Corpus Birthday Smoker

Warped moments of hilarity and unenlightened disdain…The Corpus Smoker proves to be a mixed bag for RHONDA NICHOLL.

Abi Tedder Corpus Playroom Corpus Smoker Dannish Babar Joey Batey Johnny Lennard Matt Lloyd Phil Wang Pierre Novellie Rhonda Nicholl Will Harman

[Rating: 3/5]

Corpus Playroom, 31st Jan 2011, 9.30pm, £5-6

“The first one of term is always good, but then they just get worse and worse as the term goes on. So by Week 8, it’s just like, here are the scraps of Cambridge Comedy.” So spoke the guy in the row in front of me. He then proceeded to screech manically at every joke, drawing ‘you’re weird’ stares even from the ever-chilled compère Pierre Novellie.

It was a freezing night, and I was skeptical that any comedy could justify leaving the comforts of my home. More heat is gained by cowering around a lit fag than from the Corpus Playroom’s heating system, and Pierre’s brilliantly narcissistic birthday theme had fire not far from our minds either. His sporadic appearances and obscure gift-giving offered joviality and respite: ‘I told you were all going to burn to death!’ he thundered, bear-like, when some moron opened the fire door. Actually, this offered an ideal distraction from Matt Lloyd’s otherwise listless (sorry, intellectually deadpan) lists.  I felt some obligation to find comedy regular Phil Wang funny, but he just seemed to deliver up some vaguely unmemorable one-liners. Still, the audience laughed.

Dannish Babar served up an alluring and sinister concoction of filth blended with innocence. His Marmite comparisons (ranging from ‘I’m brown and smell of yeast’ to ‘my mother loves me, my father hates me’) were wrong and wrong again. Like your creepy uncle whose ‘gone off his meds’, he skittered around the stage being weirdly hilarious. I don’t know whether he needs a CRB check or therapy, but he remains disturbingly funny.

Joey Batey may have outshone his compatriots in the sartorial stakes, but his comedy withered in comparison. He paced around the stage like some kind of trapped and crazed racoon, constantly squinting at his prep notes only to deliver a half-completed and recycled old sex joke.

Will Harman drooled on about his ‘gap-yahhr’, complete with ‘Anne Frank Wank.’ His bad boy efforts drew more of a collective sign of unenlightened disdain from the audience. My advice is to stick to the gap year. I’ll be sending my dad the invoice for compensation for the part of my soul he brutally killed.

Jonny Lennard’s warped Disney, however, was fantastic.  His child-like physique combined with a delivery that read something like Enid Blyton-on-acid (‘He was frustrated, but not to the point of striking the child’) made him great fun and provided some much-needed originality.

The night concluded with Abi Tedder, the only female act- ‘Oh no! She’s going to talk about her vagina!’ Au contraire! She was at ease and delivered an idiosyncratic montage of chaotic ramblings. From romantic laments and lessons in macabre ways to kill daddy longlegs, to a hilarious visual synopsis of Black Swan (ballet positions included), Tedder ended the night on a high.

Corpus Smoker: weird mixture of warped-innocence meets public school boy humour. But the packed audience laughed (a lot).