Comic James Acaster on his plunge into experimental music: ‘I don’t know what I’m doing – but I see that as a strength’

Could the celebrated standup knock out an album of his own tunes? Yes, he says, with the aid of a dusty old drum kit, 40 musicians – and a novelty animal costume

It started off, as many great creative undertakings do, as a joke. A few years ago, James Acaster’s parents gave him an ultimatum: collect your old dust-lagged drum kit from our house or we’ll throw it out. Not long before, Louis Theroux’s company had contacted the comedian to ask if he had any documentary ideas. Acaster, who spent his youth playing in bands before becoming a comedian, had a brainwave: how about, instead of a straight-faced doc, he made a mockumentary about himself pivoting “very pompously” from celebrated standup to Serious Musician?

The film would begin with the Kettering native swearing off comedy at his “last gig ever” before driving home to pick up his drums. Then he would start on his magnum opus, laying down some beats in the studio while staring down a gigantic cuddly alligator in a pink top hat (more on him later) as his worried manager, played by comedian John Kearns, looked on. Eventually, deciding his work wasn’t up to scratch, he would call in esteemed drummer Seb Rochford to play over the recording, allowing the comedian to pass it off as his own.

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