Thursday night saw Artrix Arts in Bromsgrove welcome James Acaster and Jack Barry to the stage. It was a pleasure to see Jack, a comedian I was previously unaware of, supporting James on his tour, with relevant and relatable material that had a subtle hint of madness that could be detected only in his straight-faced delivery of subjects involving suicide and, strangely enough, super powers.
Despite a frosty start for Acaster, as a result of an adamant audience member on the front row refusing to move his drink off the stage (which I’m surprised isn’t picked up on more often by comics due to it’s disregard of any form of ‘fourth wall’ or downright respect for the performance), he comfortably dived straight into the confusing world of loopholes, demonstrating wonderfully complex and creative thinking from the outset.
This peculiar comedian has a remarkable ability to weave together the most absurd stories, such as his adventures as an undercover cop, through his use of well thought-out call backs, but was also able to fall back on instinct as a result of the audience not being very enthusiastic at all, which was certainly observed by James, to say the least. As a result of being a member of a disappointingly unsupportive, bordering on selfish, audience, the show took on a very different feel to what it would normally, with a great deal of tension (that ended up working in Acaster’s favour as he expertly turned the gig around).
Hidden within the whimsical story-telling, James is clearly an excellent observational comic as well, in a way similar to that of Noel Fielding. It has been said, and I too believe to be true, that Fielding would make an outstanding observational comedian due to his compelling way of noticing and conveying minor details within people and situations alike. The cleverest part, regarding both Fielding and Acaster, however, is that they don’t rely on their observational skills alone. These two comics evidently work very hard at developing a multi-layered aspect to their routines, and that is something to be appreciated and congratulated.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing both Jack Barry and James Acaster perform their routines and look forward to seeing them again in the future, maybe with a more encouraging audience that can give this excellent comedy the platform it deserves.