Pierre Novellie does comedy so good that KIERAN CORCORAN has to resort to contrived references to Japanese gameshows to express it fully. KAWAAAI.

Comedy coprus playroom footlight Footlights kieran corcoran nonsense Novellie Pierre Novellie Smoker Stand Up very good

Corpus Playroom, 29th November – 3rd December


Pierre Novellie complimented my outfit, gave me a present and got a room of 80 people to boo TCS. Five stars.

I’m being flippant. Nonsense is worth five stars not because of those things, even though I’m glad that they happened. Nonsense is worth five stars, and your time and currency, because it’s an hour of muscular material from a man who is actually funny, as opposed to a man who sits in a room trying really hard to be funny and making up confused and confusing similes like a giraffe inhaling chiropodists.

As demonstrated by his prompt-cards – disarmingly pinned to the ceiling – Nonsense isn’t a masterpiece of scripted punchlines and rigid professionalism. It’s a masterpiece of the exact opposite. Closer inspection after the show revealed veins of material that the comic didn’t even touch, which will doubtless get picked up in shows later this week.

His style feels conversational, and really that’s exactly what it is. Novellie does audience interaction better than probably anyone else doing jokes in Cambridge at the moment; he can comfortably make something funny out of whatever audiences throw at him.

His stand-up is brave – it has a lot of his own life in it, which means that if we hated it, we’d hate him as well. And it is also about things we know about – lectures, tourists, getting drunk in Cambridge – which means it takes the dual risks of being inaccurate or dull. On paper that’s worrying, and in practice you see newbies try and falter like hordes of contestants on Takeshi’s Castle in smokers week in week out.

Pierre Novellie is the Takeshi of Cambridge comedy. The Corpus Playroom is his castle. And as such, in his mighty palms even risky material flourishes and actually goes some way to restoring my faith in students doing stand-up about being students. Though I’m sure it’ll be eroded again soon.

To go much deeper into the substance of Novellie’s routines would just ruin them for you a little bit, which is exactly the relationship a review shouldn’t have with its show. More so than with other comedy currently around, the fact is that I just couldn’t tell it like Novellie could. So basically, go – I’ve been waiting all term to be sent to review a show I can endorse without reservation, and this is the one.

Also, as a side-note, everyone entering the show gets an envelope saying “DO NOT OPEN.” I’m a Tab reviewer, so obviously I opened it straight away. Don’t do that. Firstly, you will fear what you discover and secondly, it’s not what Pierre would have wanted. And after Nonsense I am convinced that what Pierre would have wanted, from an audience perspective, unfailingly hits the mark.