Review: James Acaster: Amongst Other Things – Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
Following a busy year supporting household names Milton Jones and Josie Long, James Acaster has found the time to produce his first hour for Edinburgh. And much to the delight of a fairly tipsy Saturday night audience, it’s a cracker.
Proceedings began with some adept audience interaction as Acaster made the most of a couple of punters whose drinking endeavours made them difficult to ignore. This element of skilled audience participation ran throughout the show and highlighted a sharp, spontaneous wit that nicely complemented his rehearsed material.
An assured storyteller, The Laughing Boy New Act of The Year 2010 has a distinctive, low energy style focused on picking apart life’s more humdrum elements and bringing them to life with a whimsical glee; he had the room in stitches when describing the daily battle of slicing cheese, for example.
His considered approach is brought to life by a delightfully silly grasp of the English language and a hilarious physicality to his act. Acaster is also blessed with a comically lanky, angular frame that he has learned to use to his advantage, squeezing laughter out of the audience with his every gesture.
Amongst Other Things is an excellent showcase for Acaster’s yarn spinning skills, as he wins the audience over with whatever particular ramble he takes us on, whether it be the antics of Andy Brown or the pitfalls of playing pranks as an adult.
At times, his low energy style, coupled with some longer audience interaction sections, meant there were some lulls in proceedings when the tempo dropped. And whilst generally very strong throughout, the show’s finale, centred on a cuddly toy that has replaced him in his mother’s home, didn’t quite live up to the standard set in the preceding fifty minutes.
However these are minor foibles with what is still a consistently original first hour from a man with serious talent.
Date of live review: Saturday 6th August 2011.