Review: Footlights Smoker

Laura Misseldine 30 April 2014

Having attended previous Smokers, I was anticipating the same muscle-exercising laughter once again. However, I was left feeling that this one didn’t quite live up to the number of belly laughs as the last.

Familiar faces were welcomed and Footlights member Oliver Taylor opened by giving example of Cambridge’s Emergency Services doing their fine work as he witnessed an ambulance-car (‘not even a proper ambulance’) reversing into a stationary cyclist; an unnerving yet delightful start the show. However, after this, the opening few sketches fell a little short although the audience were keen to find their laughs where they could.

The show didn’t start to gain momentum until the more topical and political sketches appeared, but Adrian Gray's ‘Broken Britain’, had me laughing into my Dictaphone. Sat in the centre of the stage, dressed in a grey Puma T-shirt and Nike trainers, he read his third letter to David Cameron, ‘taking special measure to be more professional…by using spell check’. Genuine laughter was afforded to this brilliantly written sketch.

The second half of the show really took off and particular mention goes to Ben Smith, a fresher in his debut performance at the ADC. His more awkward jokes fell on deaf ears but a forgiving audience appreciated his efforts, especially towards the end of his skit.

The ‘Bus pass’ guitar ditties channelled Flight of The Concords, in ironic and anti-tory melodies but my favourites of the night have to be awarded to:

  1. Alex MacKeith's ‘Engles the Nerd’,
  2. Luke Sumner's ‘Championship Winner Andy Murry’
  3. James Bloor's ‘Merry Berry’. 

The first of these sketches gave us the self-proclaimed ‘Engles the Nerd’ waiting in-line to meet Tom Hiddleston at Comic-Con, reading out loud from a film script he’d written, consisting mainly of explicit sci-fi sexual fantasies. MacKeith's nerdy American accent was exaggerated perfectly and the completely understandable corsping of the cast only added to the mirth, especially to the delight of the couple sat in front of me…

The real winner, and savoured by all, was the Andy Murray sketch. The monotone Scottish accents of both Andy and his mother Judy were spot-on and worked brilliantly; the clever weaving together of lines from Murray’s sponsorship adverts with tennis terminology added a great depth to the humour. The entrance of another Murray led to real battle of wits with verbal shots flying across the stage. The ‘back handed compliments’ shared by these two and the physical height difference between the two clones had me still laughing on the way home.

Finally, a weathered and Miss Haverhsam-esque Mary Berry closed the show. Walking in from the auditorium to the sound of a thunderstorm, dressed in ripped bin liners and opening with a cackle, the sketch played on Mary’s preparations for concocting ‘Mary Berry’s Very Many Merry Berry Pie’, a pie that mainly expanded on the berries and dispensed with the pastry. It was excellently delivered, completely deadpan despite the tongue twister lines throughout; the elocution of such a collection of words was clearly admired by all.

Overall, some really great comedy despite a few weak links.