James Acaster

James William Acaster (/ˈeɪkæstə/; 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 won two Chortle awards in 2015. He has been nominated for Best Show five times at the Edinburgh Fringe. Acaster has appeared on several panel shows, including Mock the Week, and has a 2018 Netflix show entitled Repertoire, consisting of four hour-long stand-up comedy performances. He has also written a book, James Acaster's Classic Scrapes, consisting of true stories, most of which were originally told on the Josh Widdicombe show on XFM.



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James Acaster
Birth nameJames William Acaster
Born (1985-01-09) 9 January 1985 (age 34)
Kettering, England
Alma materNorthampton College
Years active2008–present[1]

James William Acaster[2] (/ˈkæstə/; 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 won two Chortle awards in 2015.[3] He has been nominated for Best Show five times at the Edinburgh Fringe.[4] Acaster has appeared on several panel shows, including Mock the Week, and has a 2018 Netflix show entitled Repertoire, consisting of four hour-long stand-up comedy performances.[5] He has also written a book, James Acaster's Classic Scrapes, consisting of true stories, most of which were originally told on the Josh Widdicombe show on XFM.[6]

Early life

Acaster was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire. He attended Montagu Secondary School in Kettering and went on to study music at Northampton College.[7]

Musical career

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.[8] When Acaster was a member of the Capri-Sun Quartet he was known as William Strawberry. After The Wow! Scenario broke up, he "decided to do comedy before deciding what he really wanted to do".[9] 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, which will be available on Bandcamp in 2018.[10]

Comedy career


In 2009 Acaster performed in a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with fellow comedians Josh Widdicombe and Nick Helm.[11] In 2010 he supported Josie Long on tour,[12] and in 2011 he supported Milton Jones on tour.[13]

He appeared on Russell Howard's Good News Extra[14] and was the internet act in Dave's One Night Stand from Bristol.[15] In 2011 he had his first solo show at the Edinburgh Festival, Amongst Other Things.[16][17] Acaster appeared in Australia Versus and was co-host in My First Gig on Resonance FM radio.[18] 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 program 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 "cabadged" [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 Auckland Comedy Festival in New Zealand. 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"[19] 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 was 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).

Acaster's 2014 Edinburgh show was called Recognise. The show was previewed in April and May in Australia and New Zealand,[20] where it won the New Zealand International Comedy Festival Award for Best International Show.[21] Recognise was again nominated for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award 2014 for best comedy show – third in a row for Acaster.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]


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 of a new sitcom, We The Jury, which was broadcast by the BBC.[25]

In 2017 Acaster took Recognise, Represent and Reset to various venues, performing one show each night over three nights as The Trelogy.[26] 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.[27]

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.[28]

In November he turned on the Christmas lights in Kettering.[29]

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.[30]

In July 2018, Acaster performed at Cornbury Musical Festival on the Comedy Stage.[31]

Acaster currently presents a weekly podcast series with Ed Gamble called Off Menu.[32][33]

In 2019 Acaster won the Chortle Award for Best Show with Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999[34].


2011Russell Howard's Good NewsSelfSeries 4 Episode 5
2011Show and TellSelfSeries 1 Episode 7, Series 1 Episode 8
2013–2014Never Mind the BuzzcocksSelfSeries 27 Episode 1, Series 28 Episode 4
2013–2014Sweat the Small StuffSelfSeries 1 Episode 8, Series 2 Episode 5, Series 4 Episode 5
2014Spicks and SpecksSelfSeries 8 Episode 15
2014Edinburgh Comedy Fest LiveSelf2014, Episode 1
2014Big Brother's Bit on the SideSelf26 June 2014
2014Comedy Up LateSelfSeries 2 Episode 4
2014Virtually FamousSelfSeries 1 Episodes 3, 6
2014Sweet Home KetteringaSelf (Host)Documentary Series
2014, 2017Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre PodcastSelfLeicester Square Episode 49, Edinburgh Fringe Episode 77
2014–20178 Out of 10 CatsSelfSeries 17 Episode 5, Series 18 Episode 5, Series 19 Episode 6, Series 20 Episode 10
2014–presentMock the WeekSelfSeries 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
2015JoshMikeSeries 1 Episode 4
2015Alan Davies: As Yet UntitledSelfSeries 2 Episode 5
2015Community KitchenSelfSeries 3 Episodes 4, 5
2015Drunk History: UKSelfSeries 1 Episodes 1, 7
2015The John Bishop ShowSelfEpisode 1
2015Live at the ApolloSelfSeries 11, Episode 5
2015–2018Have I Got News For YouSelfSeries 49 Episode 9, Series 55 Episode 4
2016Room 101SelfSeries 16 Episode 4
2016We the JuryCreator/WriterUnsold Pilot
2016Live from the BBCSelfSeries 1, Episode 3
2016Stand Up CentralSelfSeries 2 Episode 4
20167 DaysSelfSeries 8 Episode 13
2016Sunday BrunchSelfSeries 5 Episode 15
2016Sweet Home LahnsteineringaSelf (Host)Documentary Series (Season 2 of Sweet Home Ketteringa)
2016–presentSounds RandomSelf (Host)
2017The Last LegSelfSeries 12 Episode 4
2017Romesh: Talking to ComediansSelfSeries 2 Episode 6 Hosted by Romesh Ranganathan
2017We Have Been WatchingSelf
2017–2018Insert Name HereSelfSeries 2 Episode 5, Series 3 Episode 3, Series 4 Episode 1
2017–20188 Out of 10 Cats Does CountdownSelfSeries 12 Episode 7 (Jon's Team); Series 17 Christmas Special (Dictionary Corner)
2017–2018Would I Lie to You?SelfSeries 11 Episode 3, Series 12 Episode 7
2018The Great British Bake Off: An Extra SliceSelfSeries 5 Episode 7
2018James Acaster: RepertoireSelfNetflix Original
2018Richard Osman's House of GamesSelfSeries 2 Week 8
2018Jon Richardson: Ultimate WorrierSelfEpisode 6
2018TaskmasterSelfSeries 7
2018A1: The Long Road to EdinburghSelfDocumentary
2018Innuendo BingoSelfWith Josh Widdicombe
2019Pointless CelebritiesSelfSeries 11 (Comedians Episode)
2019HypotheticalSelfCo-Host with Josh Widdicombe
2019The Jonathan Ross ShowSelfGuest


  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. Chortle - The Chortle Awards 2015 Results
  4. Chortle - Who Have the Edinburgh Comedy Awards Panel Overlooked, up to Now?
  5. The Guardian - Stage
  6. Chortle - James Acaster's Classic Scrapes
  7. Turtle Canyon Comedy (12 January 2015). "Sweet Home Ketteringa - Episode 4 - Kettering Buccleuch Academy" via YouTube.
  8. "The Wow! Scenario Content on Myspace". Myspace.[non-primary source needed]
  9. The Fix Magazine - James Acaster Interview
  10. "The Wow! Scenario Album - James Acaster Official Website". 17 May 2017.
  11. "Acaster, Helm and Widdicombe – Live at the Voodoo Bar". list.co.uk.
  12. "Josie Long and James Acaster and The Pictish Trail". 2010-08-26. Retrieved 2018-04-07.
  13. "Milton Jones: Lion Whisperer, Gala Theatre, Durham". The Advertiser Series.
  14. James Acaster on Russell Howard's Good News on YouTube
  15. "H". uktv.co.uk.
  16. Powder Blue Internet Business Solutions. "James Acaster". chortle.co.uk.
  17. [dead link]
  18. "BBC Radio 4 – James Acaster's Findings, Pilot Episode: Bread". BBC.
  19. "Comedy festival award winners". The New Zealand Herald.
  20. Brian Logan (23 August 2014). "John Kearns wins the Foster's Edinburgh comedy award 2014". The Guardian.
  21. "James Acaster – Represent – Pleasance". The Pleasance. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  22. "Chortle Awards". Chortle. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  23. "BBC - We The Jury - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk.
  24. Guide, British Comedy (16 November 2016). "James Acaster 2017 tour: The Trelogy - British Comedy Guide".
  25. Acaster, James (2017-05-19). "Repertoire". James Acaster Official Website. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  26. Times, The Sunday (3 September 2017). "Books: The Sunday Times Bestsellers, September 3" via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  27. Wilding, Bianca. "Kettering born TV comedian James Acaster to switch on town's Christmas lights". www.kettering.gov.uk.
  28. "James Acaster: Repertoire" via www.imdb.com.
  29. "News: Cornbury Festival Announces Comedy Line-Up". Beyond The Joke. 11 June 2018.
  30. Acast
  31. Evening Standard - Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster podcast review: food for thought
  32. Who Won the Chortle Awards?
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