James Acaster The Trelogy

Raphael Solarsh

The everyday turned into hilarious absurdity; plus Christingles.
James Acaster The Trelogy

James Acaster image via Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Yes, we all love a good joke but they can easily become monotonous. A good story on the other hand can wind on for ages without tiring. If it’s well told that is. James Acaster can spin a good yarn but he doesn’t stop there. He is able to unleash a torrent of unbound imagination that miraculously holds together in some of the strangest and most brilliant stories of everything from jury duty to the mischievous thoughts of a young catholic boy. He brings three shows to Melbourne for this year’s Comedy Festival; these words are in response to The Trelogy (Reset).

Though he starts with the big questions – where are we from, how did it happen – his focus is the small, the fascinating minutia of how we think and judge each other. In doing so he achieves that rare feat of making idiosyncrasies compelling, relatable and laugh-out-loud funny. He doesn’t do this by searching for common ground in the chaos of thought but by heading as far as possible in the other direction. The sheer lunacy of some of his stories is enough to make even the most neurotic among us feel at peace but at the same time they’re hugely cathartic and have a strange believability of their own.

To impress you, a weight may will pick up something heavy, an athlete will run fast but these are blunt shows of strengths. What Acaster does is string together his observations so that the only way that they can hang together is if each sequential notion maintains the same surreal absurdity of the one preceding it. It’s audacious but when it works and he manages to create a strange little world by encircling you with his hatter-esque thoughts, it’s magic.

His crowd control is second to none and despite is mile-a-minute speaking style he is not afraid of silence, from which he still manages to conjure laughter. It’s like we’re being sucked into the quantum world where left for long enough, something will eventually spring from nothing. And like the universe itself it all rushes out from the void at superluminal speed. It’s no less difficult to explain what must be going on inside Acaster’s head but unlike the big questions about our purpose in the world, you’re happy to leave it unanswered as you laugh uncontrollably.  


Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

James Acaster

The Trelogy (Reset)

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival

4–16 June 2017

Melbourne Town Hall      

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Raphael Solarsh is writer from Melbourne whose work has appeared in The Guardian, on Writer’s Bloc and in a collection of short stories entitled Outliers: Stories of Searching. When not seeing shows, he writes fiction and blogs at raphaelsolarsh.com and tweets @RS_IndiLit.