Fringe review: Arj Barker – Power Hour

Arj Barker’s Adelaide Fringe return is like a 30-year greatest-hits album that has been remastered and refined with a few new tracks for an hour of hilarious musings. ★★★★

Feb 23, 2022, updated Feb 23, 2022

Arj Barker’s signature style of comedy and endearing self-deprecation has made him a favourite with local audiences for most of two decades.

He loves this city, too. Why else would he be “constantly defending Adelaide when people are talking shit about it?”.

Things have changed in the years that the American comic has been performing here. “They’ve got a hospital now, with indoor facilities” – a comment that receives gut-busting laughs from the crowd.

Barker draws in the audience with his low-spoken serious tone before delivering a sucker-punch as he quickly ramps up on the verge of shouting to animatedly drive home a point, almost always to rapturous laughter.

With a smaller crowd on an early week-night slot, some bits of the routine don’t quite get the volume of laughter they would on a Friday or Saturday night, but the intimacy of the show is a bonus and Barker always has a jibe when the crowd response is lukewarm.

The show is sprinkled with short quips to the front row as the comedian brings you into his world and, as great comics do, makes the audience feel as though they are along for the ride with him.

There is no overarching theme to Power Hour, but that is part of the charm as Barker manages to seamlessly transition between unrelated topics such as being attacked while cleaning a toilet bowl, near-death experiences and solar eclipses that seem to happen every Thursday.

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The show crescendos with a philosophical rant about maturing, embracing your age and living in the moment, before ending on a fantastic call-back joke that we can’t give away.

Be warned, you may never use a Uni-ball pen the same way again.

Arj Barker: Power Hour is in the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 20.

Read more 2022 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews here.

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