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Comedian asks breastfeeding mom to leave for 'disrupting' his show, sparking debate

He asked the mother to leave after she brought her 7-month-old to the show, sparking widespread discontent.

Comedian asks breastfeeding mom to leave for 'disrupting' his show, sparking debate
Cover Image Source: Arj Barker performs MC duties at Wild Aid 2023 on October 21, 2023, in Byron Bay, Australia. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

The debate over public breastfeeding has persisted for far too long. While some think that it is a natural phenomenon and women should be allowed to breastfeed in public, others believe that it is something that should be done in private. However, when comedian Arj Barker asked a mother, Trish Faranda, who was breastfeeding her seven-month-old baby to leave due to them ‘disrupting’ the show, people were outraged. The incident happened on April 20, Saturday at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock Project
Representative Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock Project

The woman initially thought that it was a joke and laughed at it. Recounting the incident to 7News, Faranda said that Barker stopped mid-performance to ask, "Is there a baby here?" After which he said, "I speak fluent baby and it said take me outside." She clarified that her child was “not yelling” and she was breastfeeding her to make sure that she remained calm meanwhile she was also packing up to leave the fourth row of the theatre, per CNN.

“I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s night, it was never my intention to go and disrupt people or create a scene,” the woman said. Faranda found Barker “intimidating” and said he was standing right in front of her. Additionally, an eyewitness reported to 9News that several attendees heckled the woman, urging her to leave.

The mother shared that she attended the show with a group of friends who were mothers or grandmothers and they all walked out with her in solidarity. When asked if she would be attending Barker’s shows again, she said a "no" and said that she had attended a lot of his shows before having kids. "You kind of lose yourself a bit when you have kids, and I was just trying to get back to something I enjoyed before I had kids.”

Barker justified his actions in an Instagram post. He shared that he heard the baby “talking” a few rows from the stage so at first made some jokes and moved on. However, when it happened again and there were 50 minutes left in the show, he asked the mother and baby to leave the show. “I felt bad doing so and stated this at the time as well as several times throughout the remainder of the show. As she was leaving, I offered her to get a refund, as a gesture of goodwill,” the statement read.


“I want to be very clear that this was a very tough call which I made on behalf of the other 700 or so audience members who deserved the show they had paid for, uninterrupted,” Barker wrote. He also mentioned that the ticket purchase site stated that the show was “strictly for audiences 15+” and the theatre should have flagged this before seating her. Barker went on to clarify that her breastfeeding had nothing to do with his decision to ask her to leave. “I couldn’t see well enough if she was or not (due to the bright light on his face) and nor do I care,” he said in the statement.

Image Source: Instagram | @arjbarker
Image Source: Instagram | @arjbarker

People in the comments shared their disappointment on his post. @chrismahoney expressed, “Fair call Arj. I was at the show and I understand your point of view. What disturbed me was the calling out and heckling of the mother by other (male) members of the audience who were being verbally abusive and intimidating. It felt wrong that you didn’t address that. By not doing so it felt like you were condoning it. It made me feel quite uncomfortable.” Some even supported his decision to ask the mother to leave. @mellyyj commented, “I 100% support and respect this decision! People - don't take your babies to shows, you're just ruining everyone else's experience and night out to enjoy a comedy show!”

However, most were dejected to hear this and highlighted that people do take their young kids out in Australia. @llexxa wrote, “Forever lost a fan in me. That’s not on and the apology/not apology is the real joke here. Let’s not forget this is Australia where it’s okay and normal to take your kids and babies to pubs. I’ve taken my babies to comedy shows in the opera house many times and never been judged or asked to leave.” @berays_art said, “As a fellow comedian who performs on stage, I think we can just carry on even if a child is making noise. We have microphones that are louder than the babies. It's really hard for mothers to go out and about so let's try and support them!” @hell_in_3d wrote, “I’m a new parent and there’s no way in high hell I’d even think of taking my baby to a show, but then again, it is Melbourne.”

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A post shared by Arj Barker (@arjbarker)


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