REVIEW: The Footlights Virgin Smoker

‘They didn’t make nearly as many virgin jokes as I was expecting’

ADC Cambridge Cambridge University Comedy Footlights Smokers

The Virgin Footlights Smoker began, as the new committee seem to like doing, with a slew of jokes between all ten as they banter away on stage.

It’s a fairly static scene, but I feel that if they continue to use it, it could be adapted, as was done excellently at the end of last term by utilising a battle to move the dialogue along. With all due credit, they didn’t make nearly as many virgin jokes as I was expecting, pausing only to ridicule one or two members of the committee before letting the rookies take over.

Take over they did, and we were treated to a series of excellent sketch comedians and a wide variety of stand-up, which has dwindled on the Footlights stage over the last year, although its hard to say whether this is necessarily a bad thing. As is largely to be expected, the performances were very hit and miss, although many of the factors that went into the bad performances were probably more down to a lack of experience than anything else.

The hits drew laugh after laugh; from very strong stand-up at the start from Leo, all the way to excellent sketch comedy, of which my particular favourite was about a man named Mark, who was holding up the British educational system with his one hand that wasn’t shackled to a desk. These were the highlights, but there were any number of other acts who could have achieved these lofty heights with a couple of simple changes. Many suffered from a great gag being drawn out far too long and slowly strangled, a couple suffered from poor staging, but they were mostly things that could be easily changed and improved.

Tough act to follow

The smoker was lengthy as well, and I felt that a lot of the sketch acts and acts with more movement and natural energy, were positioned towards the beginning of the show, which meant that acts at the end were suffering from a level of audience fatigue, through no fault of their own. Perhaps the onus here should have fallen on the Footlight’s committee to have been a bit more discerning with what material they accepted, or to limit each act to one bit. I understand that this was meant to be a fairly open show, and one designed to encourage new people to get involved in Cambridge comedy, so it is difficult to be critical here.

All of that said, the show can definitely be considered a success. The virgin Smoker is a good medium for encouraging new acts, and I certainly had a good time. I look forward to seeing some of the acts come back and try some new material, especially with the additional experience of a smoker under their belt.