Arj Barker, of Flight Of The Conchords fame, on becoming an honorary Aussie, playing Dave and his return to Edinburgh
You’re returning to Edinburgh for the first time in 10 years. What have you got planned?
The show I’m doing is primarily the show I did in Melbourne this year. There’s so much material to choose from. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a best-of show, maybe the best-of from the last couple of years.
You play wannabe ladies’ man Dave in Flight Of The Conchords. Do you know any ‘Daves’ in real life?
Well, I think the character was written as an exaggerated, cartoonish version of how Bret [McKenzie] and Jemaine [Clements] perceived me the first few times we hung out.
Oh dear, that’s a worry.
When I first met them in New Zealand, about seven or so years ago, I was always on the road and I wanted to party and meet girls. I think maybe I thought [laughs] I was cooler than I was. I probably said something like: “You guys must score lots of chicks” but they’re really not like that. They thought I was kind of a goofball. But also, everyone on that show is playing a larger than life, dumbed down version of themselves.
What was your favourite Dave-ism?
The thing that made me laugh the hardest when I first read the script was when they’re talking about how girls like sensitive things like Watership Down. It’s the line where Dave says: “I saw a puppy being born once – just to see that little head coming out of that dog’s pussy was so beautiful.” They made him [Dave] dumb enough so that anything offensive he said, you couldn’t really get mad at him.
What happened to the macrame owl in Dave’s shop? Did you souvenir it?
No, but do you remember one episode where Mel put out a band newsletter? I got a copy of that and got the guys to sign it, so I’ll probably donate it to a charity auction at some point.
You were already well-known in Oz and NZ as a stand-up comic before FOTC, but did the show raise your profile?
It definitely gave me another boost. I was already playing five-six hundred seat theatres and it maybe helped push me up into the four-digit range. And people who don’t know me from stand-up might know me from Conchords. I even toyed with calling my Edinburgh show “OMG: It’s Dave from Flight of the Conchords!”
You’re an honorary Aussie now, though in your shows you’ve said you’d “rather drink a bucket of sea water while beating yourself over the head with a piece of wood, than try surfing again”.
Yeah, that really struck a chord with Australians, one they remember years and years later. But I really love Australia – there’s enough space for people not to step on each others’ toes.
What other quintessentially Aussie experiences have you not enjoyed?
I’ve been to several sporting events. I’ve been to the cricket, which was fun, but I was so drunk I think I would have had fun watching someone vacuum a room.
» Assembly @ George St, Edinburgh
Aug 7-29, 9.20pm
Interview: Alison Grinter