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Review: James Acaster, Amongst Other Things, The Basement, City Screen, York
James Acaster may be a relative newbie to the comedy circuit faced with a rather empty Basement, but his insouciant show was full of heart, promise and laughs belying the audience’s size.
Yes, his excitement over little things - seeing the sea or hiding behind doors – meant there was a lot of trivial and perfunctory material. The first half of well-honed deadpan routines felt sluggish.
It instantly felt fresher after the interval. Experimenting with germinal ideas added spontaneity and urgency. An adept storyteller he can give vigour to the mundane and display strong word play: “People say I’m too sensitive; that hurts my feelings.”
Acaster has no problem building to a punch line slowly using prolonged silences: as well as being easily distracted by the whistling winds in the venue, some of his routines were drawn out (notably his “donut-faces” and his impression of a man sneaking through a dark bedroom). It is an enviable skill but in need of more discipline.
His physicality and penchant for the whimsical and eccentric offered the strongest moments. His flexuous “Pie Dance” saw him flail around like Woody from Toy Story and he described his skydiving experience by lying on the back of a helpless and bewildered punter. The conversation between his loose change and the finale starring a cuddly bear were both amusing and bemusing.
There is already evidence of bucket-loads of talent, confidence and eccentricity. When his potential is fully realised, James Acaster will never have to worry about small audiences again.