TOMMY SHANE spent the night with the crème de la crème of Cambridge comedy talent.
‘If you look scared, I will come for you.’ Such was the fearlessness and confidence of Siân Docksey. She was brilliant.
She opened with the over-used disclaimer of the compère: ‘I’m meant to be good enough to be entertaining but bad enough for you to look forward to the next acts.’
But this was a silly thing to say. Docksey tied together this night of four stand up comics with the eager anticipation for her every next arrival.
Her act was refreshingly broad, avoiding the annoying crutch of a failing love life. Her deliberations on whether she was, being Armenian, a member of the ‘less fun, repressed diaspora,’ was an ingenious reversal of the clichéd use of Judaism in comedy. And then effortlessly slipping into a Welsh-accented impression of her mother’s ineptitude with Sky TV just contributed to her evident versatility.
To top it off, she improvised a song backstage within minutes from the ‘cucumber’, ‘bucket’, and ‘toleration’ offered as cues from the audience. The ukulele-accompanied love story of ‘a vegetable and receptacle’ was a highlight of the night. From the US election to the biscuits in her bra, Siân Docksey blew me away.
‘My mum is here to see me perform for the first time, and I’m about to slag her off’. Such was the fearlessness and confidence of Zoë Tomalin. Her set was remarkably original, including illustrations of ‘Benedict Cucumberbatch’ (as random as it sounds) and discussions of the relative pros and cons of the codification of paint-colours.
Brushing ‘the proverbial cunt under the carpet,’ various guys in front of me seemed to squirm and wriggle in their seats. But this simply epitomised the control this pint-sized, pink-cladded comic had over everyone in the audience. If I’ve ever seen someone who screams impending fame, its Zoë Tomalin.
By comparison, the boys struggled. Ian Sampson opened his set saying that ‘my love life has been bumpy and confusing, much like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s face.’ My surprise at this comparison, and subsequent realisation of its aptness, detracted from the overdone ‘I am a male comic and I’m bad with women’ routine.
As did his delivery, which was excellent, transforming innocuous lines into real belly-laughs. But Sampson couldn’t escape the unoriginal framework of his set, which relied too heavily on self-deprecation – especially when sandwiched between these two remarkably talented women.
I was worried about Ken Cheng. All I had seen was his alter-ego Mark Liu on youtube, and I thought he would similarly rely on the ‘I’m crap with women’ card.
But, far from the awkward shyness of Mark Liu, Ken Cheng felt possibly the most natural on the stage of all. And, for sure, his comedy was more organised, with jokes that resurfaced and self-referred, in what was a truly professional set.
However, Cheng suffered when his routine turned into a bit of a half-baked psuedo-philosophy on the significance of words and their relationship to political thought. What he said simply wasn’t meaningful enough to justify the lulls in comedy. Though his jokes were easily of a high enough quality to rescue him, he kept returning to these mellow, repetitive and ill thought through musings on political correctness, and his set began to drag.
Then, ending awkwardly on justifying the name of the show, Ken Kardashian, his set fell flat, which didn’t do justice to the preceding routine.
But, genuinely, for a second, I thought Kim Kardashian was actually going to strut onto the stage.
That is how surprising and unexpected this show was, and how much it really was all about the girls.