Review: The King’s Jest

ROB BROWN enjoyed a well put together evening of comedy with only a few duff notes.

Comedy Corderoy Jest King's Novellie Smith Wang Williams

The King’s Jest

**** with an extra * for the startlingly well-endowed, freakishly talented comedy genius that is Rob Smith [is that nice enough Rob?]

First, a confession. I am going to be highly biased in this review (see above). The Tab’s own reviews editor was part of this fine array of comic excellence. So I can’t slag him off or he won’t virtually print this and I’ll be consigned to the bargain bin of the Cambridge newspaper world. Oh wait… fuck. More than that, he’s my friend (not in a gay way – believe me I’ve tried), so it’s through gritted teeth that I offer an uncharacteristically generous review.

The King’s Jest is fast becoming a staple of the Cambridge comedy scene to rival even the great Wolfson Howler. Apparently. I dunno, I’m not a proper reviewer, all I know was it made me laugh. A lot. Make sure you get there nice and early though, my companions and I were entirely too relaxed, until we reached the ominously locked doors of Kings that was. Luckily we managed to break in (why are colleges like prisons – are they trying to tell us something?) and after a mad dash down the lengthy queue, flashing angry looks at those who barred our way – press don’t you know, so you can fuck right off – Rob’s girlfriend and I took our seats minus half our party, somewhat dishevelled and totally stressed out.

Luckily, we had two hours of lovely lovely comedy to look forward to. The show itself was very good: it was quick-fire; it was beautifully varied in style and substance; there was a joke about Marx that was simple while still playing up to our vast intellects and dizzying wit. The range of eight warm-up acts were all excellent in radically different ways and made the most of their short stints to build to a crescendo of howls to rival the great Wolfson (see what I did there?). The material touched on class, politics, being northern, bukkake and computing frustration. There was even a female comedian that didn’t suck. My god.

Special mention, however, has to go to Pierre Novellie, who combined some genuinely excellent material with the laid back yet manically unfocused style of a Dylan Moran. Brilliant. Similarly excellent as per usual was Phil Wang. He’s a genius. Pure, semi-Asian genius. Plus he’s got a ukulele. Ukuleles are cool right? Cool. The job of compere is always hard and almost always fucked up (see any of the hosts of the BBC’s Live at the Apollo); but Wang was coolness and charm personified. Quite frankly, these two were capable of carrying the show on their own. Oh and gentlemen, there’s a particular other half of a particular Tab reviews editor willing to jump comedy ships if you’re interested?

The headliner was Liam Williams. Looking like a cross between a particularly antsy drug addict and Gary Oldman the early years, Williams was brilliant. He owned the stage with a sort of surprised insouciance that guaranteed laughs even before he opened his mouth. Particularly skilled at audience interaction and displaying an admirable ability to thread spur-of-the-moment jokes seamlessly in amongst rehearsed material, he was only slowed down by a lack of pianists. Come on guys, this is Cambridge, every other audience member was probably eighth grade, so next time take your testicles in both hands and go and play the fucking piano when a guy asks.

There were some bum notes in the show however. While each act managed to come up with at least one hearty guffaw, a few of the acts struggled for much more than this. Some of the material was simply too similar, playing up to North-South and the standard Cambridge stereotypes all too readily. For example, an act based around jokes about the North East came too close together with one lampooning Liverpool/Manchester.

Oh and how was Rob Smith you ask? Very good sadly, sandwiching jokes about the holocaust with his usual mix of self-depreciation and righteous anger. Here’s to hoping he gets off his skinny arse and puts those chicken arms to good use more often.

So to sum up, King’s Jest was pretty good. There’s apparently going to be a sketch version in a couple of weeks, which I would whole-heartedly recommend (although personally I think sketches are far harder to get right). I’m sure it’ll be a great night’s entertainment all round, apart from that cunt in glasses with the shit hair.