Ken Cheng: Chinese Comedian | Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) | Star rating: ***
Ken Cheng establishes his cerebral persona and pedantic wit with a bravura opening routine, a forensic dissection of the phrase “to kill two birds with one stone” that he accomplishes with scientific precision, testing his various theories against exemptions and loopholes, before expanding into other avian-based sayings and an observation on the 2011 South African cricket team.
Elsewhere in this impressive debut from the Cambridge maths student turned professional online poker player, he playfully deploys a series of amusing graphs, his infectious pleasure in the graphic depiction of his various flights of fancy, matched only by his delight in the deconstruction of syntax.
His bluntly sardonic, almost deadpan delivery has a bracing arrogance that suggests misanthropy. Or at least an inability to suffer lesser mortals, which he indulges with straightforwardly cheeky trolling on the internet.
In some instances, this triggers insightful instances of racism. However, while baiting strangers is an entertaining way to while away an afternoon, here it serves as a slightly too obvious light relief from Cheng’s more intellectually-inclined shtick, while reminding you of Adam Buxton’s superior approach to keyboard blowhards. This, and a tendency to use paedophiles as an argument-ender aside, though, he is clearly a fiercely accomplished talent.
• Until 27 August Today 4:45pm.