Review: Footlights Smoker

Jethro Thompson 25 November 2011

Footlights Smoker

ADC, 22nd Nov, 11pm


Tonight’s Footlight’s Smoker was, above all, educational. We were introduced to some rare and debilitating psychological illnesses – irritable vowel syndrome among them – and we learnt the three main uses for knitting needles on a woman’s hour radio show (abortion and lesbianism were the two you may not have guessed). Will Shakespeare was about to continue the vein with his school for acting, but unfortunately Ryan O’Sullivan, playing the Bard, was interrupted and forced to explain why he had gouged the eyes from a fellow actor. It was great to see, in the deluge of quick-fire laughs that is the Smoker form, a recurring story that reappeared in different sketches.

Ali Lewis, halfway through a hilarious routine (how do the rabbits get in the headlights?), dealt very well with one of the more difficult events in the stand-up’s career: the near-death of an audience member. Phil Wang, too, had some great one-liners, including baby-eating, a favourite theme of his, but unfortunately the routine’s final snaps were a little weak. The facial expressions of Pierre Novellie once again wrested uproarious and inexplicable laughter from the audience, and his stand-up act was characteristically brilliant, just like his idea for a post-9/11 Peter Pan remake (it is true that Somalia is the only place you could plausibly find both boy soldiers and pirates). He finished with a shameless plug that worked absolutely – I’m definitely heading to see Nonsense next week. The surreal made an appearance with Lowell Belfield’s song about a swan’s unwelcome comments on art, and we indulged in our love for nationality-based laughs with Mick Campbell’s Irish routine and a pair of Glaswegians with outrageous Australian accents.

The never-predictable sketches tumbled after one another relentlessly but my favourite laugh of the night was probably one of the simplest – Ali Lewis played a son who came to chat with his dad, Pierre Novellie, about troubles in the relationship with his rent boy. Just like a true father, Pierre brought in Phil Wang, and told his son that the best solution was to start to think about the future, move up in the market and get a mortgage boy.

Jethro Thompson