Young Peter James is a startlingly good comedian, despite being cursed with two first names instead of a first and last name. He started his career at an early age – even before becoming a National Finalist during the 2015 MICF Class Clowns competition – and can only go up from here, as is evidenced by his 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show ‘Word Person’.
Despite the title, James is more of a word-and-music person than just a word person, as his show intertwines hilarious musical numbers with stories of his past, present, and even perhaps a little bit of his future (i.e. his desperate need to find deodorant that actually works under stage lights). His stories span his entire life, with mentions of his type 1 diabetes, his love life, and his family, as well as a drawn-out Christmas tale told in a pleasant storybook fashion.
Dangerously relatable, James delighted his audience in the Vault Theatre of the Speakeasy HQ, an extremely intimate performance space that felt tailor made for him. Amongst the deep red, fringed curtains and the glamorous armchairs and couches, James glowed onstage, opening with an ode to the comedian-audience relationship (which was… definitely not as expected).
James’ skill with a guitar mixed charmingly with his totally crass humour, and his audience remained hanging on every word, desperate to not miss a single joke. The joy of the Vault Theatre is that, due to its intimacy, there’s a lot of eye contact to be made between comedian and audience member, and James took every opportunity to stare lovingly into the eyes of his fans, or to poke fun at people who laughed a little too hard at his jokes.
While there were a few flubbed lines – MICF is in Melbourne, not Adelaide – James’ skill with improvisation is evident, as he admits to pulling jokes and stories out of thin air during the show itself. And luckily, even when his nerves were a little extra obvious, his unerring charisma ensured that everyone was still having a good time and all imperfections were smoothed over.
James is a skilled performer with fantastic comedic timing, and is definitely not one to be missed. His micro-expressions rival those of the best live comics of our time – with the easy addition of a single quirked brow or twitched lip he drew rounds of raucous laughter out of his audience. His early shows may be in smaller venues just outside the city centre, but in a few years there’s no way he won’t be performing to Athenaeum Theatre-sized crowds.
Take a chance on the little guy, and let him entertain you with his angelic voice, filthy analogies, and his words. After all, that’s his title.