James Acaster

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Acaster
AcasterVaud011118 (45011799794) (cropped).jpg
Acaster performing in November 2018
James William Acaster

(1985-01-09) 9 January 1985 (age 38)
Kettering, England
Occupation(s)Comedian, writer, presenter, musician
Years active2008–present

James William Acaster (/ˈkæstər/; born 9 January 1985) is an English comedian, writer, presenter and musician. As well as appearances on panel shows, he is known for the stand-up specials Repertoire, co-hosting the food podcast Off Menu and co-presenting the panel show Hypothetical. He has won four Chortle Awards.

After attempting to pursue a music career as a drummer, Acaster began performing stand-up comedy in 2008. He drew acclaim for his stand-up shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where he has been nominated for Best Comedy Show five times. Four of his Fringe performances were adapted into the serialised Netflix specials Repertoire: "Recognise", "Represent", "Reset" and "Recap". His more recent special Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 (2019) won a Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award.

As a presenter, Acaster began the food podcast Off Menu with Ed Gamble in 2018, and has co-hosted four series of the Dave panel show Hypothetical from 2019 onwards. He has appeared as a guest on panel shows including Taskmaster, The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, Would I Lie to You?, 8 out of 10 Cats and Mock the Week.

Acaster's radio appearances on Widdicombe's XFM show led to a recurring segment called Classic Scrapes, in which he shared mistakes that got him into unfortunate circumstances. He developed this into a book, James Acaster's Classic Scrapes (2017), which made The Sunday Times Bestseller List. Acaster's second book, Perfect Sound Whatever (2019), also became a Sunday Times Bestseller; it follows Acaster's life in 2017 via reviews of albums that were released in 2016. A tie-in podcast, James Acaster's Perfect Sounds, aired on BBC Sounds. His third book, James Acaster's Guide to Quitting Social Media: Being the Best YOU You Can Be and Saving Yourself from Loneliness: Vol. 1, was released in August 2022, becoming his third Sunday Times Best Seller.[1]

Early life[edit]

James William Acaster[2] was born in Kettering on 9 January 1985.[citation needed] He attended Montagu Secondary School and studied music at Northampton College.[3] He later worked as a teaching assistant in a school for autistic children,[4] using his free time to begin performing stand-up comedy.[5]

Acaster played the drums in various bands around his hometown prior to his comedy career, including The Wow! Scenario and the Capri-Sun Quartet. As a member of the latter, he used the stage name Sir William Strawberry. After The Wow! Scenario broke up, he pursued comedy while "deciding what [he] really wanted to do".[6] The Wow! Scenario recorded an album entitled Stand in the Star: A Verse and a Chorus in 2007, but did not release it; Acaster announced in 2017 that he had reunited with the band to finish the album and that it would be available the following year, but it remains unreleased.[7]


2008–2013: Early career[edit]

Acaster began performing stand-up comedy in 2008.[8] In 2009, he performed in a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with fellow comedians Josh Widdicombe and Nick Helm.[9] In 2010 and 2011 he supported Josie Long[10] and Milton Jones on tour respectively.[11]

In 2011 he also appeared on Russell Howard's Good News Extra and Dave's One Night Stand, and performed his first solo show at the Edinburgh Festival, Amongst Other Things,[12][13] which he toured across the UK the following year. Acaster appeared in Australia Versus, in addition to Chris Addison's E4 programme Show and Tell, and was the co-host of My First Gig on Resonance FM radio.[14]

Acaster's 2012 Edinburgh show was called Prompt. It received a nomination from the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards for the best comedy show at the festival in 2012.[15]

Acaster began appearing on his friend Josh Widdicombe's radio programme on XFM in 2012, initially being asked to share a story about a strange situation he had got himself into in the past. His first story proved popular enough that he was asked to continue sharing a story each week. These stories, dubbed "scrapes" by Josh and later "classic scrapes" by the programme's listeners, became a recurring segment known as 'James Acaster's Classic Scrapes'. Acaster's stories included going line dancing with his brother on Valentine's day, inadvertently scaring the actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in a Chiquito restaurant, and later being tormented by a friend's son in the form of pranks involving cabbage.[citation needed]

Acaster performed Prompt at 14 venues in England and Wales between January and March 2013, after which he appeared at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. He won the New Zealand Comedy Guild's best international act award in December 2013.[16]

Acaster's 2013 Edinburgh show Lawnmower was staged at the Pleasance Courtyard. It was nominated for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award 2013 for the best comedy show. In September 2013, he made his first appearance on the BBC musical comedy panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He completed his UK tour of Lawnmower at a hometown gig in Kettering on 30 November 2013.[citation needed]

Acaster starred in various segments of radio, including the half-hour programme "James Acaster's Findings – Bread"[17] for BBC Radio 4, also featuring Nathaniel Metcalfe and Bryony Hannah. A series of four episodes of "James Acaster's Findings" was recorded in June and July 2014. The first of these episodes was broadcast on 5 November 2014. Acaster also regularly appeared on Josh Widdicombe's XFM radio show, where he was a fan favourite due to a segment involving anecdotes of his known as "classic scrapes" (most of which were subsequently compiled in a book in 2017). His series Sweet Home Ketteringa (2014) follows him on a journey of discovery around his hometown, exploring its history and nascent rivalries with proximal town Corby, sparked by a Primark store opening in the latter town.[18]

2014–2018: Repertoire[edit]

Acaster's 2014 Edinburgh show was called Recognise. The show was previewed in April and May in Australia and New Zealand,[19] where it won the New Zealand International Comedy Festival Award for Best International Show.[20] Recognise was again nominated for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award 2014 for the best comedy show – the third time in a row for Acaster.[21] It was performed at over 30 British venues during autumn 2014, including a two-week run at the Soho Theatre in December due to the success of the October dates at the same venue.

Acaster performing in 2015

Acaster's 2015 Edinburgh show was called Represent, again performed at the Pleasance Courtyard.[22] It earned Acaster his 4th consecutive Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination for Best Show, becoming the second artist to do so after Al Murray. The UK tour of this show ran from October to December 2015, ending at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. Due to the show's success, Acaster took Represent to the Soho Theatre for a week-long run in March 2016.

In 2015 he won the Chortle awards for Best Breakthrough Act and Best Show for Recognise.[23][24]

Acaster's 2016 show was called Reset. It was previewed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and the New Zealand International Comedy Festival in Auckland and Wellington, both in April/May 2016, then at the Udderbelly Festival in June 2016, and finally at The Tringe Festival in Tring in July. Acaster performed this show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2016, where he became the first comedian to receive a fifth nomination for best show at the festival. In June 2016, Acaster appeared as a guest on Russell Howard's Stand Up Central. In July 2016, Acaster performed in the comedy tent at Latitude Festival. In September 2016, he wrote a pilot episode for a new sitcom, We The Jury, which was broadcast by the BBC.[25]

In 2017, Acaster took Recognise, Represent, and Reset to various venues, performing one show each night over three nights as The Trelogy.[26] A further show of previously performed material, Recap, was also developed to tie the shows together thematically. These four shows were filmed in September for a Netflix special.[27] His first book, James Acaster's Classic Scrapes, recounting the stories he told on Josh Widdicombe's XFM radio show and podcast, was published in August, followed by a book-reading tour in autumn 2017.[28] Classic Scrapes appeared on The Sunday Times best-seller list.[29] In November, he turned on the Christmas lights in Kettering.[30]

In March 2018, Acaster released his serialised Netflix stand-up comedy special, Repertoire. It consists of four separate hour-long stand-up comedy performances, all filmed in September 2017: "Recognise", "Represent", "Reset", and "Recap".[31] In July 2018, Acaster performed on the Comedy Stage at the Cornbury Music Festival.[32] In December 2018, he began a weekly podcast with Ed Gamble called Off Menu.[33] In the podcast, Gamble and Acaster invite a special guest to discuss their dream starter, main course, side, dessert and drink.[34]

2019–present: Cold Lasagne and books[edit]

In 2019, Acaster won the Chortle Award for Best Show with Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999.[35][36][37][38][39] Perfect Sound Whatever is Acaster's second book, about an obsessive challenge that he undertook in 2017 to collect as much music released in 2016 as possible.[40] It was published by Headline Publishing Group in August 2019.[41][42] In 2019, Acaster won the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award, making him the first UK comedian to do so in nine years.[43] Acaster's podcast with BBC Sounds, James Acaster's Perfect Sounds, started in April 2020.[44]

Acaster (left) being interviewed by Mike Wozniak in 2022

Acaster, Romesh Ranganathan, and James Corden voiced three mice and appeared as three transformed footmen in the 2021 film Cinderella.[45] In 2022, he published the book James Acaster's Guide to Quitting Social Media: Vol. 1.

His special Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 was released on Vimeo in March 2021.[46] It was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy Special in 2022.[47]

In November 2022, Acaster announced a new musical project called Temps, a music collective of 40 individuals.[48] Members of the collective submit music without being given direction, and Acaster combines the contributions.[49] Acaster formed the group through email communication in the COVID-19 pandemic with musicians he contacted while working on Perfect Sound Whatever.[48][50] He had planned to create a mockumentary with Louis Theroux's production company in which he would transition into the music industry, but this was abandoned when the pandemic began.[49]

Their debut album, "Party Gator Purgatory" is set to be released by Bella Union on May 19, 2023 and explores genres including alt-rock, hip-hop and jazz. Acaster has created its artwork with highlighter pens. The lead single "no,no" was released in November 2022; the music video features Acaster in his "Party Gator" costume, with performing artists on the track including Quelle Chris, Xenia Rubinos, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Shamir, and Seb Rochford.[51][50][52][48][49] The second single, "bleedthemtoxins", was released on 31 January 2023.[49]

Personal life[edit]

He dated English comedian Louise Ford until she left him for Rowan Atkinson in 2013.[53][54] He then dated New Zealand comedian Rose Matafeo from 2014 to 2017.[53][55]

Acaster is an advocate for therapy and counselling and has commented on the importance of talking and reducing the stigma around mental health.[56] [57]

He is a supporter of Kettering Town FC.


Year Title Role Notes
2014 Edinburgh Comedy Fest Live Self Episode 1
2014 Comedy Up Late Self Series 2 Episode 4
2014-2016 Sweet Home Ketteringa Host Documentary Series
2015 Josh Mike Series 1 Episode 4
2015 Drunk History: UK Self Series 1 Episodes 1, 7
2015 Live at the Apollo Self Series 11, Episode 5
2016 We the Jury Creator/Writer Unsold Pilot
2016 Live from the BBC Self Series 1, Episode 3
2016 Stand Up Central Self Series 2 Episode 4
2016–present Sounds Random Host
2018 James Acaster: Repertoire Self Netflix original comedy special
2018 Taskmaster Contestant Series 7
2018 A1: The Long Road to Edinburgh Self Documentary
2019–present Hypothetical Co-Host With Josh Widdicombe
2019 The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C Contestant Series 2
2019 Pointless Celebrities Contestant Series 11
2020–2021 The Big Fat Quiz of the Year Self
2020 The Last Leg of the Year Self
2020 Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 Self Online comedy special
2021 Cinderella John Amazon Prime Original movie
2022 The Island Writer TV series; also executive producer
2023 Seize Them! Felix the Ironmonger Film (in post production)
2023 Untitled Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel Film (in production)


Year Title
2017 James Acaster's Classic Scrapes
2019 Perfect Sound Whatever
2022 James Acaster's Guide to Quitting Social Media: Vol. 1

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Result Ref.
2015 Chortle Awards Breakthrough Act Won [58]
Best Show Won
2016 Chortle Awards Best Show Nominated [59]
2019 Chortle Awards Best Show Won [60]
Comedians' Comedian Won
2021 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Comedy Special Nominated [61]


  1. ^ Acaster, James (18 February 2022). James Acaster's Guide to Quitting Social Media. ISBN 9781472288585.
  2. ^ James Acaster's Classic Scrapes (7 May 2016). James Acaster's band 'The Wow! Scenario' - Live from Edinburgh Fringe – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Turtle Canyon Comedy (12 January 2015). Sweet Home Ketteringa - Episode 4 - Kettering Buccleuch Academy – via YouTube.
  4. ^ "Interview: Comedian James Acaster on being original as possible". 16 August 2016.
  5. ^ Acaster, James (2017). James Acaster's Classic Scrapes. London: Headline. ISBN 9781472247186.
  6. ^ "Interview: James Acaster – The Fix Magazine". Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  7. ^ "The Wow! Scenario Album - James Acaster Official Website". 17 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Comedy CV – the UK's largest collection of comedians biogs and photos". comedycv.co.uk.
  9. ^ "Acaster, Helm and Widdicombe – Live at the Voodoo Bar". list.co.uk.
  10. ^ "Josie Long and James Acaster and The Pictish Trail". 26 August 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Milton Jones: Lion Whisperer, Gala Theatre, Durham". The Advertiser Series.
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "James Acaster". chortle.co.uk.
  14. ^ "The Comedy Crawl | 30th April-1st May 2011". 30 March 2012. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012.
  15. ^ Guide, British Comedy (22 August 2012). "Edinburgh Comedy Award 2012 nominations". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  16. ^ Baker, Matt. "REVIEW: Reset: James Acaster (NZ International Comedy Festival)". Theatre Scenes: Aotearoa New Zealand Theatre. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  17. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – James Acaster's Findings, Pilot Episode: Bread". BBC.
  18. ^ Logan, Brian (17 September 2014). "James Acaster: Kettering confidential". The Observer. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  19. ^ "JAMES ACASTER ... Recognise! (England) - Comedy.co.nz - The home of live NZ comedy. Comedians, News, Reviews, Video, Venues. The Classic Comedy Bar and Classic Studio". 13 March 2014. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  20. ^ "Comedy festival award winners". The New Zealand Herald.
  21. ^ Brian Logan (23 August 2014). "John Kearns wins the Foster's Edinburgh comedy award 2014". The Guardian.
  22. ^ "James Acaster – Represent – Pleasance". The Pleasance. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Chortle Awards". Chortle. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  24. ^ Guide, British Comedy (17 March 2015). "Chortle Awards 2015 winners revealed". British Comedy Guide.
  25. ^ "BBC - We The Jury - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk.
  26. ^ Guide, British Comedy (16 November 2016). "James Acaster 2017 tour: The Trelogy - British Comedy Guide". British Comedy Guide.
  27. ^ Acaster, James (19 May 2017). "Repertoire". James Acaster Official Website. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  28. ^ Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "James Acaster's Classic Scrapes : Book reviews 2017 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  29. ^ "Books: The Sunday Times Bestsellers, September 3". The Sunday Times. 3 September 2017.
  30. ^ Wilding, Bianca. "Kettering born TV comedian James Acaster to switch on town's Christmas lights". www.kettering.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 18 July 2018.
  31. ^ Hogan, Michael (1 July 2018). "James Acaster: 'Brexiteers get amazingly angry about my tea joke'". The Guardian.
  32. ^ "News: Cornbury Festival Announces Comedy Line-Up". Beyond The Joke. 11 June 2018.
  33. ^ "Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster on acast". acast.
  34. ^ "Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster podcast review". Evening Standard. 25 January 2019.
  35. ^ Bennett, Steve. "Who won the 2019 Chortle Awards : News 2019 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  36. ^ Cox, Will (21 April 2019). "Britain's James Acaster wins renamed top award at 2019 Melbourne comedy festival". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  37. ^ Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "Who have the Edinburgh Comedy Awards panel overlooked, up to now? : Features 2018 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  38. ^ Logan, Brian (31 October 2018). "James Acaster review – a comedy genius at the peak of his powers". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  39. ^ Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "Who won the 2019 Chortle Awards : Features 2019 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  40. ^ "Perfect Sound Whatever, by James Acaster : Book reviews 2019 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  41. ^ Chandler, Mark (22 February 2019). "Comedian James Acaster's second book goes to Headline". The Bookseller. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  42. ^ "James Acaster to publish book about obsessive music challenge". British Comedy Guide. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  43. ^ Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "James Acaster wins Melbourne festival award : News 2019 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  44. ^ Bennett, Steve. "New BBC podcast for James Acaster : News 2020 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  45. ^ Renae, Kirstie (30 June 2021). "From Camila Cabello to Billy Porter, here's the cast of the new 'Cinderella' remake, so far". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  46. ^ Palmieri, Lea (10 March 2021). "'James Acaster: Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999'". Decider. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  47. ^ "Television Nominations Announced for the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards". 6 December 2021. Retrieved 4 August 2022.
  48. ^ a b c Kenneally, Cerys (4 November 2022). "James Acaster's new music collective Temps unveil debut single 'no,no' featuring Quelle Chris, Xenia Rubinos, Shamir, NNAMDÏ and Seb Rochford". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  49. ^ a b c d "James Acaster's band to release their first album". Chortle. 1 February 2023. Retrieved 1 February 2023.
  50. ^ a b Shutler, Ali (6 November 2022). "James Acaster announces new musical project Temps, calls it a 'DIY Gorillaz'". NME. Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  51. ^ Cochrane, Kez (4 November 2022). "James Acaster reveals new music project Temps featuring Xenia Rubinos, Quelle Chris and NNAMDÏ". Crack.
  52. ^ Richardson, Jay (31 October 2022). "James Acaster releases music single 'no, no'". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  53. ^ a b "Rose Matefeo's ex boyfriend opens up about being dumped for Mr Bean". stuff.co.nz. 5 March 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
  54. ^ "Mr Bean leaves wife of 24 years for younger woman". 11 November 2015.
  55. ^ "Spy: Rose Matafeo leaving NZ to join British boyfriend".
  56. ^ "BBC Sounds - James Acaster's Perfect Sounds - James Acaster and the Healing Powers of Music for Mental Health". BBC. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  57. ^ "James Acaster talking about mental health on TalkSport went viral and it's 3 minutes very well spent". 3 February 2022.
  58. ^ "Chortle awards 2015: Watch the highlights". Chortle. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  59. ^ "Chortle Award 2016 winners named". Chortle. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  60. ^ "Who won the 2019 Chortle Awards". Chortle. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  61. ^ "Television Nominations Announced for the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards". Critics Choice Association. Retrieved 14 December 2021.

External links[edit]