The Newnham College Smoker: On fire
MOLLY O’CONNER spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the Newnham College Smoker
Newnham College Smoker bills itself as a feminist themed comedy night with a healthy mixture of talented women and Gender Studies students making up the running order for the evening.
Clearly Cambridge students were crying out for this sort of thing, as Newham’s bar was packed out with students eager to get their dose of gender inclusive comedy.
Comedians due to appear included headliner Kate Smurthwaite, known for her appearances on Question Time and the Comedy Club, along with well-known Cambridge based comedians such as Ted Hill and Chris Page. I went into this smoker with my expectations high, and yet such was the quality of the acts that it still managed to exceed them.
The smoker began with Ted Hill’s self-deprecating humour and his own particular brand of audience interaction. By the time he was finished with his set peppered with visual gags and improv, the audience were thoroughly warmed up and as MC he ensured smooth transitions between the acts throughout the night.
The first of the acts to the stage was the dryly funny Joe Frost, whose subtle wit mixed with strong puns had the audience in stitches. His routine on ways to help yourself give up smoking was one of the highlights of the evening and I sincerely hope to see this Norwich comedian make a return to Cambridge some time in the near future. Following him was Callie Vandewiele whose sincerity of delivery and consistently funny material made her a delight to watch.
Especially impressive was Rosie Dent-Brown, who had such confidence and stage presence while delivering her hilarious and polished routine on the perils of living with the reputation of being ‘The Japanese Porn Girl’. This first-timer is certainly one to keep an eye out for at future smokers.
Chris Page delivered a slick routine that was a well-judged mixture of audience based improvisation and pre-prepared jokes. His routine on the names of death metal bands had the audience laughing uproariously. He was unquestionably the most polished performer of the evening.
Carrieanne Guthrie was memorable, winning the audience over the moment she came onto the stage wielding a guitar and her unaffected style of American ‘red-neck’ humour. My only wish was that she one could have gone on longer.
Headliner Kate Smurthwaite was everything this smoker promised to deliver: she was intelligent, unabashedly feminist and so hilarious that those around me we nearly falling out of their seats laughing. The self-described “cunt-rolling patriarchy smasher” dealt with issues in her set ranging from Daily Mail articles to dealing with people who refuse to identify as a feminist but say they’re ‘all for equality’. She did so with with such a relaxed attitude and in such a funny way it was hard to believe she was talking about her own experience of receiving twitter death threats. It was deeply refreshing to have the female experience dealt with by such a talented comic.
This was without a doubt the best smoker I have ever attended in Cambridge and and if you were unlucky enough to miss this one I encourage you not to miss the next. If this quality continues, Newnham will become a very popular venue for comedy in the future.
This smoker genuinely deserves the 84% I’m giving it: a starred first.