REVIEW: Newnham Smoker

Robyn Bellinger had a blast at this feel-good smoker.

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Newnham Smoker, Cambridge’s only dedicated feminist comedy night, did not disappoint.

Despite a slightly rocky start with the headliner cancelling two days before the performance, the organisers managed to turn it around wonderfully so the audience weren’t left feeling like they were missing out. The eclectic range of topics covered by the comedians meant that there was something for everyone to enjoy. One thing that they all agreed on though: Cambridge is not a place from ‘Harry Potter’ (although let’s not kid ourselves, it’s the best we’re going to get).

Packed to the rafters (Photo Credit: Lian Wilkinson

The audience interaction employed by Callie Vandewiele was first-class; her tongue in cheek manner of addressing cultural differences (British people are decidedly less apt at cheering than their American and Australian counterparts) left the audience feeling very involved, and her spontaneous reactions to the audience’s comments were well-timed. Not only this, she was great at bringing the piece together as a whole- and her anecdotes left much of the audience in hysterics.

Newnham’s own Mattie Weschler left the audience with a feeling of Schadenfreude whilst describing her disastrous first date with someone met through a dating app- being able to relate to this story varied based on the amount of (or lack of) experience that you had in the online dating world. One thing that was constant, however, was the laughter- everyone fully enjoyed it and was left wishing for a date consisting of a puppy and toothpaste (yes, you read that correctly).

Performer Mattie Wechsler (Photo Credit: Lian Wilkinson)

Another crowd favourite was Richard Perez Storey who, despite having been a student of Cambridge in the past, now goes to ‘the other place’. I have to give him credit, however, because he actually managed to make science funny – no mean feat! A person favourite was definitely “Well, we all know what PhD stands for… ‘Postponing hard decisions’!” Another long-haired legend was “hippy Jesus” AKA Chris Waugh who left the audience in hysterics with his recounting of the infamous Brad Taylor. Haven’t heard of him? You’re missing out on some good laughs. Here Waugh took the well-known saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” and gave it a whole new meaning!

Performer Chris Waugh (Photo Credit: Lian Wilkinson

Finally, the headliner Gráinne Maguire was stunning. Her set ranged from haut couture literature (Charles Dickens- who, to her dismay, ‘will never discover that he wrote ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’’) to politics (Angela Merkel made a very prominent appearance here, with much reference to her pantsuit and the fact that she looks like ‘a hung-over Hilary Clinton’). She also commented on nightclubs and their ability to provide happiness (and anyone who has been to ‘certain clubs’ in Cambridge will probably agree!)

Headliner Grainne Maguire (Photo Credit: Lian Wilkinson)

I have to point out that all of the comedians were truly fantastic, despite varying levels of experience, and the whole night was for a very good cause- raising money for Amnesty International. Well done to everyone involved.

4/5 stars