Edinburgh 2013: James Acaster: Lawnmower


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The Independent Culture

Last year James Acaster beguiled his way on to the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards shortlist with an artfully crafted study in mild lunacy. This year offers something similar, equally well-shaped, and equally kooky, but it sails so close to the wind of being inconsequential that a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the room for portions of the show.

The mission statement-slash-theme is that the lanky boy from Kettering wants clear the name of Yoko Ono for her alleged crime of splitting up the Beatles, something that he will achieve by starting a mariarchi band and adhering to the stoicism shown by the band which played on the Titanic.

A lively opening, fuelled by the simmering energy of a 'nerd-gangsta' approach, sees Acaster muse on the art of sky-writing and the self-affirming qualities of questionnaires, described as "exams I know the answer to."

The pall falls when he gets unstuck on a routine about pictures on banknotes, despite the smart line about Googling money that kicks it off. It's obtuse stuff, and is followed by a slow deconstruction of Beatles' quotes about Yoko Ono, where the humour extracted from then is at 33rpm when it could be at 45rpm.

Poetical passages and an artisan's eye for structure, keep Acaster from going entirely nowhere in show scattered with call-backs. Nonetheless, the faces of the audience show concern at being mesmerised by a jester that they don't entirely trust.