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James Acaster: Repertoire

Netflix’s comedy specials have gone pretty well overall, in my opinion. There have been a few that failed to wow, which is to be expected, but I think most of us agree that, if nothing else, it’s been cool to see some of our favorite comedians back in action (cough cough Dave Chapelle cough cough). There have also been some delightful new comedians on radar thanks to these specials. One new to me comedian is James Acaster. I’d seen him once as a guest on the British TV show 8 out of 10 Cats and thought he was funny, so when his Netflix special popped up in my “recommended for you” section, I thought “sounds delightful” and gave it a go. It’s about four-ish hours of my life I’ll never get back, and I’m quite content with that.

Acaster’s show does several things I like. First, it calls back to jokes from earlier episodes, but the delivery is smooth as heck. Most of the time I didn’t even realize he was building to a call-back until the joke was already tumbling out. I’m not big on surprises, but I make exceptions when they’re funny and cleverly done. In fact, “clever” is probably one of the most apt words for describing this four part, binge-worthy set. I also really enjoyed how fresh the material felt. While there were some bits that tread across tried and true territory, most of the jokes and stories were bits I hadn’t heard in some form or another over the years. It kept my attention in a way that routines about relationships, family, and parenting struggle to.

To be fair, there were some things that I didn’t care for. The most prominent problem I ran into was difficulty understanding some of the jokes. He has a few bits that require a little more knowledge of England than I possess, so there were several points where the audience was laughing uproariously and I was sitting in my bedroom, sulking, because I hate missing out on a good joke. The other part that I didn’t always care for (but may actually be a strong selling point for others) were the bits where he drug the joke out. It reminded me of a Family Guy episode, in that respect, and I wasn’t quite as keen on it as most of the other material.

Overall, the special was great fun. I recommend watching it straight through instead of breaking it up over several days. I think the callbacks land best when it’s all still fresh in your mind, and, darn it, Acaster deserves the appreciation of an attentive audience. Four hours is, perhaps, an ambitious amount of time, but only if you pretend you don’t binge watch 10 hours of a TV series like the rest of us garbage individuals. It’s four hours of your life you’ll never get back, and you won’t even be mad about it.