Interview: James Acaster

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJames Acaster began performing stand-up comedy in 2008, after the bands he played drums for in Northamptonshire broke up, and he “decided to do comedy before deciding what he really wanted to do”. A year or so later he appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe. Since then, Acaster has twice been nominated  for Best Comedy Show at the Foster’s Comedy Awards, and Best International Show at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. He’s appeared on our screens on ‘Nevermind the Buzzcocks’, ‘Russell Howard’s Good News’, ‘Dave’s One Night Stand’ to name but a few, and will be bringing his ‘Recognise’ Tour to Bristol’s Colston Hall on the 28th November. The Fix caught up with James ahead of the show:

In your own words, give us a short biog on yourself.

I was born in Kettering, played in bands then turned my hand to stand up age 23.  I live with my friend Joe and watch a lot of Netflix.

Can you tell us a bit about your new show, Recognise?

It’s about my life as an undercover cop posing as a stand-up comedian. It’s low key and whimsical and includes some props. It’s my favourite of my shows so far.

Can you tell us about the highs and lows of being an undercover cop?

My wife left me. That’s a low. But on the plus it’s a really cool thing to tell people when they ask what you do for a living, even though I’m meant to keep it to myself.

What tips would you give to other under-cover cops who are disguised as comedians?

I would tell them to write what they know. It’s done me no harm to talk about the job. None whatsoever.

How did you get into comedy?

Through being a show off and needing a way to fill my days. Plus my band split up so I didn’t have much going on at the time.

What do you do to prepare for a gig, any warm up habits?

I sit in a corner and catch up on my text messages, pretending like I don’t have to do a show in a few minutes.

What has been your most interesting/funny/bizarre gig experience thus far?

A 4 yr old child got on stage and did his version of beat boxing once, he basically made a sound like a pig oinking for nearly 7 minutes.

What did you want to be when you were young?

A rapper and a vet. Simultaneously.

If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

The man who often gave his seat up on buses then let himself down by looking around proudly to see if anyone had noticed

You’re often described as ‘low-key’, how do you manage to remain so unaffected by the chaotic world around you?

Maybe I am affected by it, maybe the chaotic world around me is the reason I’m low key.  Hmmm?


Is it fair to say you’re one of Kettering’s biggest exports? How does it feel?

I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m one of the biggest exports.  It feels good to be from Kettering, it’s a mellow place, full of hip dudes.

Kettering is famous for its Weetabix factory, something you’ve covered in the past. What is your favourite way to have Weetabix and why?

Milk and sugar – the classic.  The real trick is to get them as firm or supple as you like.  You develop a great sense of timing when you’re a regular bix eater.

Which comedians inspired you to pursue a career in stand-up?

There was a man in a red jacket who hosted the village variety show when I was 12.  He was funny and made telling jokes look like an enjoyable profession.  Looking back though some of his jokes were inappropriate.

If you want to check James out this November get tickets by clicking here.

By Kevin McGough