Arj Barker: Let Me Do the Talking, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

Winner of the Perrier Newcomer award in 1997, this 36-year-old US comedian is now best known for his appearances in the hit comedy Flight of the Conchords.

Combining a knack for the art of gentle surrealism with a streetwise swagger, like a slightly more badass version of Demetri Martin, albeit without the tight one-liner format, Barker is an easy comedian to watch and listen to without ever being someone whose thought-patterns you take for granted.

Accusing Nasa of being hillbillies because they shoot things at the Moon is just one delicious example of Barker's shtick. His routines build without too much contextualising and wastage. He approaches the phenomenon of 3D movies from various angles, all of which pay off, even the more surreal premise of saving the people in the front three rows from injury at the hands of enhanced screen action.

A prolonged routine about using an internal hotel telephone as his home phone is, in parts, one of his weakest yet it never palls into something resembling a lull.

The energy and trust Barker has built still keeps us expectant and quietly confident in that expectancy. There will be bolder comics on the Fringe than Barker, more raucous and lustful in their quest for the big laugh, but this show is a great example of not peaking too early.

To 29 August (not 16) 0131 623 3030

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