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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

James Acaster on Netflix: smart comic interlude


One of my favorite quotes from the movie "Raising Arizona" — maybe my favorite Coen Brothers film — is uttered by John Goodman.

One of the Snoats brothers — he's Gale, William Forsythe plays the younger Evelle — he's eating breakfast in the home of his former prison pal H.I. "Hi" McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) and feeling the contempt of Hi's wife Ed (Holly Hunter).

When Ed won't let Hi out of a planned date with his supervisor and wife (San McMurray and Frances McDormand), Gale — with Goodman showing perfect comic timing — delivers the classic line, "So many social engagements, so little time."

I feel that way about what's available for home streaming. My wife and I watch something different every night. Sometime two or three things.

Speaking of comedy, one thing we watched over the weekend was the Netflix comedy collection "Repertoire" by British standup comic James Acaster. I say collection because "Repertoire" is a mix of four different shows, of which we watched on the first.

Acaster's comedy — in fact much of British comedy — is an acquired taste, both because his accent is sometimes hard to understand and because some of the references aren't all that familiar, especially when they start talking about any politicians aside from Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. (The same holds true for other Brit comics, even the controversial ones such as Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle.)

But in the first segment of "Repertoire," Acaster has at least three classic routines: one involves language (the use of "he or she"), one involves politics (likening Brexit to brewing a cup of peppermint tea) and one involves colonialism (the British Empire's theft of so many countries' cultural treasures).

At his best, Acaster is brilliant. And just the antidote for this depressing time of quarantine.

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