Alice Harbourne - Gatherandhunt.co.nz'James takes his role very seriously, in fact, commiting to an hour of delightfully innocuous jokes - from how Brit food chain 'Pret A Manger' ripen their avocados to the deconstruction (literal and figurative) of a conga line'open/close
'I recently bought a bag of ready to eat apricots, and they were right, I was ready to eat apricots' was one of my favourite jokes of 2013. It was uttered by James Acaster in his signature impassive yet passionate manner at last year's Comedy Gala.
What we didn't know then, but discover at the beginning of his latest show, is that this was all in fact an act of a bigger scale than we could have ever estimated. James is really an undercover police officer, posing as a comedian to ensnare the reams of drug dealers that populate the stage doors of the comedy circuit across the UK. He's in New Zealand accidentally, at the hands of an inept booking agent, who actually also happens to be an undercover cop.
As ruses go, a comedian who makes innocent jokes about fruit is a good one. James takes his role very seriously, in fact, commiting to an hour of delightfully innocuous jokes - from how Brit food chain 'Pret A Manger' ripen their avocados to the deconstruction (literal and figurative) of a conga line. But because he's a master of deception, it slowly dawns on us that these jokes are in fact also in diguise, they're not purely incidental, but integrals of a wholly complete behemoth of a show.
It's very intelligently crafted, constructed in frames within frames, culminating in the playing and commentary of his comedy/criminal podcast 'The Wire', which features his drug dealing Eastender pals as guests.
There are plenty of comedians that instantly gratify with a quick premise/punchline/repeat formula. James' show takes a little more thought from the audience, which makes the closed loops and recurring call backs so richly satisfying that when the punchlines do hit, the laughs are sincerely hearty.
Go along and he'll make you feel great, reminding you that we're all too good for free mouldy bananas, but not for brilliant jokes about them. I just hope his cover isn't blown anytime soon.
For the original review head to:
His is a refreshing humour, sharp without resorting to any cheap tactics to get a laugh. His set relies on the intelligence of the audience and he is not a comedian desperate for each laugh. As one point he's elaborately setting up a gag around divorce (it's not your usual set up around divorce) and an audience member bursts into laughter, “There's nothing remotely funny about that!” James protests...
For the full review head to:
I won’t be the only person gushing about James Acaster, the young Brit comedian who is currently performing at the Classic in Auckland. Following a sold out season at the 2013 NZ International Comedy Festival, Acaster was bound to be a hot ticket again this year.
His new show is the perfect stand-up with brand new material that showcases not only his clever observations, but also his ability to create a flawlessly enjoyable and slightly surreal hour of storytelling.
If you saw his show last year then you will be in for a surprise. Turns out James has a secret, and he’s just dying to tell us all about it. Before doing so he has some thoughts to share first.
Acaster’s highlighting of life’s loopholes is a real eye opener, especially for 1980′s ice skating fanatics. Eatery ‘Pret A Manger’ provides him with some food based anecdotes from the perfectly ripened avocado to the slightly over ripe banana. Don’t even get him started on the flavour of Dr Pepper.
As he gets into the full flow of the show it’s just layer upon layer of excellently executed comedy monologues, one of which includes his comparison to gangster life and a conga line.
James Acaster already seems to be an expert in his craft. Throughout the show he keeps his deadpan persona, while he delivers his well thought out material and conducts his audience into fits of laughter. A truly excellent hour of comedy.
For the original review head to:
Liv Barnett - Macandmae.com'He had a wit that didn’t require a PhD to understand, but also had no need to steep to the lows of toilet humour or the belittling of female sexuality...'open/close
Well what a good laff! This chap was loveable right from the start, with his floppy school-boy hair and awkwardly fitting corduroy blazer, James Acaster looked like he could have walked out of the Railway Children. But alas! He was witty and up to the minute, using ideas that anybody could get a hold of; the avocado turning room that Pret a Manger use, the multiple secret ingredients in Dr Pepper and the making of his podcast, “the Wire” in which he is an undercover cop, pretending to be a comedian, infiltrating a gang of thugs in (what sounded like) London.
Denying his name James Acaster, telling us his real name is Pat Springleaf, this English chappy was no picnic short of a sandwich. He had a wit that didn’t require a PhD to understand, but also had no need to steep to the lows of toilet humour or the belittling of female sexuality. So he got big brownie points from me. Plus, he was able to maintain long and windy stories that would always come back to his overarching themes, catching the audience out as he linked random acts back to previous skits, to the point that we were bursting with unexplainable laughter.
To be fair, there were possibly a few one-liners that stunk of British sarcasm and irony that I did seem to be the only one laughing at. But he did a good job of adapting his act to a New Zealand crowd, and did an even better job of sounding out the cheeky kiwi’s at the front who decided that texting their mates and eating a packet of crisps were the ideal things to do in the first 10 minutes of an hours stand up show.
Overall, I would definitely recommend him to anyone that fancies an easy listening stand up that isn’t too jawdroppingly crude or lude. He was the kind of stand up you’d take home to mum. Cheeky, charming and a bit camp.
James Acaster’s style of dead pan delivery is difficult to beat. Very funny and another highly recommended show.
See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2014/04/26/5-star-comedy-preview-the-old-mout-cider-comedy-gala/#sthash.CLGLjTR6.dpuf
Rosabel Tan - Pantograph Punch'Acaster weaves so many threads together, seamlessly transitioning from one disparate topic to the next, that the invisible choreography of his set is startlingly complex and the comedy it creates a total joy'open/close
Often, you’ll notice something when it’s lacking in a show (funny jokes, good taste) but it’s rare you’ll notice something when it’s present, unless it’s particularly exciting or new. You get this in James Acaster’s show.
Completely deadpan and simultaneously baffled by and indignant about the world around him, Acaster has a talent for picking minute details from his day-to-day and focusing in on them with Seinfeld-level attention and outrage, pushing us down extended acts of logic that are both delightfully absurd (if only for the amount of time that’s been spent overanalysing them) yet wonderfully rational and relatable.
Idle thoughts, overheard passing comments and fleeting ambitions become topics and situations that require serious unpicking: we encounter a checkout operator muttering snarkily that he’s too good for a free banana (actually, yes, he is too good for a free banana) and childhood dreams of wanting to become an undercover cop (“But I didn’t tell anyone, because I didn’t want to grow up, become an undercover cop. First day on the job, already blown my cover, running my mouth all round town as a child.”)
He creates unexpected pairings that bring real delight (leaders of gangs and leaders of congo lines) but the most impressive element of the show is the way he plants and retrieves details like it’s Chekhov’s ultimate gun collection, each callback a cleverly repurposed reference casting the current gag in a new light and giving it new gravity. By the end it feels not unlike watching someone turn a really complicated string trick into a perfectly knitted sweater: Acaster weaves so many threads together, seamlessly transitioning from one disparate topic to the next, that the invisible choreography of his set is startlingly complex and the comedy it creates a total joy.
For the original review head to: