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Comedian Sparks Debate After Kicking Breastfeeding Mom And Baby Out Of Comedy Show

Comedian Arj Barker spoke out in defense of his actions after getting hit with backlash for kicking a woman and her infant out of his show in Melbourne for interrupting his performance.

Arj Barker; Trish Faranda and baby
The Project/YouTube

American comedian Arj Barker sparked a worldwide debate after he ejected a breastfeeding woman and her baby from his show at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne on Saturday night.

Barker was performing as part of Melbourne's international comedy festival when the incident took place, and now both parties have spoken out about what transpired.

Speaking with 3AW, the mother, Trish Faranda, said she was absolutely "humiliated" when she was asked to leave the show.

She claimed the baby wasn't distracting others around her, noting the child's gurgles were “the equivalent to someone coughing."

"People weren’t turning their heads."
“She wasn’t screaming — she was just being a baby.”

According to the New York Post, Barker then claimed he "speaks baby" and the baby told him, “Take me outside.”

Faranda added:

"At that point, I was like I don’t think he was joking about that."

After the baby made another sound, Barker approached Faranda again.

“I was actually breastfeeding when he came and stood in front of me and he was basically telling me to leave."
“People were laughing and I don’t think he was joking. So I said to him, do you actually want me to leave? And he said, ‘Yes I do.'”

Faranda added that Barker "was intimidating and he was standing right in front of me.” When she left, Faranda stated that “10 or 12 people” left with her.

Barker himself took to Instagram to defend his actions and tell his side of the story.

On Monday, he wrote:

“The Atheneum [sic] was pretty full and everyone seemed in a great mood."
“Then I heard a baby — not crying but ‘talking’ as they do — a few rows from the stage. I made a few jokes about the baby not disrupting my show, and they were well received, then moved on.”

He continued that the baby "called out again."

“Now I was quite concerned."
“In my experience of doing comedy for nearly 35 years, an audience’s focus is a delicate thing. If a noise or movement distracts people mid joke, the payoff can be greatly diminished.”

Then, with about 50 minutes left in the show, he “made a difficult decision."

“I then calmly informed the woman holding the baby that the baby couldn’t stay."
“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 for her to get a refund, as a gesture of good will.”

He added that it was a "very tough call" he made “on behalf of the other 700 or so audience members who deserved to see the show they had paid for, uninterrupted.”

Barker also claimed he didn't know that Faranda was breastfeeding at the time.

“This was ALL to do with AUDIO disruption of my show, nothing more."
“For the record, I support public breastfeeding, as it’s perfectly natural.”

He finished the statement:

“This was a complicated situation, and I did what I thought was right, but I do feel bad for any upset it has caused the parties involved, or my fans, or babies."

While Barker also mentioned that the show specifically stated that it was for audience members "strictly age 15+,” Faranda said no one questioned her when she entered the venue, telling The Project that it wasn't like she was trying to smuggle her baby in.

You can watch more below.

Mum Speaks Out After Being Thrown Out Of Arj Barker's Comedy

People on social media were split over Barker's actions.

A couple of fans present at the show chimed in, claiming that the baby was, in fact, making distracting noises, and Barker's decision had nothing to do with the mother breastfeeding.

And others on social media defended the comedian, as well.

But many also expressed their disappointment in Barker.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival also made a statement regarding the incident, claiming they were aware but not responsible for what transpired.

"Arj is independently produced and at a venue not managed by the festival, however, any interaction between performers and their audiences requires sensitivity and respect."
"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."