• Comedian Arj Barker on ‘Mastermind’. (SBS)Source: SBS
One comedian with a head full of UFO trivia takes on Australia’s smartest quiz show.
Shane Cubis

28 Apr 2020 - 4:00 PM  UPDATED 28 Apr 2020 - 4:00 PM

Did you know comedian Arj Barker, known for both his earwormy theme songs and routines about water, is also really into UFOs? He's so into them in fact, that he decided to test his mettle against the geniuses of Australia on Mastermind.

And his episode goes to air this week. 

After he recorded the the show (in the pre-Coronavirus world), we managed to catch him for a chat. Wellllll, we managed to steal his mobile number and call him while he was en route to the airport, flushed with his standing on the day. How did he go against the other three competitors, you ask? No spoilers, but…

“I gave my all,” he says. “I’m in the top five (of four contenders), I’m happy with that. No, it was a lot of fun. Everyone’s really nice. Jennifer is really nice to work with and she’s a lot of fun.

"I was pretty relaxed because it’s really no pressure to try to be funny."

“I’m hoping to get an earlier flight, that’s why I’m going to the airport, but otherwise I’ll probably be rat-arsed in the lounge by the time I board my flight. I’ll be drunk-challenging people to trivia in the lounge, trying to relive my glory.”

While some stars of stage and/or screen would’ve opted to compete in the rarefied air of Celebrity Mastermind, our aliens expert chose to get down’n’dirty with the great unwashed boffins of the general public (or maybe his schedule didn’t allow for the first option). Which means less caviar and more competition – a potentially stressful situation for any member of the glitterati.

“Those guys are sharp in there,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for those other competitors. But no, it wasn’t really stressful – I was pretty relaxed because it’s really no pressure to try to be funny. Anything you do that livens it up, they seem to be delighted. I tried to have a little fun, kid around a little bit.

“Looking back, I would’ve done even more smartarse answers when I didn’t know the answer. I should’ve just made up some funnier ones, but in the moment, I’m very competitive and that takes over and I’m like, ‘I really want to get the right answer.’”

Of course that competitive streak didn’t extend to a lot of time spent boning up on his special topic, the USS Nimitz UFO incident: “On the flight up this morning, I started looking over the material a little bit. Typical, the way I do things last minute, I always put things off and I always crammed right before the deadline. So that’s what I did today. I was familiar with the case prior to that, but I would not consider myself an expert on it.”

Arj has actually been into UFOs for a long time (here’s some relevant footage from back when it was called The 7PM Project), but it wasn’t like he was abducted as a child or anything: “Just like the same way as a lot of things, you just sort of go into the rabbit hole online and then, occasionally it shows up in the news and you just started to wonder about it.”

Exactly the kind of non-committal response you’d expect from someone who has become part of the Majestic 12-Project Serpo conspiracy complex.

See how Arj fares when his episode of Mastermind premieres on Thursday 30 April at 6:00pm on SBS (and SBS On Demand afterwards). 

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