Review: The Smoker
CHLOE MASHITER is sad the girls couldn’t live up to the high standard of their male counterparts.
Whilst last night’s Smoker had the unsurprising combination of some funny bits and some not-so-funny bits, what is surprising is how easily you can change that to: some funny guys and some not-so-funny girls. This review will read slightly like a ‘who has a dick’ contest, so if you have a desperate need to quickly know who was good and who wasn’t, just check out their testosterone levels.
Let’s start with the positives (aka men). My favourite act of the night by far was Joey Batey as Jimmy, a character with a wonderfully childlike view of the world, such that he represents ‘a proper sense of decorum’ by drawing a vampire with a flower; his innocence was so endearing that when he revealed he liked to play tricks on his blind girlfriend, I laughed and went ‘awwww’ in equal measure.
The best of the rest were all sketches – Keith Akushie and Dannish Babar were brilliantly paired as the Mathemagicians, teaching us about all the fun numbers: 69, hi 5, 9/11… Lucien Young and Ellie Ross (they have three X chromosomes between them, so it’s fine) were spot-on as a pair of desperately enthusiastic yet out of touch anti-drugs campaigners, particularly when dancing in a club like broken puppets operated by an epileptic dog. A brutally honest Come Dine With Me voiceover (‘Julia is a clumsy bitch’) also made for a great sketch.
Now to the not-so-positives (aka girls). Maybe this was just me, since there were other people laughing at these points, but I just didn’t ‘get’ why the girls’ material qualified as comedy. I didn’t get why Katy Bulmer, staggering around the stage talking about her apparently chinchilla-like vagina, was meant to be funny. I didn’t get why getting angrier and louder was any substitute for jokes. I didn’t get why a plagiarism hotline was at all humorous – no, you can’t just invent a slightly quirky situation, run with it, and just hope a joke will emerge somehow. That’s not really how it works.
And you wouldn’t expect your heart to sincerely sink during a comedy night, but mine did when someone – I’m not sufficiently familiar with the entirety of the Cambridge comedy scene to know this girl’s name, but maybe that’s fortunate here – used the uninspiring opener ‘do you remember…’ Why yes, I do remember (Panda Pops, as it happened to be this time). Well done for establishing that a certain fizzy drink used to exist, and my memory is sufficiently operative to recall said drink. Now please can we get past this and get to some fucking jokes.
So the three and a half stars up there are pretty much exclusively for the blokes that performed last night. I’m not saying you shouldn’t bother with the Smoker (as if a review really could have even the slightest impact on the Smokers selling out, which seems more inevitable than both death and taxes) because the good parts were incredibly good. I’m just saying it was a shame that, during a comedy show, a certain section of the performers had forgotten to be funny.