Always the bridesmaid never the bride is perhaps a somber way to sum up James Acaster’s Fringe experience to date, having been nominated for more Edinburgh Comedy Awards than anybody else, without yet picking up that gong. His latest triumph Reset, however, could be well on its way to achieving that success.
Intertwined narratives and intellectual humour are the reason James Acaster continues to be the king of Fringe.
The show discusses the idea of what would we do if we could reset our lives, and James flirts with a concoction of disjointed themes masterfully. A deconstructed microphone stand and upside down stall, which James reassembles at the beginning of the show, wittily exemplifies his theme without him having to utter a word.
He begins by discussing the common phrase, “If I had my time again I wouldn’t change a thing,” being a tragic waste of time travel, moving seamlessly on to the guilt that should be felt about England’s colonial past. Weaving in and out of stories utilises James’s talent for “callbacks”, or reintroducing themes or quotes from previous sketches, with pinpoint precision.
His disdain for museum rubbers and long weekends are so eloquently explained, it is easy to forget they are asides from his main points of conversation. The way he uses a cup of peppermint tea (taking the tea bag out or leaving it in) to explain Brexit sounds like a line that will be replayed at many a gathering.
Kettering-born James is not afraid of silence, and it is in these moments of quiet that an audience member can to digest his lateral way of storytelling. Confessing to being even a bit too “wacky” for even his own taste, this may be the case for some potential audience members too.
Ending on playing the Scottish favourite Auld Lang Syne is a quirky way to end a show, having deliberately made no introduction to it. Though he has a Frank Spencer Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em skittish quality to him, there is nothing ineffectual about this comic flare.
If you’re looking for light entertainment, this is not the show for you. Intertwined narratives and intellectual humour are the reason James Acaster continues to be the king of Fringe.