ComedyNorth WestReview

James Acaster: Classic Scrapes – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Matt Forrest

You will probably be more familiar with James Acaster than you think; numerous appearances on Mock the Week and spots on Q.I and Live at the Apollo have certainly helped boost his profile and will see him forever more be a part of the comedy merry-go-round that is TV channel Dave.

However, it is radio where Acaster received his first big break with a regular slot on Josh Widdicombe’s XFM show: each week he would regale the audience with a tale – or ‘classic scrape’- from his past. So popular were these ‘classic scrapes’ that Acaster has turned them into a book of the same title, and he was at the Lowry to promote it, read a few excerpts and give his fans an insight into his world with a Q & A session.

Acaster strides onto the stage clad in his trademark mustard coloured jumper looking exactly like the book’s front cover. He has a brief bit of banter with the audience, in particular with one late-comer whose appearance seems to dominate the first half of the show. Acaster then proceeds to read extracts from his book which include tales of a parrot whilst in Holland and a rather unfortunate sky diving incident. Acaster is a fantastic, engaging storyteller whose dry, dead-pan delivery is perfect for the whimsy and absurdity of his tales.

Following a few more stories, Acaster raises the house-lights for the Q & A session, and it’s here that the shows fortunes take a turn for the worse: an anecdote about Acaster recently turning on his home town of Kettering’s Christmas lights brings forward an uncomfortable stand-off between Acaster and the late arriving punter, and it’s something that the show never really recovers from and left somewhat of a dark cloud hanging over the second half.

Following the interval, it’s more of the same: only this time there are a few distractions in the audience: which included one women constantly filming the show or talking throughout despite numerous pleas for her to stop, and one heckler who just didn’t know when he was beaten. Acaster deals with both situations masterfully and demonstrated just how quick-witted and versatile a performer he is, however it upsets the momentum and flow of the show. More extracts from the book are well received, especially what turned out to be the final reading about being ‘cabbaged’ by his friend’s son, and the rather lengthy and expensive manner Acaster resorts to in order to extract his revenge – the undoubted highlight of the show.

However, the second planned Q & A session ends rather abruptly with the heckler from earlier seemingly thinking that everyone had come to see him and not the act on the ticket. Acaster thanks us for coming, however, was clearly frustrated by the outcome of the show, which certainly wasn’t the finish he intended.

Acaster is one of the smartest and talented performers on the comedy circuit right now:he is clearly a gifted performer, who has a surreal, and absurd sense of humour, however, what should have been a fun entertaining night left all concerned with somewhat of a bitter taste in the mouth… it certainly wasn’t the cabbage that’s for sure.

Reviewed on 3 December 2017 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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