Arj Barker slammed for kicking breastfeeding mother and baby out of show: 'Disgusting behaviour'

The comedian asked a breastfeeding mother to leave his show in Melbourne and now the internet is coming for him.

Comedian Arj Barker has found himself on the receiving end of widespread backlash after asking a breastfeeding mother and her baby to leave one of his shows at Melbourne's Athenaeum Theatre on Saturday night. According to the baby's cousin, the stand-up said the pair were 'ruining his train of thought' however, Arj told Yahoo Lifestyle that the issue was purely an audio one and had nothing to do with breastfeeding.

Taking to X (formerly Twitter), the cousin wrote, "Thanks to the countless women, and one grandfather, who left in protest. Atrocious. You’re in @cityofmelbourne at an International Comedy Festival. Have an ounce of respect."

Comedian Arj Barker has found himself at the centre of a controversy after asking a mum and baby to leave his show. Credit: Instagram/arjbarker
Comedian Arj Barker has found himself at the centre of a controversy after asking a mum and baby to leave his show. Credit: Instagram/arjbarker

She continued, “A woman has purchased a ticket, for a night out with her sister and friend, to laugh and enjoy herself and you badger her and encourage her to leave and get a refund,” the attendee wrote online.


“With all of the hatred and violence women are faced with, among the countless atrocities happening within the world today, I ask you to simply take a long, hard look at yourself," she finished her post.

While the OP received some support, and requests to speak to the media, others suggested that the woman was in the wrong for bringing such a young child to the show in the first place.

'Ruining the show'

"GOOD - It was also ruining the show for everyone else who paid to enjoy the show," one person replied.

"Of all the places I’d take my 7-month-old child, fine dining, the opera and a comedy show for adults are right down the bottom of the list," another retorted.

"Takes a child to a show that says strictly 15+ but he is the problem lol," another said.

Another person tweeted, "Thankfully a woman on ABC radio just now called in to say that the baby was disruptful, the mother was disrespectful for bringing a toddler to an event that was advertised as 15+. Do you think it would also be ok to take a baby to the opera, a stage show, etc?"

'Really awkward'

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, a different attendee of Arj's Saturday show said that the “baby was making a bit of noise, as babies do” prompting the comedian to make a few jokes about it. The attendee, named David then told SMH that “as people were laughing, the baby started making baby noises and maybe a whinge I suppose" which is when Arj asked the woman to take the baby outside.

David described the incident as "really awkward.”

Arj wasn't aware of breastfeeding

Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, Arj explained that he didn't even know the mother was breastfeeding and had asked her to leave purely because of the audio factor.

"I did not have any inkling about breastfeeding until this morning," the comedian said. "I cannot see the audience well enough to discern features like that. They are in the dark and I have bright lights in my face. This was all to do with an audio disruption of my show, nothing more."

He continued, "For the record, I am happy for anyone to breastfeed a baby anywhere they like, as I feel it’s perfectly natural and therefore a nonissue to me."

Arj Barker's Instagram has been flooded with comments from people who are angry about Saturday's incident. Credit: Getty Images
Arj Barker's Instagram has been flooded with comments from people who are angry about Saturday's incident. Credit: Getty Images

Arj's "disgusting behaviour" called out online

However, on Arj's Instagram account, people were firmly on the side of the mother, taking to the comments to give the comedian a piece of their mind.

"Time to retire," wrote one aggrieved fan. "Fame has gone to your head. No common decency. Asking a mother and baby to leave your show! I go to your show every year. Saw the last one it wasn’t that great anyway. People were walking out rating it a 5 out of 10. Definitely won’t be back!"

"Hope you're enjoying the backlash of your disgusting behaviour," another wrote.


Another simply wrote, "Cancelled."

Said another, "Yuck. Time to go mate, you’ve lost me. Do better."

"You kicked a breastfeeding mother and her new born out of your show?!?!," raged another person. "Your train of thought must have been pretty weak that it could be disrupted by a mother attending to her child. Absolutely disgusting atrocious behaviour!"

Mum says she felt humiliated

Speaking to Melbourne’s 3AW radio, the mother in question - whose name is Trish - explained that she felt humiliated by the incident and Arj's request.

“He came and stood in front of me and he was telling me to leave,” she said.

“People were laughing and I thought ‘I don’t think he’s joking, but everyone else seems to think he’s joking’, so I said to him, ‘do you really, do you actually want me to leave? … and he said yes.”

Arj told Yahoo Lifestyle that he "felt really bad about having to ask her to leave" but said, "I made the decision on behalf of the 700 or so other punters there who deserved to watch my show, uninterrupted."

In a statement, Arj said he
In a statement, Arj said he "felt bad about the whole situation." Credit: Getty Images

Arj Barker releases a statement about the incident

In a statement released on Monday morning, Barker addressed the incident on ABC Radio saying, “The show is strictly age 15 plus as clearly stated on the ticket site. She had an infant with her. The baby was disrupting my performance."

He continued, "On behalf of the other 700 people who paid to see the gig, I politely told her the baby couldn’t stay. She thought I was kidding, which made the exchange a bit awkward.

“I felt bad about the whole situation and stated this on the night more than once. I offered her a refund. Theatre staff should not have seated a baby in my audience in the first place.”

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