26 March 2019: My friend tells me that James Acaster is performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Prior to this, the only Brit I knew who was performing was Joe Lycett because that was the only advertising we’d seen. It’s 11.30pm AEST. Ecstatic, I’m like ‘let’s get tickets’. My friend tells me all the shows are sold out. Not a single ticket left. I double check. I triple check. I spend the night checking. We are both very upset. My friend Instagrammed his sadness.
27 March 2019: I come back from uni and decide to check again to see if there’s tickets. 12 April 8.45pm AEST tickets are available. It’s a miracle. Now, I hate booking fees. I’ll either purchase tickets for a group of us so we can split the fee or I’ll go to the box office. But there was no way I was going to take a risk here. I immediately bought a ticket. 1.27pm AEST. I informed my friend. I was declared a legend. My friend Instagrammed his emotional roller coaster of a 24 hours.
12 APRIL 2019
My seat was B12 so I walked right next to the stage and there was someone sitting on a stool on the stage. I genuinely think I stopped dead in my tracks because A) I wasn’t expecting anyone on the stage prior to the performance and B) was that actually James Acaster? because it didn’t look like him.
The five-time Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee James Acaster that I’m used to seeing on Facebook and TV is one with his fringe just above his eyes and one who wears shirts. Not one with his hair styled up, wearing cool aviator sunglasses, and a bomber jacket. So, it’s pretty understandable then when I was expecting this:
but saw this:
that I ended up doing a double take and questioning whether he was James Acaster or not.
Turns out it was definitely Acaster.
Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 is a personal and revealing account of the worst and best times of his life. His polished, brilliant, and genius storytelling has won him critical acclaim with him now being crowned Most Outstanding Show at the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival winner.
Acaster’s soundtrack for the show was Paul William’s Euroleague which was the perfect song in that it captured the entire show in that single song.
— Memoonah (@MemoonahH) 12 April 2019
In a brilliant start, James announced he has now abandoned his self-imposed ban on swearing before taking us on a journey of the highs and lows he’s had. Although it has been widely reported in the media and I knew about it prior to this show back in 2018, out of respect I won’t mention a significant chunk of the show.
In 2017, his relationship ended, his agent dropped him, things with his therapist didn’t go well, and he had a rather unfortunately incident at a steak house. And that’s the year he had four Netflix specials commissioned. Making a satirical comment about privilege, James did say something along the line of: “I’m a white, middle-class male. Of course I’m going to have four Netflix specials even if the worst year of my life”. I won’t lie. It was probably nerves more than anything else which stopped me from shouting: “But you still couldn’t afford an iron”; his trousers needed ironing.
As written in beat: “Cold Lasagne affirms Acaster’s intuitive flair for presentation. His routines tend to be so expertly composed that you can’t tell whether certain moments are impromptu outbursts or deliberate narrative disruptions”. The show was a masterclass in storytelling.
He’s ability to be frank and admit the toll 2017 took on him mentally and emotionally and say the words “I was depressed and suicidal” were not an attempt to gain sympathy. He even said at the beginning of the show that he didn’t want any “Awwws” from the audience. But they were a frank and honest reflection of his life in 2017 and told hilariously to incite laughter. He was sophisticatingly self-deprecating. He wanted us to laugh.
The case of his agent dropping him is told in an unexpected way. He tells us the story from his former agent’s perspective but clearly colours it with his own feelings. As this segment concerned gaslighting, to do it in this matter was beautiful because it clearly showed the complexity of emotions, empathy, and forgiveness. Although there were plenty of gags, it gave the audience that extra emotional punch.
Reminding us that we are all human and imperfect, James did laugh at himself/ the audience at one point. He had his finger above his head pointed down at his head and the mic near his month and moved them up and down. The audience was quiet. But James began to laugh. He questioned why we thought that the movement he was making seemed normal. Personally, I didn’t find it weird even when he pointed it out, although I think a lot of the audience did after James said it was. For me it was hilarious because he found it funny and he struggled to move on from it. But it was this moment which really captured James for the person he is. It was unscripted, it was pure.
The show was incredibly funny. I’ve watched him perform stand-up and jokes online and on TV for years but watching him live was something else. I loved the show and it was hilarious. For those who haven’t bought tickets to watch him yet, I strongly advise you do if they haven’t already sold out.