I like the North but I do find the term festival is used quite lazily up here. A few months ago I went to a food festival near Sunderland that sold itself on being the biggest food festival in the North East and when I turned up it was like 6 stands and a hot dog van. I find that again the term has been used lightly in the term of the South Tyneside comedy festival. Now maybe I should give them a bit of slack as it is the first year of the festival happening and they have managed to get big comedy names such as Nish Kumar, Sarah Millican, Joel Domett etc.
The one thing I notice though compared to other festivals is that the talent in the area is classed as the big events the mainstream comedy acts that are huge on a national level are sort of pushed aside a bit in publicity – apart from Sara Millican or Chris Ramsey as they are from the area. I have never been to a festival where the big acts are the smallest pictures on the posters.
To be fair not the weirdest situation when it comes to seeing James live – the last time he was headline act and ended up first on – read more about that here.…
The venue itself the Customs House is quite an interesting building. The outside is really pretty quaint little thing and the inside is ok but the area around it is not the greatest. It’s currently undergoing a revamp the area so it’s got a lot of buildings shut and it’s pretty much a lone in the wilderness apart from a few bars and a big BT building. For a comedy festival I always imagine it to be an area that bursting with energy not a part of town that’s sort of dead, it loses the atmosphere.
I walk in the door and receive my ticket where one of the big acts of mainstream comedy, James Acaster name has been spelt wrong on my ticket and had been written as ASACSTER – an honest mistake but also a little bit sloppy. Out of all the locations I have been to comedy in the North East I would say it’s one of my least favourite for the venue.
As I have said previously from seeing John Robins show – going to stand up shows on your own is blooming nerve wracking not really because of the stand ups (if they pick on me I will give them as good as I get – only new confidence thanks to Improv) but because I always worry what people around will say it’s a weird experience being on your own especially if your a girl.
Unlike Robins I got here early enough to actually pick where I wanted to sit so I wasn’t doomed with the seat at the front as i was when I saw Robins I chose the third row back instead and then had to move to second row in front of me. I hoped sitting on the end I wouldn’t be picked on but the girl next to me and the girl in front did so missed out by a tiny amount! It’s a nice room for a comedy show – lots of spare Leg room and dimmed lights with fairy lights.
Even when parts of a James show slightly mess up I can never tell if it is deliberate to go with his personality on the stage or whether it is actually genuine. An example of these is introducing audio that welcomes him on stage messed up and got messed up that it didn’t finish and he had to come on stage and explain what happened. Any other comedian I would believe that this was an accident with James I am never so sure. He is so good at playing this out there, slightly Wacky and a free spirit on stage that it’s really hard to work out if it was meant to happen or not.
Another example of this is that he forgot to mention one of his jokes earlier on in the set. Again it’s really hard to define with Acaster whether it’s reality or an act as it all plays extremely well in his favour and comedy.
The last time I saw James live I described him as a “suspicious meerkat” due to the way that he approached the stage but this was not the case this time as it did not go with the theme of his show – reset and beginning things again. I suppose if i had to use an adjective and an animal to describe him this time I would say a ‘Buzzing praying Mantis’ both of these have relations to one part of the show so will not go into this anymore in depth. However in basic terms his energy was very strong on stage and spread into the audience.
I won’t go into too much depth as to what the show is all a bout just in case you plan to see it at Edinburgh fringe or in the future. As a whole the show was highly entertaining and ridiculously funny. The great thing about James is that he doesn’t follow the norm of other comedians he does his own thing and does it his own way. There will always be the odd person in the audience who will tilt their head to the side and not really get it (Like the girl I ended up having to sit next to) but if you accept the style of comedy that he is and just take a step back and allow his comedy wave just flow over you and allow it in you will realise it’s highly hilarious.
Whilst I am not that keen on the venue, the show was very good and really great to see. Just like the last time I saw Acaster, he moves around the stage a lot and uses comedic timing to create an immersive experience. The last time I saw him live he was only a fifteen minute set and whilst it was good, from seeing a whole show with him, I would say that’s really the only way to see him live as the comedy timing is allowed to brew a bit and the stories have time to build up.
Go and see this show at Fringe if you want a show that is genuinely funny, a tad out there at times but down to the bone, it will make you laugh out loud a lot with his witty communication with the audience and the stories he comes up with. If you are a fan of his XFM ‘scrapes’, you 100% don’t want to miss this.
As for the South Tyneside comedy festival, I think it needs time to grow. As a lineup for the time it’s on, they have a variety of acts, however, I don’t think they are all evenly spread out. I think the thing that let the festival down was the area as it was like a ghost town and needs more atmosphere.