Review: Sticky Floor Smoker

EMILY MARR is surprised and entertained by an evening of comedy that showed Cambridge still has it.

backstabs friend but yolo flanders and swann have osme madeira Pembroke Smoker

Pembroke’s Sticky Floor Smoker, a cocktail of stand-up, sketch and song, was an evening of first-class comedy.

The Smoker showcased the remarkable calibre of the Cambridge comedy scene. A few weeks back, I fell out, temporarily, with a close friend over my review of Beauty Spots  – a stand-up show at Corpus, which she felt was undeserving of the glowing praise I gave it. Now, this friend in question is what I call a ‘purist thesp’, preferring ‘high drama’ to the kind of light comedy showcased in productions like Beauty Spots and the Sticky Floor Smoker.

But hold on: Cambridge is the home of the original Footlights. Light comedy is our birthright. Would Britain have been worse off or better off, without the Pythons, the wonderful Emma Thomson, Hugh and Laurie, and so many others who broke through at Cambridge first? It’s hardly a question, is it? Comedy is not only the most difficult thing to get right, but it also explodes when done well. The overall quality of the acts in the Smoker was excellent, with some acts in particular displaying rare and remarkable talent in both content and delivery.

Will Dalrymple and Jamie Fenton’s musical delights were the highlight of the evening. The duo opened the show with a witty number about the difficulty of being ‘politically correct’ at Cambridge, with lyrics including;

‘There’s politically correct and there’s politically Cambridge,                        

Tell a girl to get home safe? Well you just victim blamebridged.’

A modern Flanders and Swann, the talented pair returned, this time in character, to kick off act two. Again, witty and piquant lyrics were delivered with flair, the audience was once more won over.

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Basically these guys

The other real stand out act of the evening was Ken Cheng, the mathmo whose performance was not only wildly entertaining, but also proved that the domination of the arts subjects in student theatre is a thing of the past. His application of physics – and indeed common sense – to everyday metaphors, had me seriously doubting my degree.

I can’t think of another example of somebody using hard science for comic effect like this. Cheng’s directness was a breath of fresh air. Who wouldn’t be entertained by lines such as “I don’t know how sexual attraction works but I do know projectile physics”?

Other noteworthy acts included Lily Lindon, whose remarks on being a reluctant member of the world of the S-H-G (short-haired girl) were nothing if not creative; “It’s like being the Neville of Dumbledore’s Army”(although any Cantab will know that a Harry Potter reference will rarely fall on unwelcome ears). Haydn Jenkins and Aurélien Guerolt also worked this angle, delivering a short but sweet Harry Potter sketch.

Both returned, separately in the second half, with Jenkins, who is unnervingly reminiscent of a slim-line Michael McIntyre, performing particularly well.  Ted Hill was also a laugh-a-minute act. His amended immigration quiz may have been pretty un-PC, but it was incredibly funny.

The Sticky Floor Smoker was a truly fantastic night of comedy, and exceeded expectations.  Sorry, my “purist thesp” friend. Great sketches triumph again!