Another drive up the A38/A30 to Exeter, this time the Bike Shed Theatre, a lovely, if slightly arty, cliquey venue. Not cheap behind the bar either but we weren’t here to drink, we were here to see the whimsical James Acaster, last seen by us at the Northcott supporting Greg Davies over a year ago (we won’t forget James in a green skin tight lycra suit pretending to be a bonsai tree, but he’d put it on backwards and the hood part was covering his face!) .
Starting fairly well on time, first up we had James’s support act Stuart Laws. Nominated for the second consecutive year for the Fosters Comedy Award in Edinburgh, we had somehow managed to miss seeing him up to now and Dave was looking forward to seeing him.
On the stage (which was being shared with the backdrop of the Exeter in the Blitz play which was also going on), was a whiteboard on an easel. We had taken second row seats for a change (the front extra row that had been added on were un-upholstered and looked hard and uncomfortable!) but this didn’t stop Stuart Laws picking on Dave’s slightly over enthusiastic “YES” when asked if he was ok. Before we knew it Dave had had his name written up under James’s name which was already up there…cue lots of worries about just what was going to happen with this device?!
Stuart Laws takes after his near namesake, Tony Law, in that his act has a definite surreality to it, and you just have to go with the flow…don’t try to analyse it too much. We had animal noises, Center Parcs, and lots of deranged silliness, all very enjoyable for us surreal enthuisasts, and with the audience being here for James, well known for his whimsicality and imagination, I think they were probably having a lot of fun too!
Stuart left the stage introducing James as he went off, and we were straight into the main act. Well, where to begin? James gave us tales about his school days and the sort of music he liked, Mariachi, (!!) which got him a lot of stick from other students. We had lots of Mexican based references and then we got a lesson about how the French can’t rhyme without just repeating the same line again. (Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques) and that the English did something similar with London’s Burning, which got the additional info that it must have been written by a French man!
There was some good natured banter to the audience, (Long hair/short hair guy on the front row who now looks nothing like his profile picture and “What’s your favourite Percy Pig sweetie?” )
We also were asked if anyone had ever seen a play because James didn’t like the way the cast came back on from different places and took too many encores. Your two bloggers also took a slight telling off, me because I was being a bit noisy with the “woos” and Dave for saying “Shall I take her back to the car?” No, I was being allowed to stay, but only if I hushed up a bit! Lesson learned!
A break, and then James went into a whole sequence, picking on a guy in the front row, berating him for saying that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles. Then he back tracked quite quickly saying he’d missed a bit which would have made the Yoko Ono bit make sense. There was a lot more on this topic which just got funnier and funnier, James holding up pictures of the band and telling them off for their comments on Yoko. Paul, Ringo and George’s names were all added to the whiteboard.
We then had comparisons between the Beatles and the band that played on board the Titanic as she went down.
You really need to see James for yourselves, he’s a clever guy and it’s all so well done with plenty of callbacks to previous material, delivered so ingeniously that at first you don’t realise what he just did there!
The whiteboard “list” did indeed come up again (as half expected) at the end, but it could have been a lot worse. All I can say is that the “list” is to be believed, Dave has a very dodgy past”!
Anagrams: James Acaster – A Jet Massacre, Stuart Laws – Walrus Stat
(Dave: After 250+ shows this year this was one of my absolute favourites – so much going on and a unique style)