On June 1, 2017, I entered Whelan’s with great trepidation. Not because of how poorly lit it is and you could fall down anytime. No, because I was going to see James Acaster.
Let’s backtrack a little while I explain my history with Acaster.
My current partner and Mario Kart nemesis is a massive fan of him. A few years ago we went to see him at the Cat’s Laughs Festival.
It was an odd crowd and James was dealing with a few hecklers. He was also trying out new stuff (Thanks for doing that after I paid 30 Euro for a ticket.) It was my first real exposure to him and it wasn’t the greatest start.
A few months later we went to his Edinburgh show, Represent. Hoping a full show and with the crowd on his side (You would just assume they would be after buying a ticket with his name on it) that it would be an amazing show.
Alas, it wasn’t. It was downright boring. I almost fell asleep. One guy in the audience did.
Afterward, my girlfriend tries to defend the show by saying “it was more performance art/spoken word then stand up comedy and that at least he was trying to do something different.”
Which is true but don’t call it stand-up comedy and put it in the comedy section. Put in the bloody Performance art/spoken section and let people know what they’re getting.
But my girlfriend still thought he was great. So Last Christmas I bought her a pair of tickets for Mr. J.A. and to prove my love for her I agreed to sit through another one of his shows.
Six months later we ended up in Whelan’s. The show sold out and a large group of the lower to middle-level comedians of the Irish comedy scene were in attendance. Hell, it was like a gig in the battle of the axe.
The show starts with James setting up his microphone while audio clips of him being introduced from various comedy clubs played until he was ready to go.
From the start there a great bit of crowd work and gentle mocking of himself. The show centered on James going into the witness protection program, hence the title Restart.
The highlights were the Brexit comparison using teabags, leaning tower of pisa and how not to take a passport photo. Most of it was good to very good but the problem for me didn’t become apparent until the second half.
James is touring his last three Edinburgh Shows:
Recognize, Represent and Reset.
Tonight was the final one in Dublin. After Reset was done he said he was going to take a 20-minute break and do another show.
It was called Recap. A collection of some of his famous bits and some new stuff. I assume because I’m not enough of a fan to know which was which but people seem to react to certain bits like there were old friends.
It ended with a long bit about a duck that tied all three shows together. James thanked us for coming and the show was over.
It was during Recap that I realized my problem with Acster. I can see how clever, funny and well put together it is. But it never connected with me.
I enjoyed both shows but can only say I really laugh a handful of times. Spending most of the time admiring the thought and skill he put into his writing.
It like hearing a great band live but you only like a couple of their songs. You still enjoy it and respect the level of work that goes into it but your not rushing out and buying their CD’s. (Look I know how dated that sounds, but saying you don’t rush out to listen to their playlist on Spotify just doesn’t have the same impact, does it?)
Good thing to see was the venue had to move James to the bigger room due to demand. It’s nice to see people come out and support comedy especially something not so mainstream.
The downside is this never seem’s to happen for Irish comedians. Acster and people on his level play around England in venues this size and (just about) make a living.
Only David O’Doherty could really sell out Whelan’s like these for three nights.
It’s sad and sometimes depressing to think if you want to make money from comedy you have to move to England. Who the fuck wants to live there? their crisps are wired and you have to go the last night of the proms, whatever the hell that is.
The only way to help is by supporting new comedy and got the perfect chance for you to do that. On Tuesday June 6th I’m will be the MC for Camden Comedy at Anseo Bar on 18 Camden Street Dublin. We kick off at 9.00 pm.
Here a link to my recent interview with the comedy cast:
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Thanks for reading, I’m off now to the Cat’s Laugh Festival this weekend. Hope to have a report of my weekend for the next update.