James Acaster on Why He Quit, His Book About Leaving Social Media, and His Viral Habits About Ricky Gervais

Everyone thought James Acaster had given up stand-up comedy. He said he would be “delighted” to never do it again. Except… he told me something else today. “I’m not going to decide one way or the other,” he said from his home in London. Really? But the five-time Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee told a podcast: “Right now, I don’t want to do that anymore.” His mindset at the time, he said, was to “don’t put pressure on yourself to say, ‘I have to go back’ or ‘I never get to go back’… I never did. said I would give up. Some people have the impression that I quit, but I really haven’t. “

Here are many reasons for the comedy Acaster. His 2019 tour Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 saw him at his most vulnerable stage on stage, speaking candidly about his mental health. But the popularity has brought with it more and more scammers, who, when combined with personal data, are hard to deal with. I went to the Cold Lasagne taping in 2019 and definitely felt it could be Acaster’s last show.

I mentioned this to him and he nodded. “As you can see it, it was the last time I performed the show and I was definitely ready to not stand still for a moment and just rest a bit,” he said. But it was always intended to be just – a break. The pandemic certainly makes it seem more permanent, but in reality, he’s probably “taking time off like most.”

Now, Acaster is returning to his own terms. He’s spent the past few months appearing at random gigs across the UK, and just last week he announced his US tour schedule for his new show (titled). suitable as Hecklers Welcome). It was news that made his fans collective heave a sigh of relief.

Since the release of Netflix’s Special Series in 2019, Acaster has gone from being a popular member of the show’s group stage in the UK to becoming the internet’s most beloved comedian. Despite his complete lack of social media presence, clips of him discussing Brexit and Piers Morgan regularly go viral. He has built a comedy brand that attacks the powerful, never falls, and has conquered fans all over the world with his unique brand of comedy – “Modern hipster humor.” , update your every minute,” as Rob Brydon called it on Acaster and Ed Gamble’s Off Menu food podcast.

Acaster began performing comedy in his early twenties in 2008, transitioning from his dream of performing in bands in his hometown of Kettering to being independent. Some of his first big gigs were supporting Josie Long and Milton Jones on their respective tours. They taught him the importance of cultivating a stage personality, which was a big part of Acaster’s comic self. During the performance, Acaster walked with a mischievous swagger and spoke quickly and confidently, his distinctive voice constantly fluctuating in distinctive pitch and range. The person in front of me on Zoom is much more subdued. His voice deepens and he deliberately chooses his words as he sinks deeper into the sofa.

The internet may have been instrumental in Acaster’s global success, but the comedian’s relationship with social media is more remote. He gave it all up in 2019 and is now releasing a parody guide James Acaster’s Social Media Escape Guide: Be the Best You Can Be and Save Yourself From Loneliness, episode first.

Written with the voice of motivational speakers constantly served by YouTube’s advertising algorithm, the book shows Acaster lecturing on his imaginary life on and off social media: how he she came across MySpace while searching for the gardening website MySpade.com; How a brief time in prison can actually be a good way to go offline. In fact, he gave up because he was simply bored with the whole thing. The book is a way of mocking people who are offline and claiming their lives have become so much better, “just like before social media existed, everyone was fine”.

Acaster knew that those online experts were “objectively malicious, preying on people in a vulnerable position,” but he found them oddly appealing. “Every time it’s always someone else, sitting in an expensive car, saying, ‘A year ago I was sleeping in a crate and now I’m here and I’ll tell you you can do it. how is that. . ‘” Their main skill? The ability to talk in the stream of consciousness without saying “um” or “uh” or “you know”. Acaster paused. “And I mean, it’s a lesson for all of us. If you learn to never say such things… I think it will open a lot of doors for you. “

The book may be written from the perspective of a fictional character, but it’s impossible not to read it in Acaster’s voice – or at least the stage voice. “My whole stance is on this exaggeration, but sometimes I’m a little more myself now. The line is a bit more blurred,” he said. Does he feel like people expect him to be more energetic when they meet him? He considers. “Sometimes you make people say, ‘Oh, I think you’re funnier in real life’ [or] they’ll respond in a way like that’s what they want and you don’t give it to them. But that’s their business. It’s not mine… If I’m not qualified to ask them ‘Poppadoms or bread?’ [his catchphrase on Off Menu]they agree with that. “

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Either way, Acaster enjoys these interactions with a sense of “constant availability” for fans on social media. Yes, they can message him every day on Instagram and read about what he ate for breakfast on Twitter, but that’s a misguided, one-way conversation. “Even for them, it’s not really as much fun as they think it is,” he explains. It’s like having the same food every day. You’re just constantly eating one Mars bar a day, and really, maybe it’s nice to have a Mars bar every now and then as a treat. So now I’m comparing myself to a chocolate bar,” he joked to himself.

Acaster worked hard to be open on stage, but he didn’t want to depend on his audience for emotional validation. In Cold Lasagne, released by Acaster as a pay-to-watch special in 2019, the comedian spoke at length about his mental health: the show culminates in his story calling the Samaritans in the middle of filming a charity special. by The Great British Bake Off. On stage, Acaster said these were the emotions he experienced. And then he joked: “Don’t take this lightly, but a lot of you will never be the first I go to.”

This line is important for two reasons. First, to prevent the expressions of “patronizing” pity he received from the audience while discussing his mental health. And, more importantly, to show his fans, many of whom have similar predicaments, that it could get better. “I think it helps if someone goes, ‘Oh, by the way, I don’t feel that way right now. I did, but now I don’t,” he said. “I really don’t want to romanticize that stuff and encourage people to just be in it. I want to talk about doing the work, going to therapy, but doing the work any way you can… Let everyone know at the end of the show that things are no longer the same. “

Releasing Cold Lasagne independently instead of on an existing streamer was a risky decision for Acaster. But given the personal nature of the content, he wanted to maintain as much ownership as possible. “All the words on the show were as precise as I could do to not be misinterpreted by the audience,” he explained. “I know very well that, if you release it, there will be people … going to post about it online out of context and there will be people whose only experience with the show is out of context clips, or memes, or double quotes, and it becomes something different. “

However, there is a clip from Cold Lasagne that did the rounds on Twitter. In it, Acaster targets so-called “shrewd” comedians who have built their brand around “challenging” material that “slams transgender people”. “Oh yeah, because you know who’s long overdue? Transgender community,” he joked. He later confessed, “I used to name one of the comedians on that regular show, but it was always really awkward in the room. Because apparently, it’s 2019. Most people? It’s still better than laughing with transgender people. Laughing is not as comfortable as Ricky Gervais”.

The clip reappears whenever Gervais, Dave Chappelle, or any of the other comedians release a new special that includes jokes about transgender people. How does Acaster feel to learn that this video, removed from the show’s context, was shared in this way? Pause. Acaster carefully considered his answer; he seems to deliberately avoid saying Gervais’s name. “Well, I’m definitely glad the clip used was an intact clip… It’s kept in context, so that’s great.” Friends often text him and ask if he’s okay with fans of comedians criticizing him, but “I don’t see that, and I don’t mind either. If it’s the people who disagree with that statement, then I don’t really mind if they’re angry about it or hate me. “

What he really hopes is that well-intentioned fans don’t just look to people like him – or “brave boys”, as he puts it in the special issue – to comment on crosstalk. in comedy. “All is well and good, my comedy routine about it, [but] people sometimes talk about it as if it’s something people continue to argue about. I know the argument is that a bunch of comedians say this and so people hit back with a clip of another comedian, and I understand how that’s relevant and I’m being specific. about them. But today there are a lot of excellent transgender comedians at work, and many writers and thinkers are written on the subject more clearly and better than I wear a pair of aviator glasses and a jacket. sunset. “

After recording Cold Lasagne in December 2019, Acaster took a break from independent activities. The tour has been a tough one. He was excited to let go of some of his personalities on stage and talk about his real life. In the end, viewers wrote online that Acaster spent most of each show interacting with his fans, unable to ignore their screams.

That period of time allowed him the opportunity to work on his relationship with the audience, deal with the narcissists, and think about how he can protect his mental health on stage. . “I’m diving into it and I know, ‘These are the things that I really didn’t like before, so let’s focus on those things and let’s focus on making that better and making the aspect of it better. “My performance is better,” he said. “Now pick it up and go, ‘Okay, I don’t like all that, but what are we going to do about that? How do we make sure those things don’t screw it up for you?’ – that’s really positive.” And then Acaster said something that a year ago I didn’t feel was possible: I have a gig tonight and I’m looking forward to it.”

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/james-acaster-on-why-he-took-a-break-his-book-on-leaving-social-media-and-his-viral-routine-about-ricky-gervais-41933926.html James Acaster on Why He Quit, His Book About Leaving Social Media, and His Viral Habits About Ricky Gervais

Fry Electronics Team

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