Corpus Smoker

ELLIE WARR is in safe hands for her first night of comedy at the Corpus Smoker.

Alex MacKeith Ben Pope Corpus Playroom Ken Cheng Smoker

Corpus Playroom, Monday 21st October, 9.30pm, £6/5

Prior to last night, I had heard a lot about the Corpus theatre. Now, having seen a show there, I can confirm that the rumours are true – the theatre is indeed mind-blowingly L-shaped. This set up means that there is nowhere to hide, and there is no form of performance more exposing than stand-up comedy. Armed with only a microphone and several examples of excellent knitwear, these brave comedians were sent forth to face the hordes.

We must bear in mind that this is not  ‘Live at the Apollo’. There was no front row of minor celebrities, no egotistical host. Yet one expects rather a lot from the Cambridge comedy scene, and fortunately this show did not disappoint. There were six ‘funnies’, with pithy compere Ben Pope bursting onto stage between each with such nervous energy that it was almost a shame to see him scamper away. The tempo was swift, varying slightly with each comedian’s delivery, with a good mix of ‘bits’, one-liners and anecdotes.

The general recipe was familiar: generous lashings of self-depreciation mixed with tart observational quips, with a faint after-taste of bewildered dismay at the oddities of modern life. But it worked; they were very funny. Highlights included Adrian Gray’s critique of the implausibility of Busted lyrics and the dangers of wearing misleading slogan t-shirts, as well as Jamie Fraser’s comments on the aimlessly stylish of Shoreditch.

Explorations of the curious behaviour of that eternal source of mirth, The Foreigner, and the equally curious behaviour of social media users went down very well with the audience. The lampooning of day-time TV was hilarious, as were the tales of the terrorist group with a perilously euphemistic acronym. The one exception to the popular observe/comment formula, was the well-placed set of Alex MacKeith (or ‘Sixth Sense Guy’ as I heard him coined) whose brilliantly absurd and ironic dramatic piece turned the anecdotal format on its head.

Rarely a moment passed without the accolade of laughter, though at times the audience seemed a little tentative. By the last act the energy seemed to have lulled to the point that perhaps Ken Cheng’s musings on the social perils of being a sex-offender did not quite receive the response they deserved. The show perhaps had one act too many – although a little more variety would have been beneficial, in style and certainly in gender.

If you’ve ever heard of Indiana Jones, been tempted to take love-life advice from a search engine or thought twice about sending that Snapchat selfie, the Corpus Smoker is for you. An evening of merriment and originality, it is well worth your fiver.