JUAN ZOBER DE FRANCISCO and ALICE CARR think this week’s Footlights Smoker was like a shirt. A very good shirt. Obviously.
ADC Theatre, Tuesday 13th March, 11pm, £6-7
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.