Acaster previously played drums in local bands in Northamptonshire including Pindrop, Three Line Whip and The Wow! Scenario. After The Wow! Scenario broke up, he "decided to do comedy before deciding what he really wanted to do".
He has appeared on Russell Howard's Good News Extra and was the internet act in Dave's One Night Stand from Bristol. In 2011 he had his first solo show at the Edinburgh Festival, "Amongst Other Things". Acaster appeared in Australia Versus and was co-host in My First Gig on Resonance FM radio. 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 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" 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 has a keen following for his "classic scrapes".
Acaster's 2014 Edinburgh show was called Recognise. The show was previewed in April and May in Australia and New Zealand, where it won the New Zealand International Comedy Festival Award for Best International Show. Recognise was again nominated for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award 2014 for best comedy show - third in a row for Acaster. 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 appeared as a panellist on 8 Out of 10 Cats on 17 March and 4 November 2014, and on Spicks and Specks in Australia on 14 May 2014. and Acaster has been a guest several times on Mock the Week.
Acaster's 2015 Edinburgh show was called Represent, again performed at the Pleasance Courtyard. 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.
Acaster appeared as a guest on Have I Got News for You in June 2015. On 2 December 2015, he appeared as "Mike" on the BBC Three sitcom Josh. On 7 December 2015, he appeared on Live at the Apollo, performing segments from his show "Represent"
Acaster's 2016 show is called "Reset". It will preview at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April 2016, then at the Udderbelly Festival in June 2016. Acaster is expected to take this show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2016, and tour in autumn 2016.
Acaster will star in a series of stand up specials, "Live from the BBC", which will air on the BBC Three online platform in February 2016.
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