The Smoker proves to be another mixed bag of potential for TADHGH BARWELL O’CONNOR, some of it fulfilled, some of it not.
ADC Theatre, Tuesday 15th February, 11pm, £5-6
One of the most assured and professional opening gambits I’ve ever seen at a smoker promised a phenomenal standard that was only occasionally lived up to. The charming calm of an Irish Brogue, ability to play technical malfunctions for laughs and just the right amount of audience interaction left the entire crowd asking “who the hell is this new guy?!” He didn’t rely on punch lined jokes, or scenario based comedy, but played those around him perfectly. Though much longer than most opening stand-ups it never dragged, and it would have been brilliant to see him appear at least once again.
The trio that bombed two weeks ago somehow got a repeat show and performed in similarly unspectacular fashion. With poor pacing and stuttered lines the guy who looks like the sex obsessed nerd from GLEE needs to calm right down. His compatriot in crimes against comedy shifted from one foot to another so often I felt seasick. Again glimmers of talent were visible, but utterly swamped underneath a lot of complete rubbish. The other fresher on offer systematically insulted the geographical limits of the UK in what were perfectly passable accents, but flowed slower than glass. Though her acting was pretty decent and she held her nerve, more practice was certainly needed.
Luckily the fresher bashing can end here. Worthy of the utmost praise were the regular suspects: Emma Sidi will be wasted in whichever country she graces with her presence next year – her crack whore monologue showed her well pitched characterisation, allowing her to create comedy out of lines meaning absolutely nothing. Theo Chester was on fire with the Mario/Luigi sketch involving banana skins, the ‘magic mushrooms’ and a great bit of slapstick, though the blackmailed and bestialised dog was a strong closer for the night also. Phil Wang and Dannish Barber used the voice over to brilliant effect as two utterly uncoordinated idiots, while Mairin O’Hagan, supported by Kat Jack and Max Levine, brought home the reality of parental support at Cambridge: “stop being a whiny bitch dear, and if it’s so hard just drop out!” “Thanks … Mum …”
The best prize goes jointly to George Potts’ pseudo-Italian boss firing his lacklustre employee -perversions, ticks and hilarious accents pierced you with unstoppable giggles, and to Alexander Owen and Joe Bannister’s Leg-End(ary) Mates on a road trip that brought sentimentality, unbearable awkwardness and even song to the stage – a genuine treat to see.
So, as ever, another ‘mixed bag’ – old hat maybe, but if the shoe fits…We’ve got a load of talented finalists and linguists, but who’s gonna fill their boots next year? The doors are wide open – get those quills a-scribbling and let’s see some new faces under the Footlights’ limelight.