James Acaster – Live Review – York Grand Opera House
James Acaster: Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999
York Grand Opera House, May 2019
by Kirsty Reid
A decade in the game and James Acaster has become a household name. Well, in all households except my own that is. The five-times Edinburgh Comedy award nominee has appeared on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo and even has four Netflix specials – clearly I’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years.
Fortunately, my love of The Great British Bake Off led me to discover the comic genius that is James Acaster. Earlier this year he took part in the Stand Up to Cancer celebrity series and was quickly dubbed ‘the best worst contestant’ – an experience he pokes fun at in his seventh solo show, ‘Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999’.
The show’s quirky title is inspired by Acaster’s love of cold lasagne, a taste which he acquired after one too many drinks. While 1999 was, according to James, the best year of his life. Though the show contains no mention of lasagne, cold or otherwise, it does feature plenty about hating himself.
“Laying himself bare”
Strutting out on stage in a multicoloured jacket and Aviators, the Kettering comic launches into a rant about Brexit. Effing and jeffing in a bid to ditch the “oldies and the Crissos” (Christians) he justifies a second referendum by comparing Brexit to dinner in a nightmare restaurant. Ultimately, though, ‘Cold Lasagne’ is a show about personal trauma and mental health.
“There’s a meme about me in America,” he tells us of his recent Bake Off breakdown.
After presenting his Bakewell flapjack (which was really just porridge) to the judges, Acaster declared he “started making it, had a breakdown, bon appétit.” He later reveals how the evening ended with a phone call to the Samaritans. He had to tell a few white lies, of course – complaining about his inability to make flapjack would have surely sounded like a wind-up.
Laying himself bare, the drummer-turned-comedian opens up about 2017 – the worst year of his life. From therapy sessions to a rather embarrassing situation in a steakhouse, the 34-year-old may have had some bleak experiences. But he doesn’t want pity. He wants laughs. And he gets barrels of them.
After getting loose-lipped on Sunday Brunch, Acaster reveals how he was dropped by his agent. Openly admitting there are two sides to every story, he decides to tell the tale from his agent’s point of view. A genius move.
In a bleaker tale, he tells how his girlfriend dumped him for a fellow comedian. One he even idolised. “I’m the only person this has ever happened to,” he mopes. Not wanting to look bitter (or spoil the surprise for future crowds), he begs the audience not to reveal the celebrity online.
Despite his bleak experiences, Acaster is doing pretty well for himself – with sold out dates across the UK. “I’m a white, straight, Cris, able-bodied male. Even in the worst year of my life, I’m still getting four Netflix specials,” he says.