When I last reviewed James Acaster in 2016, I said the next time he came to New Zealand he’d be doing a show at the Opera House or somesuch because he was that good that smaller venues couldn’t contain him.
I said tickets to see him would be about $50. I was pretty wrong. His tickets are only $35 and he’s at Te Auaha, not the Opera House.
I also said that the show in 2016 was the best NZ Comedy Fest show I’d ever seen. That holds. It’s still the best show I’ve ever seen. This year’s show is great, but it’s not quite as great as his earlier effort.
He’s still a complete pro. Everything he does has clearly been poured over to wring out maximum laughter from us and he nails it nearly every time. It’s a slightly different persona on stage for this show, James has been through some shit. And that shit makes up a lot of this year’s material.
If you watch Taskmaster, you may have seen James on it in a recent season. He slowly unraveled as the season wore on and Rhod Gilbert annoyed him more and more. That slightly unraveled James is who we got on stage. The show’s theme is one of deconstruction.
James deconstructs the audience, he deconstructs New Zealand and he, himself, is the victim of a deconstruction of sorts.
In doing this, he maximises all of his talents. That sort of high pitched whiny voice is used to its full range and he flails his oddly limber body around the stage to add another layer of comedy to his words. There’s some brief audience interaction which was quality, and even a technical glitch is worked into the show with smooth brilliance.
The show does hit a wee lull about a third of the way in as James lingers over bits perhaps a bit long and oversells some material that isn’t quite worth it, but it soon picks up and we whir through another 35 minutes of a stand-up comic at the top of his game.
I believe his shows have damn near sold out, so if you are able to book now do it. It’s a brilliant show from a top-class international comic.
Te Auaha, Big Theare, May 14-19, 7.00pm
Full Price $35
Group 6+ $32.50