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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow James Acaster: Amongst Other Things
James Acaster: Amongst Other Things
Published on Sunday, 14 August 2011

3 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
3-15, 17-29 Aug, 9:45pm-10:45pm
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

 Recommended for age 16+ only.
 Recommended for age 12+ only.

It's hard to say what to make of James Acaster.  It is certainly worth your while catching his first solo hour at the Fringe… but I'm not exactly sure why.

The basic narrative device at work in the set is an old-fashioned 'return to your roots', as Acaster recounts a trip home to Kettering (the home also of Weetabix).  That's just about as exciting as it sounds, and yet is still very funny.  It almost invites a lazy invocation of the Seinfeldian maxim of being about nothing.

Nothing wouldn't be quite accurate, though: nothing of any importance is closer to the point.  There are amusing anecdotes about sex pests at parties, and onion rings the size of a donut.  There's also something of a through-thread about the expectations of going home, and the realisation that home has changed in your absence, which adds a touch of surreal poignancy as he discovers he has been replaced – in a very real sense – in his mothers' affections.

But an hour is quite a long time in which to say nothing much at all.  Acaster has a very slow and deliberate delivery to start with, and some set-piece sequences are drawn out even further.  This worked well at points – the sex pest impersonation was excellent – while at other times it went on too long (staring at donuts) or seemed altogether surplus to requirements (skydiving with a member of the audience).

Acaster has had a busy year, supporting national tours by Milton Jones and Josie Long, and he is clearly liked and respected by a number of big-name comics.  He is someone we will be hearing a lot more of in future, and Amongst Other Things will cement his growing reputation.

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