James Acaster: Reset

In a recent conversation with a young established comic, he stated James Acaster is the comedian of our generation. In consideration of the rest of the pack, I don’t think it can be denied. His 2015 show Represent was a master craft, faultless, perfect hour of comedy, one of the finest I’ve seen in over fourteen years as a Fringe voyeur.

Like Represent, Reset is an hour that contain Acaster’s hallmarks of observations that are unparalleled by his peers, his ability to abstract observations from the most banal of objects, common behaviours and manufacture them into whimsical skits with glorious pay off. A certain segment about supermarket checkout till dividers could be the best thing I hear at this Fringe.

As is the general theme that’s crept in a lot of performers shows, particularly those who feel the need to demonstrate their liberal sensibilities, Acaster delivers a criticism of British colonialist sentiment and xenophobia, with such coyness those he is criticising could be even blinded to the fact they are being ridiculed. Again as is part of what makes Acaster typically ahead and beyond is the delicate weaving of narrative strands that could appear to be jumbled but in fact are all heading to the same direction and tied neatly at the end.

It’s hard to really find fault, yet I couldn’t help but feel I much preferred Represent to Reset. A particular joy of last year was his ability to deal with interruptions and deliver a response that resulted with volcanic eruption of laughter, exemplified in this show when a single piece of falling confetti was dealt with laser sharp wit. Yet personally I felt there were moments of self-indulgence with lengthy monologues at the wrapping up stages of the show that didn’t have the payoff it felt it was building up to. There are not many comedians who can generate as many weighty laughs per minute but I’ve still to really experience a moments of having my sides truly split open. Regardless, I can’t think of a more confident comedian that looks capable of ever have a bad gig.

★★★★ and a half

Chris Aitken



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