Review: Carpet Diem!

Isabel Adomakoh Young 21 May 2013

ADC Theatre, Thursday 16th May , 11pm

In the wake of their successful Lent Term show, Bubblegum Party, Sian Docksey and Zoe Tomalin faced high expectations for their one-off comedy night, and they certainly delivered. A truly bizarre but hilarious opening powerpoint about flying carpets, to a soundtrack of Nicki Minaj’s Starships, raised energy levels in what was already an enthusiastic crowd.

Consisting of sparkling guest comics, surreal twists and improbable carpet puns, the show was a madcap romp through a mystical world in which ‘Carpet Kingdom’ sponsors two young comics to sell carpet to a room full of baffled but giggling ADC regulars, a foul-mouthed peach is a fire risk, and Sian dances ballet holding a swan on a stick. As ever, our two hosts combined a masterful way with words (I think we all learned a valuable lesson in their discussion of the pros and cons of ‘carpetalism’ as discussed in ‘Das Carpetal’) and topical humour.

Though Sian and Zoe’s comedy might be better suited to a full-length solo gig, allowing us to keep track of the interweavings of their recurring jokes and penchant for self-reference (‘it’s definitely not a made-up conceit’), it is hard to fault a show where the guest sets were also consistently great. Adrian Grey’s brilliantly original and often daring one-liners were a particular hit, simultaneously eliciting spontaneous applause and horrified gasps. My personal favourite was about his ethnic minority friend; ‘he doesn’t like to be called black, he prefers Andrew’. Though Adrian didn’t leave out disability, obscenity or third world poverty in his short set, he did it all combining a total lack of vitriol, a talent for wordplay and a disconcerting ability to circumvent expectation which won everyone over.

Oliver Marsh, also producer, gave us the most comically mature set, structured loosely around the stains on his carpet. Though a few poorly worked-in puns went down less well, tales of his adventures as a youth in search of alcohol certainly struck a chord, as did a bold moment of audience interaction (poor Millie’s exams really won’t seem so bad now after that hug he gave her); it was a solid farewell to his ADC career as his finals draw near.

The star line of the night came from James William Wilkinson who reminded us, having pointed out his far-from-visible leg braces, that ‘being a disabled comic is a lot like being a black comic, or a lesbian comic in that… you’re a comic’ to raucous applause. He took us on a whistlestop tour of disabled loos ‘which of course you’ll never have been in’, compliments he receives for his ‘cool boots’ from hipsters and the risks of challenging people occupying disabled parking spaces.

As a fundraiser for homeless charity FLACK, Carpet Diem! far outstripped its context, reaching moments of very high-quality hilarity, and the buoyant mood in the bar afterwards showed that the five comics had successfully, if briefly, lifted Cambridge out of exam-term blues.

Isabel Adomakoh Young