Non-Smoker

KIERAN CORCORAN out of the funniest funnymen that there are amongst funny people, the one who was supposed to be the funniest of the funniest funnymen was the least funny of the funniest funnymen.

ADC Theatre, 9-12th June, 11pm, £4-6

[rating: 4/5]

Cambridge’s best comics are stand-ups, and these are our best stand-ups. Sketches seem to come more easily to tripos-trained Footlight brains, but the confidence and quality of stand-up in general, and Non-Smoker in particular, win every time.

So why don’t the best people at the best thing CamComedy does get the big 5? Basically because Ahir Shah’s set featured barely any new material, which made it a bit of a drag for anybody who’s seen him before. The rest was great though.

In total contrast to Shah, Pierre Novellie was unfailingly fresh and spontaneous. Compère sans compare, and master of working an audience, he failed wonderfully in his self-appointed task not upstaging his fellow comics. The South African funnyman did spend a lot of time on the kind of nationality-based humour which can come across as a bit lazy, but given the cosmopolitan lemons provided by last night’s front row, he made riotous comedy lemonade.

Ali Lewis was, as ever, a potent mash-up of casual delivery and quickfire punchlines. Longer routines still peppered their build-ups with punnage along the way, and had a good dose of absurdity without being ridiculous. Angry Birds-based gags struck particularly close to the heart.

Charmingly, each night has a different special guest to fill the middle slot, like a mystery comedy sandwich. Lowell Belfield was Wednesday’s filling. I can’t remember a single thing he said, but his shuffly, hyper-awkward delivery makes practically anything funny. Of course, he won’t be there any other nights, but if the other guests measure up to him then there will be nothing to worry about.

Back to Shah. I reviewed the majority of his set here seven months ago, when I liked it a lot. It’s to his credit that he still made me laugh a bit with the same jokes, but I wasn’t alone in having expected more from the headline act. If you’ve never seen him before then this obviously doesn’t matter, but – bizarrely – if you’re already a fan you might be better off giving it a miss.

Non-Smoker is the product of three student comics at the natural conclusion of their university careers – in terms of confidence and professionalism in the ADC, this is the peak. It is therefore a sound investment of your exam term dollar, which, despite a disappointing headliner, is still a much better idea than spending the midnight hours weeping in the college library.

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