James Acaster: Represent (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

James Acaster: Represent

A spectacularly absurdist trip into law, justice and tasty religious treats

Minutes before James Acaster takes to the stage, Supertramp’s ‘Logical Song’ is belting out. Was there ever a more appropriate warm-up tune for a Fringe comedy show? While from the outside the Kettering comic’s scripted universe might comprise a litany of arrant nonsense and absurdist grandstanding, it makes its own perfect sense. It’s also unlikely that a show in 2010 would have made more of the trapped Chilean miners than Acaster does so hilariously here as he steadily crawls towards the essential beef of his show.

Last year, he revealed to an astonished throng that he was actually a private detective working deep undercover as a stand-up comic; this time around he’s staying on the right side of the law as a member of a murder-trial jury. His willingness to be one of the 12 disciples of justice seems ever more remarkable when you consider his torrid past in a less than notorious south-west London gang.

Despite the inherent meaninglessness of his musings, nothing happens in an Acaster show for no good reason. So, when he makes a meal of getting his mic stand and stool in the precise ergonomic spot before he begins the show properly, they become the Chekhovian firearms that will emerge later when his world threatens to rip apart at the seams of his slacks.

There may well be something deeper going on in Represent about truth and justice and faith (his religious upbringing also gets an airing of sorts, leading to an impressive reconstruction of a food-based ritual at the show’s finale), but it’s better to just surf the wave of Acaster’s over-active imagination. Having already appeared on three Edinburgh Comedy Award shortlists in a row, it seems almost inconceivable that this tremendously vital hour won’t earn him another nomination. A different kind of judge will then consider his fate.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 8.30pm, £9–£12 (£8–£10.50).

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