FRINGE 2013 – Arj Barker – Arts Theatre – 4K

arj-barkerBy Peter Maddern

When the Fringe was every two years, Arj’s season would prove to be one of the highlights – a biennial treat. But when the Fringe went annual, having him (like many other performers) every year was proving to be once too often mainly because there is nothing easy about coming up with new material annually.

So have we been enriched for his 2012 absence? Yes, indeed we have.

As much as we like to condemn Americans for having no view of the planet beyond the shorelines at New York and Los Angeles, Arj brings something quite rare to the Fringesphere of stand-up comics – a worldly view. It may be at times a warped and bizarre perspective but it is global. And where other ‘comics’ seem determined to get their way to 60 mins by ditching into the most crude material, Arj can be relied upon to keep it cerebral – last night, where others, 40 minutes in, would be going for the groin, Arj regaled us with fun facts about the universe from Astronomers’ Monthly magazine.

I mean what other show does that along with jokes about laser eye surgery, noises of the Amazon being hacked up, sure fire tips on how to get sex with a girl on the first date, tears from the i-phone factory, eclipse apps and standard issue diarrhoea. But is it all from somewhere else? No, his carving up of those silly MAC Night Walker ads was magical.

Arj is also a master of microphone management (beyond where he holds it) and while his time away seems to have somewhat mellowed the man – his peaks of maniacal excess were not as prevalent last night as in years gone by – his experience at the caper means he can enjoy his performances while delivering nearly as much as we do witnessing them.

Good having you back Arj.

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