Edinburgh Festival 97: Comedy: Arj Barker

On the Fringe
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The Independent Culture
Straight stand-up is in danger of drowning in a sea of novelty acts. So much so that it's almost a surprise to see one man and his mike making observations about the Tube and Boots. And winning the Perrier Award for best newcomer into the bargain.

Arj Barker is a refreshingly old-fashioned talent. The closest this young American comes to radicalism is dimming the lights to write a complaining letter to last night's audience.

But he demonstrates that there is still a place for a funny one-liner and that you don't have to dress up as a fading showbiz legend to deliver it.

Barker laments that: "I'm in love with a philosopher and she doesn't even know I exist. What's worse - she can prove it."

More downhome sweetness than an entire series of The Waltons.

Arj Barker is at the Pleasance (0131-556 6550) to 30 Aug

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