This week's new live comedy

Kettering's James Acaster doesn't immediately come across like a star.

James Acaster, Lawnmower; London, Darlington & Edinburgh

A quiet, unassuming sort of comedian, he delivers his standup in a low-key, slightly nasal style; as if the demands of being a stage-dominating showman just don't gel with his natural modesty. But it's a classic case of appearances being deceptive, because what he offers is some of the most assured and effortless comedy around. Lawnmower is his third full-length Edinburgh show in as many years, and while there are plenty of comics hoping for a career leg-up as a result of a successful fringe, Acaster has the tools here to become a genuine breakout. He is adept at mixing inspired whimsy with straighter observational material, and presents nuggets of semi-scholarly pop-cultural theorising (including his original take on Yoko Ono's effect on the Beatles) alongside bits of bizarre, clearly fictionalised autobiography.

The Slug And Lettuce, SE1, Sat; Inside Out, Darlington, Sun; Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, Wed to 25 Aug

Henry Paker: Classic Paker; Brighton, London & Edinburgh

If there were a dictionary definition of "comedian's comedian" Henry Paker would fit the bill perfectly. Ask young stars such as Seann Walsh and Josh Widdicombe, and they'll tell you Paker is a genius, the funniest man they've ever met. Wider acclaim is surely only a matter of time. Spending an hour watching him on stage is like eavesdropping on a bizarre inner monologue, with a dizzying, eclectic mess of odd characters, peculiar catchphrases and wonderfully infectious nonsense. There's a touch of Eddie Izzard about his approach, but filtered through a very different sensibility. There's no dragging up here: Paker's a terribly cultivated gentleman who's more likely to be found smoking a pipe and wearing a perfectly blocked hat than putting on a pair of stockings.

Three And Ten, Brighton, Sat; The Queen's Head, W1, Downstairs At The King's Head, N8, Sun; Underbelly, Edinburgh, Wed to 26 Aug

Kunt And The Gang, Edinburgh

It seems completely redundant to say that Kunt And The Gang aren't for everyone. When you give your act a name like that, it's hard for the audience to complain they weren't warned. A one-man-band (the "Gang" being something of a misnomer), Kunt offers musical comedy containing minimal musical value (think keyboards on demo mode) and some of the rawest and delightfully filthy comedy around. With non-stop references to genitals, sexual intercourse and (mainly) wanking, this is all gutter stuff, but when you push this schoolboy humour far enough there's a kind of bizarre bleakness that comes through. It's absurdly pretentious to compare one of his c-bomb-dropping, offence-laden anthems to Beckett, but it certainly has the same obscenity-becomes-profundity quality as (say) Sadowitz or the best of Derek and Clive.

The Free Sisters, Fri to 25 Aug

Powered by article was written by James Kettle, for The Guardian on Saturday 27th July 2013 06.00 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Rachael