Comedian Arj Barker Defends Removing Breastfeeding Mother and Baby from Show

Comedian Arj Barker defends asking a breastfeeding mom to leave his comedy show, sparking debate on parental inclusion in public spaces.

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Geeta Pillai
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Comedian Arj Barker Defends Removing Breastfeeding Mother and Baby from Show

Comedian Arj Barker Defends Removing Breastfeeding Mother and Baby from Show

Comedian Arj Barker has defended his decision to ask a breastfeeding mother and her 7-month-old baby to leave his Melbourne Comedy Festival show at the Athenaeum Theatre on Saturday. Barker cited the event's age 15+ policy and the infant's disruption of the performance as reasons for his actions.

The mother, Trish Faranda, said she felt humiliated when Barker stopped his set and told her the baby couldn't stay due to the noises the child was making. "I was pretty humiliated and a bit shell-shocked. I didn't know if he was serious," Faranda said. She claimed her baby was not screaming but just "gurgled a bit" and "had a bit of a whinge."

Barker stated that the baby was disrupting the show for the other 700 people in attendance who had paid to see it. "The baby was talking, you know, baby talking, and then after a while the baby called out again and I made the decision, I told her the baby couldn't stay," he explained. Barker offered Faranda a refund as a gesture of goodwill.

The comedian emphasized that his decision had nothing to do with Faranda breastfeeding, as he could not see clearly due to the bright stage lights. He said the theatre staff should not have seated a baby in the audience in the first place given the show's age restriction.

Why this matters: The incident has sparked a debate about the inclusion of parents with young children in public spaces and the challenges faced by breastfeeding mothers. It also raises questions about the policies and handling of such situations by event organizers and performers.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival acknowledged the incident, stating that while babes in arms are generally allowed in their managed venues, they ask people to sit at the back and leave quickly if the baby becomes noisy to avoid disrupting the artist and other patrons. Barker said he felt bad about the situation but maintained that he had to make a difficult decision in the best interest of the majority of the audience.

Key Takeaways

  • Comedian Arj Barker asked a breastfeeding mother to leave his comedy show.
  • Barker cited the show's 15+ age policy and the baby's disruption as reasons.
  • The mother felt humiliated, claiming the baby was not disruptive.
  • Barker offered a refund and said the theater should not have seated the baby.
  • The incident sparked a debate about including parents with young children in public spaces.