Hilary Wardle

Review: James Acaster – Prompt – Pleasance Baby Grand, Edinburgh.

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James Acaster

James Acaster’s Prompt is subtle and halting, a slow burner rather than a constant series of gags – but it’s certainly worth the effort. He cuts an awkward figure on stage in his tweedy trousers and shirt: a bit like Prince Harry with a Kettering accent (a fully clothed version, of course).

Speaking of Kettering, don’t go to this show if you don’t want to spend the next several days with their football chant inescapably lodged in your head. Acaster pushes repetition quite far: to the point that…


Whoops, sorry about that: it’s like some kind of football chant Tourettes.

As I was saying, Acaster pushes this chant to excess, testing the audience’s patience and setting us up for a show that’s as unpredictable and challenging as it is funny. At one point, a wooden duck essentially takes over the show with a surreal guilt-filled monologue; you don’t get that kind of thing on Live At The Apollo.

Likewise, his lengthy routine about the research he’s conducted into bread is probably the most individual piece of writing you’ll see at this year’s Fringe. If you’re the kind of person who has always wanted to discuss the number of crumbs it would take to coat a chicken kiev, then you’re really in for a treat…

However, there are times his slow talking, gimlet-eyed persona gets a little too much. It’s like watching a comedy version of Rain Man, particularly the aforementioned breadcrumb section. But Acaster is certainly a refreshing change from the many comedians who try too hard, almost forcing the ‘affable comic’ character.

“I’m James Acaster,” he seems to say. “I’m holding an exercise book full of hand-drawn graphs. I’m not going to make any more of an effort than this, so you need to take me as I am.”

Prompt is a strange kettle of fish (in fact, it’s a surprise he doesn’t pull out a kettle made of fish, come to think of it…) but Mr Acaster is captivating, fun and individual. And that’s what the Fringe is all about.

Date of live review: Monday 20th August 2012.