian Arj Barker Kicking A Baby Out Of His Melb Gig

The entire Australian media has lost its mind over a fiasco of national importance, in which a comedian performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival kicked a breastfeeding mother with a crying baby out of his show. Hope you aren’t sick of this story yet, because this is all you’re going to hear about for the next 48 hours.

American comedian Arj Barker made headlines across Australia for his controversial decision to have the mother removed from his (ages 15+ only) stand-up show “The Mind Field”, because her baby was making too much noise and making the performer feel like his jokes were “robbed of their tension”.

Well if it was tension he wanted, he’s got it now.

“On behalf of the other 700 people there who had paid to see the gig, I politely told her the baby couldn’t stay,” Arj told the ABC.

Questions have been raised about the type of etiquette in this unusual circumstance, with many performing artists like Arj highlighting that having a baby disrupt a show is off-putting for everyone in the room, not just the person on stage.

Barker admitted later to 2DAYFM that he felt bad about how the situation unfolded, and clarified that he “didn’t feel good about it”, but needed the crying baby to leave for the sake of the show.

He added that it wasn’t anything to do with the baby being breastfed, but that a crying baby was proving too much of a distraction.

This was only proved when the mother in question, Trish Faranda, appeared on both The Project and A Current Affair to talk about the event, only to have both shows ALSO ask her baby to be removed for being disruptive.

When Faranda and her seven-month-old child went on The Project for an interview, the segment had hardly begun before her baby began to distract the panel and interrupt the flow of the show.

“I just thought it would be really nice to do something that I hadn’t done in a while, and just get back to a pre-baby me,” Faranda said, between tears from her child, before apologising: ‘Sorry, she’s super cranky right now.”

“Maybe she can go to dad for a quick second?” host Sarah Harris suggested.

Faranda told the ABC that though she was fine with being asked to leave because of her baby making noise, it was how it went down that was the cause for concern

“He could have just, off mic, said ‘You know it’s really disrupting me, do you mind?’ And I would have happily packed up and gone,” Faranda told the ABC.

What makes the topic more complex is how the rest of the audience treated Faranda.

One audience member of the show, another comic by the name of Ellen Mahoney, recounted that the whole thing was a “masterclass in what not to do,” and called out the behaviour of Arj’s male audience, too.

“Men in the crowd loudly started telling the woman to get the fuck out. Loud, aggressive male voices,” Ellen wrote on Instagram.

“Arj did not intervene or tell the men to calm down, to not speak that way, [or] to treat these people with respect in any way.”

There are undoubtedly better ways to handle having a baby disrupt a performance, like how comedian Tom Ballard managed to use a baby making noise as part of his show.

Add in the aspect of a toxic male audience shouting at a woman who was breastfeeding a loud baby, and it’s the perfect storm that will take over the Australian media landscape for days on end.

Which many people online are pointing out, is great news for a comedian like Arj Barker, who hasn’t had this level of publicity in years.

On the other hand, some Aussies are mocking the fact that this story has become the sole focus of all of Australia’s news outlets, as well as the people involved in it who are capitalising on their time in the spotlight.

Turns out the only thing more annoying than a baby crying at a comedy show, is literally everyone talking about a baby that did a thing that babies are known for doing.

“People should be allowed to breastfeed outside of closed doors. But a lot of people are missing the point – it wasn’t just that she was breastfeeding at a show – go off queen!” comedian and performer Jenna Suffern shared with PEDESTRIAN.TV. (Suffern is an employee of Pedestrian Group, the publisher of this website.)

Jenna pointed out that the reason why the mother was kicked out would only be due to the unwanted noise — the same reason you’d kick any other heckler out. They also highlighted how stand-up shows are more accessible than other forms of entertainment, as there are plenty of other places that do not allow babies in the first place.

“However, the audience — being specifically male — turning on the patron and yelling at her to leave is gross, and adds to a mountain of issues to do with women’s rights, and safety,” said Jenna.

“I can imagine that would have been terrifying and also totally inappropriate. Arj should have told them to settle down. But at the end of the day, I don’t think comedy is an appropriate place for babies.”

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has operated for over three decades on the premise that everyone deserves to have fun at a comedy show.

Talented comics know how to balance interruptions from hecklers, babies, and tech issues, and use their skill to make sure they do this in a way that maintains the fun for everyone.

Sure, that isn’t going to happen all the time. However, most comedians are pretty damn reasonable, and if you check beforehand with them about if having a baby at a show is okay, they’ll let you know — sometimes even from on stage!

Though it may be up for debate if comedy shows are an alright space to bring a baby, they are absolutely not the space for adult babies.

And see you tomorrow when this story inevitably gets commented on by the Prime Minister, because we live in a deeply unserious country.