US comedian Arj Barker argues that our sense of reality and the world around us is only what we know of it via individual consciousness, so it is always filtered. Once you take that on board, he claims, some key and daunting philosophical issues are laid bare.

What do we perceive that actually has free-standing existence? Are there really colours, for instance? Do farts truly smell? The unstated and key question afterwards seems to be: How can all this be made to seem funny?

The many scatological jokes that follow tend to be juvenile and, more importantly, not very imaginative or well-delivered. When these dominate, you risk winning half the audience and losing the other. Barker tackled this very issue, suggesting that, if you don’t like a show, you should recommend it to friends anyway, specifically to share your suffering. That got a laugh.

His subject matter is wide-ranging. Sex is a frequent topic. There is also talk about the nature of love, especially for dogs, and a long, scattered joke about coffee with some harmonica playing thrown in.

Barker has never been afraid to spruik his “merch”, making that a basis for further jokes, and this time he could extend it to promoting a forthcoming movie as well. He saved the best for last with a telling Academy Awards skit that went straight to the heart of the current AI debate.

If the jokes were often confronting, that’s no accident, of course, and each audience member will decide when rude is also funny. Barker’s material is mild in that respect. It might be of more concern that the humour sometimes falls flat.

In all, The Mind Field is uneven show but with enough laughs to satisfy most of the audience most of the time.

Arj Barker: The Mind Field is at the Spiegeltent in the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 9.

Read more 2024 Adelaide Fringe coverage here on InReview.

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