A breastfeeding mum says she was ‘humiliated’ after popular comedian Arj Barker asked her to leave his Melbourne Comedy Festival show.

Mum Trish said she went to the Athenaeum Theatre over the weekend to watch the US comic’s show, taking her seven-month-old baby with her.

But part-way through his show, Trish said Arj stopped and asked her to ‘take the baby outside’.

“(It made me feel) pretty humiliated actually, because he was quite intimidating,” Trish told 3AW.

“He was standing right in front of me.”

She said she had planned to sit close to the door, in case the baby got too loud.

“We were sitting there and she gurgled a bit — it was probably the equivalent of somebody coughing. People weren’t turning their heads to look at us, she wasn’t screaming, she was just being a baby. She gurgled a little bit, had a bit of a whinge, nothing loud.

“I was actually breastfeeding while he came and stood in front of me and then he told me to leave.

“I didn’t want to impact other people, people were out to have a good night and that’s fine.”

According to fellow comedian Ellen Mahoney, the baby was somewhere towards the front, and was being noisy and throwing off the rhythm of the performance.

“I would argue that comedy isn’t the place for babies,” she added.

She says Arj made a couple of jokes involving the baby, but as the baby got louder, he asked the woman to take her baby outside.

“What ensued was a tense stand off of confusion between the woman not sure if it was a joke she had to leave and Arj trying to get the show back on track.”

However, Ellen explains that what happened next was ‘awful and gross to witness’.

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“Men in the crowd loudly started telling the woman to get the f*ck out. Loud, aggressive male voices.”

Trish says some audience members left along with her, in protest.

Supporters of the breastfeeding mum have taken to social media, leaving comments on Arj’s social media posts.

“Listen, some of us mothers actually deserve a night out too!” one person commented. “Sometimes we want to go out to be cheered up from being stuck indoors with a crying baby 24/7 postpartum depression, covered in baby shit & spew. You’re an entertainer & should provide entertainment to everybody…. Including parents who are doing it tough & sometimes don’t have babysitters! Not everyone is lucky to have family or friends available to help or can afford a babysitter!”

While another said,”With all due respect, if a tiny breastfeeding infant is enough to put you off your game, maybe your game isn’t strong enough.”

Arj has released a statement, defending his actions, but saying he does feel bad about the situation.

“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 said.

“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.”

What’s your opinion on this situation? Let us know in the comments below. 

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  • I’m not sure about this. I mean it’s a comedy show. Do you really need to take your baby? But the breast feeding part shouldn’t be an issue.


  • The woman should not have taken her baby to this show. Full stop!


  • This whole things is just crazy. Who brings a baby to a comedy show that’s in the evening. Yes people are entitled to a night out but do you really need to bring a baby especially to a show that is for over 15 year olds.


  • I would never take a baby to a live show unless it was a children’s show. The mother is at fault in this instance. Listening to her being interviewed on TV the child never shut up and interviewers and mother had to shout over it. I could imagine this would be distracting for Arg Barker and for all his audience sitting around her.


  • I really do feel he could have handled it better if he felt she needed to leave. BEcause yeah, unfortunately there are some places babies don’t belong.


  • If in the terms and conditions it states age restrictions then the woman is at fault. It should not have been up to the comedian to point this out and humiliate her. They should of stopped her at the door and not allowed her in.


  • As much as I am all for parents, he was in the right to ask her to leave.
    The minimum age was stated on the bookings. Yes they are a baby, but at 7 months old babies are sometimes mobile and vocal. I would have hated to be some of the people sitting next to her trying to hear the show (which paid money for) and struggle to hear. At no point did he direct it at her for “breastfeeding” – Breast feeding doesn’t give you an excuse in this situation to have your baby there.


  • If it states the age of the youngest person allowed then this woman did the wrong thing by taking her baby. Would she have taken her baby to the opera? She was in the wrong but it also should have been handled differently. Maybe someone backstage should have approached the woman quietly or not seated her in the first place.


  • What if the person in the crowd had a disability and was yelling out, or just a heckler which we know do this at concerts, I feel like if Arj was clever enough he could’ve incorporated the baby into his jokes and perhaps made the woman decide herself to leave. To the men yelling out, wow what heroes you are! So tough sitting in your seats in the dark for no one to see you


  • As a performer myself, I know that noise from the audience can be very distracting. This woman was at the front and a kid that old would have been fine to be left with a babysitter. She thinks her baby wasn’t being loud, but obviously others beg to differ. Don’t make it about the breastfeeding as it’s clearly not about that.


  • Just wonder if the comedian would ask someone to leave who has the cough and sneeze and causes ditraction too ? or someone who has to laugh out loud for a prolonged amount of time and causes distraction ?


  • It just wasnt the place for a baby end of story. As other paid patrons, i would understand their frustration and common sense should have prevailed here.


  • Breastfeeding babies and Mums are a unit. Accommodations should be made to support breastfeeding mothers, not isolate them further.

    • Sorry but I disagree with you. She’s taken her baby to a theatre where everyone is listening to a comedian, maybe she could choose a different event where noise won’t bother other patrons.


  • I can see both sides but if the baby is that distracting maybe Mum should take her outside until she settles. It’s a very loud environment for little ears as well. He didn’t need to get the audience to heckle her as well though.


  • This whole situation has been blown out of proportion. Simple fact: the baby was noisy in a very quite surrounding. Why in gods name would she take a baby to a comedy show.
    Dave Hughes even said at his show this same mother and baby were there, and the baby was making a noise. The media is giving her too much airtime.


  • I wouldn’t take a baby to an event like this. This Mum absolutely deserves a night out. There are other entertainment options. I also understand other people have paid money to enjoy this event. The male heckling that was reported though is just appalling behaviour. I don’t think there are any winners in this situation.


  • This situation has been turned into a breastfeeding headline for no reason.

    Other audience members have said the baby was noisy and causing a distraction during the show. Common sense should prevail, the mother left her other children at home with a sitter why not the baby too? She could have expressed and enjoyed a night out.

    Arj said it wouldn’t have mattered the gender of the parent he still would have ask them to leave as it was the noise of the baby that was the issue. He also said he wasn’t sure if the audience heckled at him or her as he couldn’t hear it clearly, hence him not responding.

    Also you have to question if the situation was so humiliating for the mother then why appear on multiple tv and radio shows? Five minutes of fame more like it.


  • am hearing lots of different opinions on this one, like on the radio


  • My opinion I wouldn’t bring a baby to an event like this, it’s loud and inappropriate.


  • I don’t think there should have been a baby there in the first place.


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