James Acaster

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James Acaster
AcasterVaud011118 (45011799794) (cropped).jpg
Acaster in 2018
Birth nameJames William Acaster
Born (1985-01-09) 9 January 1985 (age 35)
Kettering, Northamptonshire, England
Alma materNorthampton College
Years active2008–present[1]

James William Acaster[2] (/ˈkæstər/; born 9 January 1985) is an English comedian originally from Kettering, Northamptonshire.

He has performed for several consecutive years at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has been nominated for Best Show five times.[3] He won the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award for Most Outstanding Show in 2019 with Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999,[4][5] and has won four Chortle awards.[6][7]

Acaster has appeared on several panel shows, including Mock the Week, Taskmaster, 8 out of 10 Cats, and Would I Lie to You?. He has a 2018 Netflix show titled Repertoire, consisting of four hour-long stand-up comedy performances.[8] He has also written two books, James Acaster's Classic Scrapes, consisting of true stories, most of which were originally told on Josh Widdicombe's show on XFM, and Perfect Sound Whatever, consisting of album reviews from the year 2016.[9][10] He currently hosts panel show Hypothetical alongside Widdicombe, food podcast Off Menu with fellow comedian Ed Gamble and music podcast James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds from the BBC.

Early life[edit]

Acaster was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire. He attended Montagu Secondary School in Kettering, and went on to study music at Northampton College.[11] During this time, he also sporadically worked at a drinks stand at Wicksteed Park igniting a longstanding fascination with industrial catering equipment.[12]

Musical career[edit]

Acaster previously played drums in local bands in Northamptonshire including Pindrop, Three Line Whip, The New Hardcore Skiffle Movement, The Capri-Sun Quartet, and The Wow! Scenario.[13] When Acaster was a member of the Capri-Sun Quartet, he was known as Sir William Strawberry. After The Wow! Scenario broke up, he "decided to do comedy before deciding what he really wanted to do".[14] The Wow! Scenario recorded an album entitled Stand in the Star: A Verse and a Chorus in 2007, which was never released. Acaster announced in 2017 that he had reunited with The Wow! Scenario to finish recording Stand in the Star, and that it would be available in 2018. However, developments are still awaited on this project.[15]

Comedy career[edit]


In 2009, Acaster performed in a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with fellow comedians Josh Widdicombe and Nick Helm.[16] In 2010, he supported Josie Long on tour,[17] and, in 2011, he supported Milton Jones on tour.[18]

He appeared on Russell Howard's Good News Extra,[19] and was the internet act in the TV channel Dave's One Night Stand from Bristol.[20] In 2011, he had his first solo show at the Edinburgh Festival, Amongst Other Things.[21][22] Acaster appeared in Australia Versus and was co-host in My First Gig on Resonance FM radio.[23] He appeared in Chris Addison's E4 programme Show and Tell in autumn 2011.

In spring 2012, he performed Amongst Other Things as solo shows in various venues in the UK. Acaster's 2012 Edinburgh show was called Prompt. It began its run to positive reviews and enthusiastic audience response. It received a nomination from the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards for best comedy show at the festival in 2012.

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'd 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 listeners of the programme, became a recurring segment, known as "James Acaster's Classic Scrapes". Acaster's stories included being "cabbadged" [sic] repeatedly by his friend's son.


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.

Acaster's 2013 Edinburgh show Lawnmower was staged at the Pleasance Courtyard. It was nominated for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award 2013 for 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.

Acaster starred in various segments of radio, including the half-hour programme "James Acaster's Findings – Bread"[24] 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 being broadcast on 5 November 2014. Acaster also regularly appeared on Josh Widdicombe's XFM radio show, where he had a keen following for his "classic scrapes" (subsequently published as a book in 2017). His series Sweet Home Ketteringa (2014) follows him on a journey of discovery around his home town exploring its history and nascent rivalries with proximal town Corby which was sparked by a Primark store opening in the latter town.[25]

Acaster's 2014 Edinburgh show was called Recognise. The show was previewed in April and May in Australia and New Zealand,[26] where it won the New Zealand International Comedy Festival Award for Best International Show.[27] Recognise was again nominated for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award 2014 for best comedy show – third in a row for Acaster.[28] 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's 2015 Edinburgh show was called Represent, again performed at the Pleasance Courtyard.[29] 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.[30]


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.[31]

In 2017 Acaster took Recognise, Represent, and Reset to various venues, performing one show each night over three nights as The Trelogy.[32] 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.[33] 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. Classic Scrapes appeared on The Sunday Times best-seller list.[34] In November, he turned on the Christmas lights in Kettering.[35]

In March 2018, Netflix released James Acaster: Repertoire, consisting of the four one-hour shows filmed in September 2017. The initial response to Repertoire was very positive, with a rating of 8.3 on IMDB.[36] In July 2018, Acaster performed at Cornbury Musical Festival on the Comedy Stage.[37] Acaster currently presents a weekly podcast series with Ed Gamble called Off Menu.[38][39] In 2019, Acaster won the Chortle Award for Best Show with Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999.[40] 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. 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]


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Russell Howard's Good News Self Series 4 Episode 5
2011 Show and Tell Self Series 1 Episode 7, Series 1 Episode 8
2013–2014 Never Mind the Buzzcocks Self Series 27 Episode 1, Series 28 Episode 4
2013–2014 Sweat the Small Stuff Self Series 1 Episode 8, Series 2 Episode 5, Series 4 Episode 5
2014 Spicks and Specks Self Series 8 Episode 15
2014 Edinburgh Comedy Fest Live Self 2014, Episode 1
2014 Big Brother's Bit on the Side Self 26 June 2014
2014 Comedy Up Late Self Series 2 Episode 4
2014 Virtually Famous Self Series 1 Episodes 3, 6
2014 Sweet Home Ketteringa Self (Host) Documentary Series
2014, 2017 Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast Self Leicester Square Episodes 49, 208; Edinburgh Fringe Episode 77
2014–2017 8 Out of 10 Cats Self Series 17 Episode 5, Series 18 Episode 5, Series 19 Episode 6, Series 20 Episode 10
2014–present Mock the Week Self Series 13 Episode 10; Series 14 Episodes 1, 3, 9, 10; Series 15 Episodes 2, 5, 9, 11; Series 16 Episodes 1, 2, 8, 9, 10; Series 17 Episodes 1, 3, 5
2015 Josh Mike Series 1 Episode 4
2015 Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled Self Series 2 Episode 5
2015 Community Kitchen Self Series 3 Episodes 4, 5
2015 Drunk History: UK Self Series 1 Episodes 1, 7
2015 The John Bishop Show Self Episode 1
2015 Live at the Apollo Self Series 11, Episode 5
2015–2018 Have I Got News For You Self Series 49 Episode 9, Series 55 Episode 4
2016 Room 101 Self Series 16 Episode 4
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 7 Days Self Series 8 Episode 13
2016 Sunday Brunch Self Series 5 Episode 15
2016 Sweet Home Lahnsteineringa Self (Host) Documentary Series (Season 2 of Sweet Home Ketteringa)
2016–present Sounds Random Self (Host)
2017 The Last Leg Self Series 12 Episode 4
2017 Romesh: Talking to Comedians Self Series 2 Episode 6 Hosted by Romesh Ranganathan
2017 We Have Been Watching Self
2017–2018 Insert Name Here Self Series 2 Episode 5, Series 3 Episode 3, Series 4 Episode 1
2017–2018 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Self Series 12 Episode 7 (Jon's Team); Series 17 Christmas Special (Dictionary Corner)
2017–2020 Would I Lie to You? Self Series 11 Episode 3, Series 12 Episode 7, Series 13 Episode 10
2018 The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice Self Series 5 Episode 7
2018 James Acaster: Repertoire Self A Netflix original comedy special - Recognise, Represent, Reset, Recap
2018 Richard Osman's House of Games Self Series 2 Week 8
2018 Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier Self Episode 6
2018 Taskmaster Self Series 7
2018 A1: The Long Road to Edinburgh Self Documentary
2018 Innuendo Bingo Self With Josh Widdicombe
2019 Pointless Celebrities Self Series 11 (Comedians Episode)
2019–present Hypothetical Self Co-Host with Josh Widdicombe
2019 The Jonathan Ross Show Self Guest
2019 The Great Stand Up to Cancer Bake Off Self Series 2 Contestant
2019 Who Said That? Self Episode 7[45]


Year Title
2017 James Acaster's Classic Scrapes
2019 Perfect Sound Whatever


  1. ^ "Comedy CV – the UK's largest collection of comedians biogs and photos". comedycv.co.uk.
  2. ^ James Acaster's Classic Scrapes (7 May 2016). "James Acaster's band 'The Wow! Scenario' - Live from Edinburgh Fringe" – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Logan, Brian (31 October 2018). "James Acaster review – a comedy genius at the peak of his powers". Retrieved 20 June 2020 – via www.theguardian.com.
  4. ^ Cox, Will (21 April 2019). "Britain's James Acaster wins renamed top award at 2019 Melbourne comedy festival". Retrieved 20 June 2020 – via www.theguardian.com.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Guide, British Comedy (17 March 2015). "Chortle Awards 2015 winners revealed". British Comedy Guide.
  7. ^ Bennett, Steve. "Who won the 2019 Chortle Awards : News 2019 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  8. ^ Hogan, Michael (1 July 2018). "James Acaster: 'Brexiteers get amazingly angry about my tea joke'" – via www.theguardian.com.
  9. ^ "Perfect Sound Whatever, by James Acaster : Book reviews 2019 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  10. ^ Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "James Acaster's Classic Scrapes : Book reviews 2017 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk.
  11. ^ Turtle Canyon Comedy (12 January 2015). "Sweet Home Ketteringa - Episode 4 - Kettering Buccleuch Academy" – via YouTube.
  12. ^ RHLSTP (24 April 2019). "Episode 208: James Acaster - Sir William Strawberry". Richard Herring – via RHLSTP.
  13. ^ "The Wow! Scenario Content on Myspace". Myspace.[non-primary source needed]
  14. ^ "Interview: James Acaster – The Fix Magazine". Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  15. ^ "The Wow! Scenario Album - James Acaster Official Website". 17 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Acaster, Helm and Widdicombe – Live at the Voodoo Bar". list.co.uk.
  17. ^ "Josie Long and James Acaster and The Pictish Trail". 26 August 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Milton Jones: Lion Whisperer, Gala Theatre, Durham". The Advertiser Series.
  19. ^ James Acaster on Russell Howard's Good News on YouTube
  20. ^ "H". uktv.co.uk.
  21. ^ Powder Blue Internet Business Solutions. "James Acaster". chortle.co.uk.
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ "The Comedy Crawl | 30th April-1st May 2011". 30 March 2012. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012.
  24. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – James Acaster's Findings, Pilot Episode: Bread". BBC.
  25. ^ Logan, Brian (17 September 2014). "James Acaster: Kettering confidential". The Observer. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ "Comedy festival award winners". The New Zealand Herald.
  28. ^ Brian Logan (23 August 2014). "John Kearns wins the Foster's Edinburgh comedy award 2014". The Guardian.
  29. ^ "James Acaster – Represent – Pleasance". The Pleasance. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  30. ^ "Chortle Awards". Chortle. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  31. ^ "BBC - We The Jury - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk.
  32. ^ Guide, British Comedy (16 November 2016). "James Acaster 2017 tour: The Trelogy - British Comedy Guide".
  33. ^ Acaster, James (19 May 2017). "Repertoire". James Acaster Official Website. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  34. ^ Times, The Sunday (3 September 2017). "Books: The Sunday Times Bestsellers, September 3" – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  35. ^ Wilding, Bianca. "Kettering born TV comedian James Acaster to switch on town's Christmas lights". www.kettering.gov.uk.
  36. ^ "James Acaster: Repertoire" – via www.imdb.com.
  37. ^ "News: Cornbury Festival Announces Comedy Line-Up". Beyond The Joke. 11 June 2018.
  38. ^ "Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster on acast". acast.
  39. ^ "Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster podcast review". Evening Standard. 25 January 2019.
  40. ^ Solutions, Powder Blue Internet Business. "Who won the 2019 Chortle Awards : Features 2019 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". www.chortle.co.uk.
  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.
  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. ^ Dessau, Brian (19 May 2020). "News: James Acaster, Fin Taylor, Jen Brister And Esyllt Sears Guest In Latest Mark Olver Podcast Panel Show Who Said That?". Beyond the Joke. Retrieved 5 July 2020.

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