Sunday, May 26, 2024

Breastfeeding Mom Kicked Out of Arj Barker Comedy Show in Melbourne Sparks Outrage

HomeU.S.Breastfeeding Mom Kicked Out of Arj Barker Comedy Show in Melbourne Sparks...

An incident at a comedy show in Melbourne, Australia has sparked heated debate after comedian Arj Barker asked a breastfeeding mother to leave the performance because her infant was making noise. The American comedian, known as “Australia’s favorite American comic,” was headlining a show at the Athenaeum Theatre on Saturday night as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

The Incident

According to Trish Faranda, the mother who was kicked out, her 7-month-old baby made some typical gurgling sounds during Barker’s act. She says Barker initially acknowledged the baby’s noises and made a few comments about the situation.

However, when the infant made another “little noise” again shortly after, Barker approached Faranda and directly asked her to leave the show. “People were laughing and I don’t think he was joking. So I said to him, ‘Do you actually want me to leave?’ And Barker said, ‘Yes I do,'” Faranda told radio station 3AW.

Feeling humiliated and unwanted, Faranda decided to exit the comedy show. Around a dozen other attendees walked out in solidarity with the breastfeeding mom after witnessing the tense exchange.

Mother Claims Intimidation

In an interview with The Age, Faranda stated that Barker was “intimidating” during the incident and she didn’t feel comfortable staying for the rest of his performance. A family member of Faranda’s also took to social media, alleging that Barker claimed the couple was “ruining his train of thought.”

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The mother noted that she had not encountered any issues when previously bringing her infant to see another popular Australian comedian, Dave Hughes. This raised questions about whether comedy shows have consistent policies regarding babies and young children in attendance.

Comedian’s Defense

For his part, Arj Barker defended his actions by stating the baby was interfering with his comedy performance. He also pointed out that his show was advertised as being “strictly age 15+” so a 7-month-old baby should not have been admitted in the first place.

“Theatre staff should not have seated a baby in my audience,” Barker said. The comedian claimed he politely asked the mother to leave with her child, and says he felt bad about the situation. Barker added that he offered Faranda a refund as she was leaving the show.

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Comedy Festival Response

In a statement released after the incident, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival stressed that Arj Barker’s show was independently produced and took place at a venue not directly supervised by the festival itself.

“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,” the statement read.

The festival organizers emphasized that any interaction between performers and audience members should be “respectful and sensitive” regardless of the circumstances.

Divided Public Opinion

The incident quickly sparked a heated debate on social media, with passionate arguments on both sides of the issue. Australian politician Ellen Sandell blasted Barker’s actions as “awful” and stated that women have a right to breastfeed while participating in society.

“Arj Barker, you need to take a good look at yourself and apologize to this mum,” Sandell tweeted, while encouraging the comedian to educate himself on the importance of public breastfeeding.

However, many online commenters took Barker’s side, arguing that comedy shows are no place for infants who could disturb the performance and other patrons. “Why would you take a baby to a comedy show?” one person asked.

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Others argued that while breastfeeding in public is acceptable, venues like comedy clubs should be off-limits for young babies out of consideration for performers and the rest of the audience.

The polarized reactions highlighted the lack of a clear consensus around babies at comedy shows and other adult-oriented live performances. As the debate rages on, comedy clubs may face increased pressure to enact consistent, family-friendly policies going forward.

The incident put a spotlight on the challenges breastfeeding mothers can face navigating social settings and events. While public breastfeeding is legal in most places, the episode with Arj Barker showed the conflicts that can arise regarding what is deemed an appropriate environment for infants.

As comedians and live venues weigh the pros and cons, the Melbourne incident served as a wake-up call about establishing clear guidelines — and preventing situations where breastfeeding moms feel shamed, humiliated or unwelcome.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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