Perfect Strangers

AMI JONES finds the simple things the funniest in the Footlight’s latest offering.

Abi Tedder ADC Comedy Emma Powell Footlights George Potts jason forbes Jonny Lennard Phil Wang Pierre Novellie

ADC Theatre, 12th-16th June, 7.45pm, £6-10

Directed by Jonny Lennard and Abi Tedder

[rating: 3/5]

The thing about sketch shows is they’re normally put together by funny people. What was nice about the preview run of this year’s Footlights Tour Show was that they had more to offer. Emma Powell showed she was far from token in her femaleness by bringing some solid, good-quality acting ability to the stage (not altogether common in sketch shows). And Jason Forbes shone whenever he was given free reign on his home turf of physical comedy with his enviable range of limb-wriggling skills.

And this show would have been that much better had it just relaxed a bit, realised there was plenty good about it, and kept things simple. The anthropomorphic toy sketch was original and funny, with a great ‘twist’ midway, but simply went on for too long and was ruined by the addition of a second, weaker ‘twist’ at the very end. Forbes dominating the stage in full wriggle-mode in a sort of absurd parody of magician showmanship was positively delightful, but ruined by a disappointing exposé.

I imagine it must be infuriating for comedians – especially Cambridge comedians – that a sketch can be as pleasingly clever as you like, but at the end of the day it’s often the most stupid, inexplicable and unpredictable things that get the big laughs. A sketch about a phone that can call its past and future selves was innovative, clever and very well-structured and I was engrossed throughout, but it wasn’t really laugh at loud stuff. And a sketch revolving around a Disney-princess Disney-singing a Disney-clean-up song had clearly taken huge amounts of effort and rehearsal, and was impressively seamless, but again just didn’t seem to evoke much more than a placid smile from me.

On the other hand, all it took was for Pierre Novellie to stuff a pair of ping-ping balls into his eye sockets for me to start laughing embarrassingly loudly. I also can’t explain why George Potts’ impersonation of Mr. Moneybags (the guy popping out of the central “O” in the “MONOPOLY” on the front of the box) was actually insuppressable-laughter levels of hilarious, but it was.

I have no doubt that the show will be distilled into a solid hour of Cambridge comedy, with some real gems embedded throughout, and go on to sell-out runs in Edinburgh, much to the rage and envy of everyone else out on the Mile. Do catch your final comedy kicks before the dry spell of summer – and this is acceptable to attend drunk, so you’ve really no excuse.