NZ International Comedy Festival: James Acaster - review
Friday 25 April, 2014
I’ve overcommitted at this year’s comedy festival. I think I have 10 shows to review, which is too many, but nothing can be done about that now. What’s important from here is self-care.
After 10 shows, it’s going to be hard to laugh, and not just at the comedians, but at anything ever again. So many comics wringing the humour out of every last bit of life will eventually wear me down. I’m not young. I have a small baby who doesn’t sleep well. I’m already right on the edge.
I wish I could have made the comedy festival schedule myself. I wish, specifically, that I could have put James Acaster last. I could imagine myself, walking into The Classic in a jaded daze three weeks from now, ready to half-listen to another collection of reasonably funny stories, but having long ago stopped caring. Then Acaster would walk on stage with his poor posture and I would start laughing immediately and an hour later I would be refreshed and ready to re-enter the world, knowing there is still laughter to be had.
Guy Williams was at the show last night. He snuck in the back. “Shit he was good,” he said. I asked him what he thought I should say in this review and he said: “I think his biggest strength is his original voice. There’s no one like him.”
The show is built around a narrative backbone in which Acaster is an undercover cop posing as a stand-up comedian. It climaxes in a brilliant section in which he plays his own podcast about his experience of undercover copping. It all feels so fresh and funny. Maybe, over the next few weeks, I will see someone fresher and funnier, but it seems unlikely. It was a terrible way to start the festival.