For a respected British comedian, quite a number of years into his game, James Acaster is easily distracted by his surroundings. The noisy hall adjoining the Town Hall’s Powder Room does cause quite a bit of annoying sound pollution from festivalgoers who need to make use of the nearby amenities, but an audience is generally more interested in hearing a comedian’s routine than having their attention brought to the disturbance by the man on stage.
Despite being easily thrown by clatter in the hallways and audience members who look less than engaged in his routine, Acaster has a naturally whimsical style that makes his slightly peeved off tone entertaining, rather than annoying.
Acaster’s shtick is built around a nerdy persona that makes him an unlikely gangster, despite his stories of being involved in rather tame street ‘warfare’ in the English midlands. Continuing a trend, he has determined that his delivery style won’t be enough for us to understand that he’s a bit of a dweeb, so an unnecessarily dorky outfit screams that at us from the start.
While his routine could do with some adaptation to where he is playing, rather than arrogantly ploughing on with references that don’t mean much to an Australian audience and making uninformed comments, Acaster’s act is actually well devised. By talking about his time on a jury and using the lives of his fellow jurors as a jumping off point, he uses their varying personalities and backgrounds to pull together a bunch of disparate stories that are genuinely entertaining. Wrapping this up in a supposed life-long dream of jury service works well and makes for a funny routine overall.
Assuming he gets used to the room and observes his surroundings more before commenting on them, Acaster’s naturally haughty style has the potential to be endearing to Melbourne audiences.