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Mock the Week's James Acaster talks touring and getting told off in Belfast


James Acaster is performing in Belfast this weekend.

James Acaster is performing in Belfast this weekend.

James Acaster is performing in Belfast this weekend.

Comedian James Acaster might be best known as a semi-regular on panel show Mock the Week, but his style of comedy has made him stand out from the norm.

James is set to perform a three-night stint at Belfast's The Limelight 2 this weekend, performing his last three shows - Recognise, Represent, and Reset - over consecutive nights.

Ahead of the trilogy of shows, James has been speaking about why he likes the touring lifestyle and reminiscing about the time he was told off by an old man in Belfast.

You're performing your last three shows over three nights - that's a lot of jokes to remember. Have you ever forgotten any parts of a show, or got them mixed up?

Luckily not - I think in the early stages of the tour, it wasn't a case of going blank, but because I was so focused on remembering the material I forgot the way I used to perform it. You are so focused on remembering the words, you can forget to think about the delivery.

Once I had the words cemented in my head I didn't have to think about them anymore and I was able to relax back into the performance of it.

Remembering the delivery is just as important.

Comedians spend a majority of their life on the road, do you enjoy that kind of lifestyle?

I like touring and I like stopping off at service stations and driving along motorways. Hotels are still exciting to me for some reason.

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The touring lifestyle is still quite fun for me.

Do you prefer touring over doing TV shows?

I like them both - if I was doing the same thing all the time and never did anything else I would start to resent it whatever it was.

I really love that with this job I get to do a bit of TV, radio, and touring. It's just really fun to have the variety.

Have you performed in Belfast before and were the audience nice to you?

I did a gig once at the Sunflower Pub - the audience were really great although there was one old guy who was picking me up on stuff quite a lot.

I was doing a routine about being an undercover cop and he was getting legitimately annoyed.

He said: "You can't come to Belfast and claim you are a police officer, we don't like that here!" The other people in the room just told me to ignore him.

I remember it being one of the most fun gigs I had ever done around that time. I really enjoyed it.

Dealing with hecklers is kind of an occupational hazard for comedians, how do you handle them?

You just deal with them all on their individual merit, you can't have a set way for everyone - and you have to make sure you don't go in too hard or even too soft.

If someone is actively trying to ruin the gig you've got to think about the audience rather than yourself. If this person is ruining it for everyone else in the room you have to stamp it out as best you can.

But if it's someone who's really enjoying the show and they are getting a bit over-enthusiastic, then you can't completely slam them and leave a weird, frosty atmosphere in the room.

Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong - it's just the nature of any job.

Have you had many hecklers to deal with in your career?

I'd say I get heckled quite a lot because I look quite like an easy target, if you're an alpha-male and you think you've got something to prove to your girlfriend, I think I'm the perfect person to prove your worth.

But people might forget I'm a comedian and deal with these types of people all the time - and I'm quite good at it.

I've never had a heckle that helped!

How do you go about writing new material?

I think the main thing is to write about what you want to. I think about what I'm feeling enthusiastic about, what are people talking about right now, and then I just start writing that.

Then I just take my new material and try it out on stage - that's the best way to know if something works properly. I usually record it and then play it back after, maybe re-word it and try it out again.

I know what I want to talk about, but I don't really know what's funny about a joke until I perform it in front of an audience.

You're known for appearing on Mock the Week, has your fanbase grown because of it?

It definitely has and luckily it's a show that lets me just be who I am. I can be on there with completely different style of comics, but still do my thing.

If people are coming to see me because they like what I do on Mock the Week, that's great because they are coming to see me being me.

  • James Acaster is performing at The Limelight 2 from Friday, June 2 - Sunday, June 4 .

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