James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes is the first book from comedian James Acaster, in which he recounts some of his most embarrassing and amusing stories. I am not a big reader of non-fiction, but with this past week being my busiest at work, I turned to James’ book as a light hearted read to keep me entertained and help me through a tough week – and it worked!
As a fan of his comedy style this was a book I was looking forward to reading. And if you aren’t familiar with James’ work then I would recommend checking out his recent comedy specials on Netflix and his participation in the current series of Taskmaster which is a hilarious show and a favourite of mine (end of TV plug). He also appeared on Josh Widdicombe’s radio show and it was here that these ‘classic scrapes’ were given their name. As a result there were a couple of the stories in this book which I recognised from previous appearances on TV and on the radio, but they are joined here by previously unheard stories, all of which make for amusing reading. The stories range from childhood hi-jinks and workplace pranks to unfortunate encounters on public transport and awkward appearances at a festival. As individual stories they are all bizarre and entertaining but they are also interspersed with James’ amusing observations on life. And also along the way some of the stories are accompanied by illustrations which I loved which helped add to the story.
I read the scrapes over the course of the week, taking in a few chapters on each lunch break but it is a book that is easy to get into and could also be read in one sitting. It was a book that made me laugh out loud, smile, and cringe a little, as we see James get into unusual situations, only for those situations to get all the more excruciating, despite his efforts! And it is this blend of awkwardness and self awareness as the situations spiral out of control that make this such an enjoyable read, and I read on wondering what might be on the next page, and how things could get worse. And as someone who considers myself to be pretty awkward socially I was left relieved that I don’t have enough embarrassing tales to fill a book – yet (reminisces about inadequate changing room doors and poorly signposted service station toilets). In terms of my highlights from amongst these scrapes I particularly enjoyed reading about James’ skydive for Age Concern (and concerns about his age!) and a random trip to a French porcelain exhibition, the last sentence of which particularly made me laugh!
I really enjoyed reading James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes and it turned out to be just the book I needed this week to keep me smiling! I would be interested in listening to the audiobook for this as I imagine hearing James recount these anecdotes will make them even more bizarre and hilarious, and I hope that maybe there will be further stories from James that may find themselves in a second book…