There's something distinctly unglamorous about the visual experience of Reset. James Acaster is dressed fully in old-beyond-his-years brown garments, including a shirt with an unfeasibly large pocket. Behind him, a mustard yellow backdrop that looks like it's spent several weeks crumpled up in the back of a van gives him a faintly jaundiced hue. The mic stand looks like it's been converted from a 1970s hat stand, and the lead seems to have been taken from an iron.
If the definition of cool is not caring if you're cool, then Acaster is it. Not that this, or anything else he does is accidental, for as he reminds us at one point during the show, "I've been in this biz for a while".
Reset may not be the show that brings the most hilarity this Fringe, but it certainly does bring many of the most original and unusual jokes – unsurprising from one who is widely critically acclaimed, and plays to sold-out houses. The performance was halted many times by spontaneous applause at his intelligent, subtle and downright weird material. He is a superb storyteller who excels in creating humour from, and elevating the stakes of, the most banal of topics – such as a critique of different types of erasers (where he comes down particularly hard on those found in museum shops).
A great number of Brexit jokes are inevitably doing the rounds this year, but Acaster's has to be one of the best: his use of the metaphor of a peppermint tea bag in terms of leave or remain (the details of which I won't spoil) is particularly clever. The opening and closing segments of the show aren’t so strong, however; the jokes they contained seemed overly drawn out. But this may be entirely intentional, with much of the humour being a slow burn and requiring a little more patience and commitment than some other comics' more quick-fire style.
While perhaps not quite as dazzling as some of his previous shows, Reset is nonetheless a very high quality offering from a comedian who has long since set the bar very high for himself. A ticket to James Acaster does not disappoint – but with extra-show dates already being added, don’t wait too long to book one.