James Acaster: Reset

james acaster web

09/08/16

Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

James Acaster establishes a positive atmosphere within seconds of appearing on stage. ‘You’re my ideal audience,’ he tells us, ‘Exactly this audience. Each of you. Sitting in those exact places.’ It’s a ridiculous conceit, but it works – and ensures an easy rapport that serves him well throughout the set.

Despite being in one of the Fringe’s larger venues (the 320 seat Pleasance One), the show’s a sell-out and that’s no surprise. Acaster’s TV presence means that people have heard of him and, when there are so many shows to choose from, familiarity is a simple short-cut in the selection process. But his popularity is deserved: his observational humour operates on a micro-level of scrutiny, and his flights of fancy are charming and well-controlled.

The concept here is ostensibly starting over, ‘resetting’. What would you do differently if you could erase the past and begin again? But it’s not really much about that at all. There’s an extended bit about a honey-scam that’s very funny indeed, and some wry asides about Brexit and peppermint tea. It’s all very accessible and good-natured, and the hour flies by far too quickly. My nephew, who’s with us tonight and has seen Acaster live before, says the 2014 ‘Recognise’ show was even better, but this one is well worth watching nonetheless.

I’d urge you to get a ticket, but you probably can’t. He seems to have sold out his whole run. Kudos to him; he deserves it.

4.7 stars

Susan Singfield

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