James Acaster, Represent, Edinburgh Fringe review: Fails to clear the high bar he's set himself

What once felt like comic insouciance now veers perilously close to smugness

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The Independent Culture

With three consecutive Comedy Awards nominations under his belt, Acaster is the Fringe’s current golden boy. Sad to report, though, that his latest show fails to clear the high bar he’s set for himself.

Last year’s masterfully-constructed 'Recognise' began with him claiming to be an undercover policeman: here again he casts himself as an arm of the law, offering an account of his supposed experiences doing jury duty as part of a motley dozen including a “log-flume hype man”. However the premise this time proves a tenuous thread for a show which is less than the sum of its surreal observations.

Not that those observations aren’t frequently brilliant; he manages as ever to talk an absurd kind of common sense, whether questioning why lamps have switches on their necks or setting out the logic of catching people’s attention by shouting your own name rather than theirs. But he also has a problem of manner: what once felt like comic insouciance now veers perilously close to smugness.

And while the hour is tied up with a rush of callbacks and a concluding message about life’s increasing incomprehensibility, it feels like a case of retrofitting this rather aimless set with purpose.