Reset, James Acaster *****

James Acaster

Set within the framework of having to enter witness protection following a scam involving buying and selling honey to a supermarket going wrong, James Acaster’s “Reset” examines what our lives might be like if we could start afresh. With 4 Edinburgh Comedy Award nominations for Best Show under his belt, could this year finally see the big win? Having spent an hour laughing myself stupid, I would have to say it would be a crime if 2016 wasn't Acaster's year. 

This show sees the comedian launching into his trademark preoccupation with the small trivialities of everyday life which have made him so popular, but where he has developed and excels this year, is with the addition of some really snappy punchlines and deliciously sneaky pride. He is still sharing his hilariously pedantic opinions, but this year there's a greater sense of sharing proceedings with his audience in a more casual way than we are used to. Acaster is surely confident by now, that his full houses are due to the stage persona and immaculately crafted material, so perhaps this year he is beginning to share his enjoyment a little more. This is a comedian who has more than proved his worth in writing and performing, and it's a joy to see him bask in the evening’s stage time a little more.

Opening with a stare out across the audience, and the announcement that he has been waiting for the best audience ever…which evidently, we are, gives the audience a sense of being special (though we know he says it to all the punters!) and we are onside immediately. In true, perfectly written and crafted Acaster style, the ‘what if…’theme allows him to touch on Brexit (obviously the key presence at this year’s Fringe) without being overly pushy, and take us through an extraordinary whistle-stop holiday taking in Ancient Greece (via the British Museum), a set piece of physical brilliance visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa extending to an outstanding metaphor for Post-Brexit Britain, and even some thoughts on the damning tone of British phrasing when compared to the friendly banter of New Zealand. The last of these being the phrase I (may or may not) have adopted into my own dialogue ever since! 

In addition to the beautifully woven journey he takes us on, there are so many singular moments in this hour that further warrant the recommendation of a ticket, all of which stem from the astonishingly fanciful train of thought that Acaster is master of; his consistently awkward physical presence conjuring a praying mantis and a special wardrobe feature that is well worth the moment he takes to tell us about, to name but two. One cannot attempt to create a metaphor witty enough to give a recommendation so I will merely suggest you beg, steal or borrow to get a ticket for “Reset”, and in counting the days down to the Comedy Awards, I hope the progress and panache James Acaster is showing this year is recognised and given the reward it so rightly deserves.  

James Acaster's "Reset" is running at the Pleasance Courtyard until 28th August at 7.30pm.