Arj Barker is a generous guy.
During an interview to preview the upcoming Snowed In Comedy Tour over the phone from his home in Melbourne, Australia, the comedian comes up with a solid Canada pun then promptly volunteers it for the headline of this story.
"These guys (on the tour) are just killer comedians," he says. "So, this sounds corny and cliché, but you have to bring your A game—I don't mean A like Canadian eh."
He pauses: "Arj Barker is prepared to bring his 'eh' game—you can use that."
Barker is no stranger to the tour—which first started in 2009 with a group of comedians who wanted to hit up ski resort towns to tell jokes at night and snowboard during the day. He attempts to join the rotating crew every few years for a leg of the tour.
"It's been a few years now since I was on it," he adds. "It was 2017 when I popped out there last."
What keeps him coming back—despite the distance from his adopted country—is "mainly the love of the mountains and snowboarding but also to see those guys and have fun with those guys—but mainly the snowboarding, if I'm honest," he says.
While he's originally from the U.S. (though perhaps best known for his work on the TV show Flight of the Conchords) living down under also means a long journey to Canada for the tour.
"Dan (Quinn) is kind enough to let me come out for a couple of weeks. I have a lot of work out here and it's hard to be everywhere coming from a long way. I provide my own plane ticket to North America, so by the time you do that—I don't do this tour to make money," he says.
During three nights in Whistler, he'll be performing alongside Quinn, Paul Myrehaug and Pete Zedlacher.
"One thing I want to say is these are top-notch comedians on the tour," he says. "They make me work much harder than I would coming out there to do my own show."
For part of the tour—though not in Whistler—that high-end talent will include female comedians for the first time. Last year, Debra DiGiovanni filled in last-minute for a comedian who had to drop out for personal reasons, but this year marks the first time women comics will be on the bill from the start. DiGiovanni will join them from Calgary to Vernon while Vancouver comedian Erica Sigurdson will be part of the lineup from Vernon to Saskatoon.
"The tour is super popular and the boys are wonderful," DiGiovanni says. "But they got a lot of feedback that it's nice to have a woman on the show ... Dan (Quinn) has been such a fan and supporter of mine throughout my career. I think when they needed someone I was the first choice."
That said, adding a female comic to the mix at a time when there's a push for the entertainment industry to diversify isn't a coincidence either, she says. "It was a little bit of both. They could've gotten any guy to fill it ... Skiing, snowboarding, I don't do any of those things. They could've asked a bunch of guys who were snowboarders already," she says.
For his part, Barker says it's "high time."
"It's 2019, let's represent—I don't want to say both genders because there's (more than one)—but a couple of the biggies," he says. "There's great female comedians as well."
The Snowed In Comedy Tour stops in Whistler at the GLC from Jan. 14 to Jan. 16. Tickets are $30 at www.snowedincomedytour.com.