Review: Corpus Smoker

Phil Child 21 November 2011

Corpus Smoker

Corpus Playroom, Mon 14th Nov, 9.30pm

As a newcomer to Cambridge, I came as a stranger to the final Smoker of Michaelmas term, not really knowing what to expect. Luckily, any lingering doubts were swept away by a series of decent performances, featuring amongst others the talents of the University of East Anglia’s resident comedic troupe, the Headlights.

The evening’s host was Pierre Novellie – having witnessed the antics of this particular gentlemen at Union last week, I was prepared for an idiosyncratic blend of off-beat humour and plain oddity. Novellie did not disappoint, handing out a range of “increasingly irrelevant” prizes, including a multipack of Penguins and a pack of batteries. The audience was also treated to a lengthy anecdote based on his secret shame of eating Domino’s pizzas after nights out (“Like a one night stand – but with cheese”) and progressively disturbing attempts to dispose of the evidence before his housemates found out.

The first act proper was the Footlights’ Adam Lawrence, who fired through a series of anecdotal jokes running on a common theme of Apple products. Witty and engaging, I particularly enjoyed Lawrence’s opening complaint that he couldn’t contact Steve Jobs about problems with IO5. Due to the fact he’s dead.

Next up was the first of the guest acts in the personage of Al Jones from UEA, who offered up his brand of “anarchic rural comedy” to the floor. Focussing primarily on his penchant for bird watching, Jones managed to keep a strong presence, despite some truly appalling puns. A highlight was a well-acted episode on Jones’ spot of a couple shagging whilst out bird watching and his subsequent attempts to escape.

A slightly different sort of act bounded up next in the form of Carl Scutt, a magician as well as comedian. His spell was not the most convincingly woven – a series of excruciating puns, followed by a frankly bad mathematical trick which went rather off-course due to the audience member (yours truly) selecting the ‘wrong’ number, meant his act was awkward rather than enthralling. Nonetheless, Scutt’s natural charisma and utter self-deprecation ensured his act was at least partially entertaining.

Steven Sudarna was on next, delivering a strong act of acerbic one-liners and wry observations. Most notably, Sudarna gave a painfully funny rendition of the running over of his dog whilst reversing his car, with subsequent disregard by his mother and neighbours – a highlight in an absorbing and energetic performance.

Still, it seemed that the time-honoured cliche of saving the best until last had not had its day. To finish was Louis Forte, a self-proclaimed “douche” with a guitar. Douche or not, Forte was easily the best of the evening’s acts, with a decent line in preliminary jokes prior to a Bill Bailey-esque ballad about his tragic romance with a picture of a woman on the back of a box of Cheerio’s. A raucous chorus brought to a close a solid round of comedy – a great way to spend a Monday night.

Phil Child