The Pin and Adam Lawrence Share an Hour

“I laughed more than I have in any other Cambridge sketch show”. But, sadly, not consistently, writes NANCY NAPPER CANTER.

Adam Lawrence alex owens Ben Ashenden Mark Fiddaman the pin and adam lawrence share an hour

ADC, Tuesday 13th November, 11pm, £5/6

I don’t often relax enough to laugh during Cambridge sketch shows. The onslaught of wit leaves me too busy trying to appreciate each nuance, too busy trying to keep up; too busy to laugh. But in several of the sketches of The Pin, I laughed. In fact, I laughed more than I have in any other Cambridge sketch show. It was fantastic. And it also made me all the more self-conscious when I wasn’t laughing.

Ben Ashenden, Mark Fiddaman and Alex Owen work well in any combination. Alex Owen excelled at physical comedy in particular; notably as a Shakespearean fool whose lewd knavery went far too far, and as an early twentieth century father who persistently spat tea in amazement at breakfast. Mark Fiddaman stood out in a sketch involving all three as Danny Dorritos advertising the website, ‘’, and Ben Ashenden’s spell as a King Soloman with distintctly David-Brent-eque faux-modesty was also excellent.

Things got really excellent, though, in an exam room sketch. As a lonely invigilator, Ashenden’s persistent nothing comments – ‘good luck’, or, ‘answers on the question paper… and neat’ – eventually provoked one of the frustrated candidates to ask whether they could do the paper in silence. The reply – ‘you’ve got to do it in silence’ – was all the more effective because his gentle delivery made it strangely realistic. Funnier still was the second half of the sketch, during which the invigilator attempted to obscure the fact that he was making himself a cocktail by coughing. Even if the final visual punchline wasn’t as strong as the preceding jokes, this sketch fully deserved the whooping it provoked. From the short, repeated cough that coincided with the plop of each ice cube, to the full-blown choking as Ashenden shook the finished cocktail, I was laughing without thinking.

Adam Lawrence’s act, on the other hand, had me thinking without laughing. This wasn’t because he lacked talent. First as a backstage prop worker, then as an actor onstage, Larewnce had to perform all the characters in a play, and Lawerence managed the character-hopping with panache. Lots of the writing, too, was effective – the line, ‘I don’t have time for slimy frogs like you, you slimy frog who I don’t have time for’ sticks in my mind. But, after the blissful respite from overly nuanced comedy in the first half, I was particularly aware that for the majority of the time, I wasn’t enjoying it. The climaxing joke – in which a speech about a ring is clumsily adapted to centre on an egg – did crack me up, but this was the only time in the half hour Lawrence was onstage that I really relaxed. The premise of the joke was just too try-hard, too think-hard. It made me nostalgic for the first half.

Not that the first half was perfect. Meta has become such a staple of Cambridge comedy that jokes like, ‘first, a blackout’’, or, ‘that one just sorta peters out’ didn’t have much of an impact, and there was more than one disappointing punchline. At its best, however, the Pin provoked the sort of unselfconscious, uncontrollable laughter that reminded me why comedy exists. The night was worthwhile for those moments.