Ewan Gleadow

Stand-Up Review: James Acaster – Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999

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Copyright: Edward Moore

 

Changing a persona is a hard task to accomplish.

Stand-up comedy and panel shows are full of personas, most of them safe attempts at projecting some semblance of comedy onto paying audiences. They work, they roll out the same topical anecdotes and trivial stories that rely on some form of brief, fluttering comedy.

Expanded upon, they make for a wholly engaging story that might be made up of lightly faux detail. James Acaster reinvents his stage personality with Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, a special that takes us deep into the mind of a consistently hilarious stand-up comedian.

Digging into his cultural status and the appearances he’s made over the years, Acaster drums up some solid routines by talking through the laughter behind his crazed and embarrassing moments. Even with the larger set and swankier camera angles, Acaster can pride himself on engaging with an audience in a superbly intimate and friendly manner.

The slightest of actions elicit roars from the crowd, his performance on stage relying just as much on action as it does on keen wordplay and inventive anecdotes. His brief tangents make it back to his initial point with forthright brilliance, a knowing glimmer in his eye whenever he dives into some strange topic that seemingly has no connection with his initial point.

Acaster has a similar presence on stage to that of Stewart Lee.

The biting comments made about the audience rather than at them and the ability to go on winding tangents but end up at the same conclusion, Acaster presents a wholly fulfilling brand of comedy; manic, energetic and fluid, extremely different to that of Repertoire and far removed from what older fans may expect of him.

The change in pace is a welcome one, too many comedians immediately bog themselves down on subsequent tours by clutching to their previous success. Innovation is the way forward, and few comedians can pride themselves on doing so. Acaster is one of them.

Openness and mental health in comedy is rather too frequent a topic, but Acaster handles it with both care and earnestness. He ditches the oddly assembled brown suits in favour of a vaporwave jacket and matching sunglasses. It provides visual growth, relaying this message of expansion to the material with ease.

His ability to turn a turgid state of affairs that impacted his mental health into a tight, two-hour comedy show, is a testament to the abilities Acaster has on stage. A rare case of the true story being hilarious, Acaster provides situational comedy that just appears to be another mundane piece in the puzzle that is his life.

Fresh and original, nothing less should be expected from Acaster. Only two recorded specials into his lifespan and he’s already leagues above the rest.

It doesn’t surprise me.