Comedian defends himself after kicking breastfeeding mum and her baby out of his show

Comedian defends himself after kicking breastfeeding mum and her baby out of his show

Arj Barker was widely condemned for his treatment of the mother and child

(Arj Barker/Facebook)

A performer who has been dubbed “Australia’s favourite American comedian" has attempted to defend himself after he ejected a breastfeeding mother and her baby from his show.

Arj Barker was sharply criticised when it emerged that he had kicked the mum and her seven-month-old from a theatre in Melbourne during a performance on Saturday night.

Speaking about the incident following the clash, the mother told local news network 3AWthat her child had “gurgled a little bit,” describing it as “the equivalent to someone coughing”.

"People weren’t turning their heads,” the woman, named Trish Faranda, insisted. “She wasn’t screaming — she was just being a baby.”

Faranda said that Barker then stopped and cracked a few jokes about the situation.

He then reportedly boasted that he “speaks baby” and that the infant had told him: “Take me outside.”

“At that point, I was like I don’t think he was joking about that,” Faranda recalled.

Then, when the baby made another “little noise”, Barker allegedly approached her again.

“I was actually breastfeeding when he came and stood in front of me and he was basically telling me to leave,” she said.

“People were laughing and I don’t think he was joking. So I said to him, do you actually want me to leave? And he said, ‘Yes I do’.”

Faranda said she felt intimidated by his behaviour but felt “blessed” when around a dozen people also left the show in solidarity.

The mother and baby were forced to leave the 863-seater auditorium in Melbourne's Aethenum Theatre(Aetheneum Theatre)

Barker has since offered his own take on the fallout, stressing that he was merely trying to follow the rules.

He pointed out that his show, which took place at the Athenaeum Theatre as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, was clearly advertised as "strictly age 15+.”

And he argued that the seven-month-old was disrupting the performance, ABC News reports.

"On behalf of the other 700 people there who had paid to see the gig, I politely told her the baby couldn't stay," he said.

"She thought I was kidding which made the exchange a bit awkward."

Supporters agreed that Faranda had been selfish in her decision to bring her daughter along, with one Twitter/X user commenting: “Ridiculous to take a small child to, show clearly stated age 15+. Very inconsiderate to every other person in the venue.”

Another added: “I’m a parent and I think he was right to ask her to leave after she failed to consider the other paying audience members. Most comedy shows are not much more than an hour. Organize a babysitter or don’t go.”

However, critics stressed that being a new mum is hard, and Faranda was entitled to let her hair down.

Australian politician Ellen Sandell also tweeted: “I am livid at hearing this.

“It’s hard enough for new mums to participate in society with all the barriers put in front of them – to be humiliated like this, for just trying to enjoy the comedy festival, is awful.”

Critics called for the comedian to apologise to the mother(Arj Barker/Facebook)

Faranda also noted that she had previously brought her baby to a Dave Hughes comedy set and he had “moved on like a true professional”.

“You kind of lose yourself a little bit when you have kids. I was trying to get back to enjoying something that I enjoyed before kids," she said.

In a statement, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival said it was aware of the incident on Saturday night, but was not responsible for the event itself.

"Arj is independently produced and at a venue not managed by the festival, however, any interaction between performers and their audiences requires sensitivity and respect," a festival spokesperson said.

"In our festival managed venues, babes in arms are generally allowed but we do ask people to sit up the back with their child so they can quickly and easily leave if the baby gets noisy, so as not to disturb the artist and other patrons."

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