Review: James Acaster, Repertoire, netflix

Not one, not two, not three, but four James Acaster shows have just started streaming on netflix under the overall banner of Repertoire. There is Recognise (2014), Represent (2015), Recognise (2016) and, perhaps most interesting, Recap, which pulls together material from older shows and very cleverly ties some loose threads together. Ducks are involved.

"I don't want you to think I'm weird," says Acaster disingenuously during Recap. His topics of conversation suggest otherwise. Let's face it, have you ever wondered what it would be like if your whole body was made of the type of skin your lips are made of. He may not be weird but onstage he certainly has a sideways view of life, coming at subjects from bizarre angles.

Some of his flights of fancy are clearly constructed just for comic effect. At least I hope so. Does he really keep a tally chart of what ducks think of bread (two options - "can't get enough" and "nonplussed")? Elsewhere he has a story about meeting a woman via a game of Twister. A version of this also crops up in his book Classic Scrapes, so it must have happened. I don't mind giving these routines away because Acaster delivers them so well they will still be gut-wrenchingly hilarious.

As it has become compulsory to say about his work, Recap, like the other shows, is exquisitely crafted. Nobody puts a sentence together quite like Acaster (although I did briefly wonder if relative newbie John Kearns is influenced by his rhythms). Nothing is wasted. Throwaway lines come back and serve further jokes later on. During a riff about Shrove Tuesday he dubs crepes "undercover pancakes". I might use that myself in future.

Is it all true? I doubt if he was ever a lollipop man or an ice cream man, but he is so funny I don't really care. At one point he cricitises people for "sloppy storytelling". You certainly can't criticise Acaster for that.

Clear your schedules for four hours and watch these shows back-to-back. 

Repertoire is on




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