Footlights Smoker

JUAN ZOBER DE FRANCISCO and ALICE CARR think this week’s Footlights Smoker was like a shirt. A very good shirt. Obviously.

Ahir Shah Ali Lewis Chess Copley Footlights George Gordon George Potts harry michell Ian Samson jack gamble James Bloor jason forbes Lowell Belfield Lucy Farrett Marcus Clarke Matty Bradley Metaphors Phil Wang Pierre Novellie pokemon Smoker Taylor

ADC Theatre, Tuesday 13th March, 11pm, £6-7

[rating: 4/5]

The crowd were raucous. Sketches shot out of the creative madness of the Footlights team like silver and gold bullets of comedy. Stale routines were banned; the show was fresher than a pineapple picked by Prince Harry from Belize. We’re not making much sense here. Then again neither did the Smoker – but it was still damn fine fun.

It was a hodgepodge, a smorgasbord of frenzied humour. If it were food it would have been a buffet, but not the shit ‘Continental breakfast’ type buffets that you get in medium-to-high-end hostels. It was more like the type where they serve actual pomegranate and passion fruit. Stretching the fruit analogy to its limits: if the show was fruit the fruit was fresh. Like the comedy. Yeah.

Right, let’s get serious. Mr Novellie was clearly born to be a woman with a high-pitched voice. No one throws casual racism quite as well as Mr Wang, and his Igor impression had even the cast in tears. Mr Lewis was versatile, and that’s not a euphemism. Mr Potts laughed endearingly. Mr Belfield was perfect (literally we could not find a fault with him). Mr Shah did a brilliant sketch on CDE that will rile the already-angry Marxists of Cambridge. Mr Forbes was slick. Mr Michell had the best two-minute streak of them all (drugs sketch) and Mr Bradley recovered the show wonderfully when Mr Michell slipped up.

All in all, a star-studded cast delivered a solid yet adventurous performance throughout the night.

And they weren’t let down by the non-committee members. The sheer diversity makes it difficult to give them all justice in one review; Alzheimer’s and Pokémon were blended successfully, chess metaphors were (well) stretched by Messrs Copley and Taylor, Jack Gamble shone and Lucy Farrett discussed trannies and child-rearing. Ian Samson had great flow and Marcus Clarke tanked (in the words of someone behind us, “oh god” – and not in a good way). James Bloor did a highly convincing performance of a landscape gardener – accurate, but not particularly funny. George Gordon rounded things off with a delightful song about round people. The chorus at the end was a lovely touch.

Imagine the smoker as a very good shirt. Sure, it has the occasional crease here and there, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s cut from great material in a refreshing new style. Sketches and stand-up were blended with the art and skill of a master tailor. Have we taken the shirt metaphor too far? Sometimes smokers can be repetitive, sometimes they can be formulaic. Tonight’s smoker was neither – it was bloody good.