Review: Footlights Smoker

Tom Bevan 13 May 2015

Maybe it’s the hours spent staring at the same increasingly familiar view from the library window; the emotional effort required in restraining the impulse to highlight everything in sight, or just a little too much coffee talking, but the Footlights Smoker on Tuesday had me laughing pretty much throughout, and not simply with the giddy joy of leaving my books to wallow in the pit of papers my desk has become.

The show kicked off with some great stand-up which reminded the audience that for many of the members this was their last show before the years of unemployment assured to any graduating arts student, establishing a sense of nostalgia to the last smoker of the year. Moving into its usual eclectic mix of bizarre humour ranging from a very relevant and suitably cutting impression of Michael Gove, the difficulties of staging John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s initial meeting, and an interpretation of James Bond as a character in a video game with a glitch.

Some of the sketches were, as I heard one audience member put it, "very Cambridge", including a clinic for pedantic grammarians (which I’m sure left a few people cringing in the wake of errant apostrophe’s), and an episode entirely in French. Luckily, being able to recall the French for ‘dead’, I was able to follow this scene, even if it did come as a shock, recalling that sense of disorientation at the beginning of any GCSE French lesson when you realise you might have to concentrate more than you’d thought.

The smoker offered clever comedy as seen in an alternative rendition of Julius Caesar’s death which took its time in properly attributing the famous Roman’s death to Brutus’ desire for….a second chocolate, seeing Caesar savagely murdered because Brutus ate two. I was particularly struck, however, by the not-so-Secret Millionaire sketch, which  pushed snobbery to its limits and had the audience in stitches, as the delivery driver turned up his hood to scatter coins all over the stage. Closing with a Pied Piper who had the whole cast running across the stage, the show was a suitably fitting end to another year of Footlights fun.