I had never heard of James Acaster before, but in December of 2019 I was using my two weeks off work for the holidays to, among other things, binge watch Would I Lie to You? on YouTube and I saw one of his appearances on the show. If you aren’t familiar with the show, it is a panel show comprised of two teams of three. The teams take turns telling stories where two members are lying and one is telling the truth. The other team has to correctly guess who is telling the truth. There is a great many strategies employed from telling lies that seem very much believable to telling true stories in a way that seems beyond belief. In this episode, the team James Acaster was on had to explain how they knew a young man. Gabby Logan explained she had tripped him during a wheelbarrow race. Lee Mack said he accidentally brought him home from preschool instead of his own son. And James Acaster explained how he had engaged the boy in a year-long cabbage prank. Acaster has a knack for underplaying the absurdity of his stories in a droll way that I immediately was drawn to; it is definitely my kind of sense of humor. I won’t give away anything else, but it is worth a watch.
Over the last week, I’ve seen multiple recommendations to see two of his shows. One was recently released as an on-demand video on Vimeo called Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, which was recorded from a live show in January, 2019. The other is a four-part standup special on Netflix called Repertoire, which Netflix criminally under-promoted considering I had never heard of it before now and it was released way back in 2018.
Of the two, Repertoire, is my favorite because of its pacing and format, the topics he covers, and his ability to circle back to references he made much earlier in the show that always seemed to delight me. I can think of one instance where he made a callback and seemingly got a minor detail wrong, only to soon point out that he had done no such thing with a wink and a nod to those of us who had been paying attention. I like that kind of thing. Maybe you do too. Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 seems to be a show willing to take more of a risk. While it discusses many of the same themes such as politics, mental health, relationships, and toxic masculinity, it pushes us to think about what we do and do not find uncomfortable and embarrassing to talk about and why that is. Honestly, I’m still processing it and while I enjoyed Repertoire more, I think Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 is the better show. Also, if you are familiar with the meme about James Acaster from his appearance on the The Great British Bake Off where he says “Started making it, had a breakdown, Bon appetit!”, then Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 will likely forever change how you look at that meme.
Anyway, give them a watch.
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