Footlights Smoker

OJ WATSON feels that… darn it was a mixed bag, but the fresh new marbles shone bright!

Alex MacKeith Comedy domios Footlights mary berry Smoker tom hissleston

ADC Theatre, 11 PM, April 29th, £7/6.

Have a go at me, but this smoker was mixed – a variegated receptacle if you will. If marking the smoker was like marking a maths paper, where each 20% gains you a star, then this certainly was a 3 star review. The majority of sketches were enjoyable, but the night overall didn’t leave a feeling of true success.

Many also left feeling that the smoker had dragged on purely to facilitate the chance for certain members of the footlights to showcase and trial new sketches, but despite this it was refreshing to see some new faces to the smoker scene who punctuated the night perfectly.

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The current Footlights committee

In a night of stand up, sketches, monologues and fleeting puns it was the stand up sets that felt lacking, apart from perhaps the opening set from footlights member Oliver Taylor; treading the line perfectly with his reflections on emergency service members often featuring as criminals in order to give themselves something to do.

The stand ups perhaps were just those few extra acts that tipped the night into becoming too long, but credit to newcomer Ben Smith who fought through some early jitters and left us with an anecdote about the misfortune of trying to seem the stud in reference to the opening scenes of a “No Means No” campaign video that appealed to the slightly sicker-minded audience amongst us.

The sketches performed were undoubtedly the highlight of the night, and were justly well received all round. Tom Fraser’s cryptic-truth saying murder suspect was superb, and Alex MacKeith and Luke Sumner‘s impersonations of Andy Murray in a world where he has somehow been duplicated were fantastic – perhaps an easy target for his dour persona, but nevertheless was brilliant.

Mention must also go to another pair of newcomers in the form of Thomas Fairbairn and Robert Oldham, who excellently mused at what exactly happens within Dominos Pizza’s “Stage 4 – Quality Control” waiting period; theories of an almost jedi-like training process that must be endured to ensure that the base of the pizza resonates at the right frequency in response to a high pitched whistle before being allowed to receive the “holy trinity” that is the small plastic tripod that sits on top of the pizza.

Alex MacKeith deserves further mention for his representation of a stereotypical “geek” waiting at ComicCon to meet Loki/Tom Hiddleston; managing to sustain a 3 minute monologue along a fairly simple joke. Other noteworthy solo performances included Cat Stirling and her banana, and Adrian Gray’s open letter to David Cameron concerning a “Broken Britain” – a wonderfully non-PC display including arguably the the best line of the night, “Letting David Cameron run Britain is like letting a donkey be sucked off… by David Cameron” – a line that on paper seems somewhat simple and childish, but I assure you Adrian delivered it with a comic timing tied perfectly in with the monologue that left the audience in stitches. Lastly James Bloor must get a mention for succeeding to turn GBBO’s Mary Berry in to some form of Mary Shelley-esque halloween monstrosity – and almost exclusively by just saying words that rhymed with Berry.

Reading back the review so far has made me think that perhaps my opening words were too harsh, but then I remember the linking puns and much shorter one-liner scenes.

Usually I’m a sucker for a pun, but tonight I feel I must have missed the point with a number of the shorter scenes as often their only redeeming quality was to give the smoker a sense of turnover. My friend remarked that I was maybe not in the right frame of mind, and maybe this was true as the 3rd last scene, which went down incredibly well, made me feel somewhat unimpressed.

The concept was a sketch involving two cops who had done away with the “good-cop-bad-cop” routine to become just one fraudulent synchronised cop where they spoke in unison. A great concept for a sketch no doubt, with laughs initially coming from the cops becoming unstuck as they struggled to keep up the pretence of being in unison. But as the sketch continued it became apparent that this was becoming more a product of a lack of rehearsal, with the laughs now coming at the expense of the performers inabilities to control themselves from laughing at their own inability to remember the lines sufficiently. I apologise if I’m wrong and failed to not fall for the double bluff, but the scene reminded me that the night could have been somewhat streamlined – and that falls on the heads of the organisers of the footlights (ironically heavily involved in this last sketch…)

Apart from this gripe the night certainly was not a flop, and the Footlights should be commended for putting on an undoubtedly enjoyable night as well as hopefully inspiring a few more faces to step into the comedy scene. Congratulations.