It’s time to get Friki up at Corpus Playroom

ADC Cambridge Comedy Corpus Playroom friki isa bonachera standup student comedy student theatre Theatre

Friki is billed as a sketch show in which you will discover ‘how long you can endure a Spanish accent.’

In all honesty, Isa Bonachera’s hour of stand-up was hindered somewhat by aforementioned accent: during some jokes, especially during moments of audience laughter, it was difficult to understand exactly what she was saying. But this actually contributes to her brand of fresh, spontaneous humour. She owns the accent, and she makes it work for her. Friki is her first full hour comedy special – all profits from which are being donated to the Against Malaria Foundation – and she pulled it off in style.

Bonachera is a PhD student studying Physics, a fact that she relies on heavily in her material, and this makes her very well-suited to a Cambridge audience; we fellow students can empathise with her lamentations on the hellhole that is Spoons (or if not empathise at least appreciate, because Spoons is amazing), or the pitfalls of a well-crafted Tinder profile. Although her humour can be self-deprecating, she uses just the right amount of insult and jocularity to create a friendly, interactive atmosphere. Testament to this is the fact that despite using notes on stage and referring to them often to remind herself of material, I found this more endearing than unprofessional. Bonachera says, straight up, ‘if you want professional you’ve come to the wrong place’, and this unabashed dismissal of slick comedy allowed the audience to unwind and embrace the pure silliness of her act: discussing the disadvantages of the cabbage soup diet (death), or the resentment against the concept of time that comes from learning to read an analogue watch.

However, her animations of various objects (such as a brain and an insect), although humorous as a concept, fell flat when punctuating the performance in that their squeaky voices proved more difficult to decipher than Bonachera herself. Technical difficulties also didn’t help as she had to provide a voiceover herself, meaning that this ‘respite’ from the comedy didn’t really work. This of course added to the sense of the routine being unrehearsed and improvised, and yet paradoxically it all contributed to the sense of being amongst friends instead of at a formal show; the set aided this, with just a few simple pieces of furniture purposed well to create the sense of an evening soirée.

The humour in Bonachera’s comedy stems largely from her ability not to take herself too seriously: she’s fully aware of the lack of slickness which separates her from the realm of the traditional professional, and it is this awareness and endearing informality (bouncing around when she’d forgotten the next step in the routine, humming as she read through her notes) which allows the audience to connect with her and her individual style.

Isa Bonachera

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Bonachera’s evening of comedy, and she should be given special credit for her unflagging energy throughout the whole performance despite the immense heat of Corpus Playroom (my friend and I were reduced to pouring water on ourselves to prevent us from melting into the Corpus sofa-benches).

Bonachera’s Friki is a little off-piste, and that works for her; it captivates and is consistently entertaining. I would thoroughly recommend seeing any of her future work.

4/5 stars