ComedyNorth WestReviewStand Up

James Acaster: Reset – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Matt Forrest

There seems to be a continuing thread linking Kettering’s favourite son’s stand-up shows: in 2014 he was an undercover cop, in 2015 he was on jury service, and this year he’s joining the witness protection scheme and looking for a fresh start in life and the chance to follow his dream of building wells in Kenya.

unnamedThe premise of Reset centres on Acaster and a rather ingenious honey selling scam. However, things go sour and as the business grows he needs to employ more staff to help with this elaborate scam. This turns out to be a big mistake and in a bid to save his own skin he ‘grasses’ on his business partners in the hope of a new life.

Like with Acaster’s previous shows Reset isn’t ‘about’ the witness protection scheme….it is merely a device for the comic to take us on a journey that shoots off in many different directions. Stand out gags of the first act include Acaster’s quest to purchase one of the shopping dividers from the supermarket (“And so begins the longest day of my life”) and Acaster’s very unique interpretation of the do’s and don’ts of having your passport photo taken is sublime because of its absurdity as the lanky comic contorts his body into all manner of positions without explanation.

Following the interval we are treated to a routine with a bit more of a satirical bite as we take a look at Britain’s colonial past: in particular, the way we refuse to give our ill-gotten gains back. A set piece involving the British Museum gift shop is a work of genius. Like with most comics, Brexit gets a mention: however, not many comics will be comparing leaving the European Union to that of making a strong cup of peppermint tea. This, of course, is Acaster’s strength – what at first appears to be a sporadic script in actuality is a well crafted, polished piece of work. He masterfully weaves his way through the various stories and narratives to a satisfying yet unexpected conclusion. The real triumph is Acaster’s confident delivery, we soon become immersed in his stories and forget how silly they are.

One of the recurring sentences uttered throughout the performance is “If I had my time again I wouldn’t change a thing”. This show certainly deserves a repeat viewing if only to catch the gags you might have missed the first time around… A word of warning, however, Auld Lang Syne may never sound quite the same again.

Reviewed on 27 November 2016 | Image: Contributed

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