James Acaster Laugh at the LCR review: All three comedians were top notch

James Acaster's Laugh at the LCR: Photo: Courtesy of Norwich Box Office

James Acaster's Laugh at the LCR: Photo: Courtesy of Norwich Box Office - Credit: Courtesy of Norwich Box Office

I've been lucky enough to enjoy hundreds of music gigs at the Nick Raynes LCR over the years. So many good bands and DJs. So it was weird to enter the main hall for the first time ever in normal lighting with seats arranged in front of the stage.

What was a comedy gig going to be like in this hall, what would the student-y crowd be like, and how did the people standing throughout the gig feel, were just some of the questions going through my mind.

Well, I've seen comedy in less suitable places, such as the entrance hall to the Forum in the City Centre, but at least there everybody had a seat. If I'd had to stand for four and a quarter hours between 7 and 11.15pm like more than half the crowd, without a proper view of the stage, I'd have been less than impressed. Especially as the tickets were not cheap. But I digress. What about the comedy?

The compère for the evening was a comedian who was new to me, Patrick Monahan. Despite being held up in traffic, delaying the start by a good half hour, he did a great job warming up the crowd with jokes about his unique mixed Iranian and Irish heritage, alongside some excellent crowd banter. In particular his match making attempts between a late arriving girl and a bemused young lad on the front row.

Next up was the London comedian Nathan Caton, who I've seen several times on TV. He's an immensely likeable guy with some excellent material, including a great routine about living with his Mum until his early 30's and his new flat. And of course people who wear cardigans. He had set the bar very high for the main act, and the guy everybody came to see.

James Acaster entered the stage around 9.30 and was immediately hilarious. He's one of my favourite comedians and you can see why he sells out virtually every gig he's booked for, with his super-dry delivery and weird material. He soon began to freestyle, and rather than stick rigidly to his tried and tested material, as with his excellent Netflix special, he was soon talking about different types of doors and bantering with several people around the room, and winning every battle with different hecklers.

Despite referencing his well known routines such as Kettering Town FC and cabbages, he steadfastly refused to go there and the instead derived humour from how young the crowd (mainly) was, and how funny he was finding how out of touch with them he suddenly was, considering his surprising age of 34 (I thought he was way younger!). The sign of a great comedian is when they can go off-piste, and get big laughs from there.

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Would I go to another comedy gig at the LCR? Probably not, considering the excellent venues in the city way more suited to it, such as Theatre Royal and the Playhouse. The lack of seating is a major issue, as is the ridiculous scrum for the bar at the start of the night, plus of course the worse scrum as everybody tried to get their £1 deposits back for the beer cups at the end (really?).

Am I glad I went tonight? Absolutely. All three comedians were top notch, so kudos to the team who made it happen.