I have a confession to make. I had never been to a live comedy show before – for a start, there was no one I wanted to see that much, the tickets can be expensive, plus I have a fear of being picked out of the audience and humiliated. However, last year, when I found out that James Acaster was playing his hometown, I knew it would be an extra special experience. I grabbed the very last ticket.
I’m really glad I did. I have literally never laughed so much in my life. My face was hurting. You can read more about James’ offbeat style of comedy here in this book review. I found that he is much funnier in a live show, than on TV or in his book.
34-year-old James began the show by swaggering on to the stage, in sunglasses, red trousers, snazzy trainers and a funky jacket. He opened his mouth and a torrent of expletives tumbled out (a bit of a ‘Tony Clifton’ moment). Although he never used to swear in his shows, that’s changed now, because his audience have become too mainstream apparently and he’s trying to sift them out. Throughout the show, he insulted us all (the people of his beloved hometown Kettering) and did his best to persuade us to leave. No one did, however, and it was a full house. He asked if the local Member of Parliament (Philip Hollobone, a very right wing Conservative, who has been the MP for Kettering for over 15 years) was in the audience. Hollobone either wasn’t there, or maybe he was and shrank back in his seat. James proceeded to mercilessly take the mickey out of this pillar of the establishment.
There were various themes in his show: his mental health, therapy, Brexit, his ex-girlfriend hooking up with Mr Bean, and the Great British Bakeoff experience which turned James into a famous meme (‘started making it’ / ‘had a breakdown’ / ‘bon appetit!’). Cleverly he linked the ending of the two-and-a-half hour show back to the beginning. Sometimes he couldn’t keep a straight face, laughing at his own jokes, which was rather appealing. He also went off on tangents and was distracted by the audience (someone in the front row crumpling a Minstrels packet and someone else’s face lit up by the tell-tale blue glow of a phone) – his own phone even rang during one of the most dramatic moments… I reckon that must have been a set-up. He overran both segments of the show because of his tangents. I had read that in other shows on this tour, he actually remained on the stage during the interval, checking his phone and ignoring the audience, but this time he went out.
It was a brilliant evening and I would definitely see him again. I’m also a little in love with him now (shhh, don’t tell anyone). I also think it’s great that he played two nights in his hometown, even though he’s now too big a name for it. Maybe he just wanted to tie it in with visiting his parents, who still live there. Oh, and there were no mentions of cold lasagne or 1999 in this show, which is what you’d expect really.
Screenshot taken from the booking website.