Review: Newnham Smoker’s Big Show!

Pippa Smith 1 December 2016

This all-female smoker was a little unpolished, but nonetheless enjoyable. Firstly, considering the equivalent Footlights shows are packed to the rafters, it would have been nice if the show had drawn a larger audience. Some of the performers seemed a little awkward in the quiet theatre and even if jokes are funny, a depleted audience will struggle to offer enough support to help nervous comedians settle into a comfortable rhythm. The stilted feel this gave many of the acts was not helped by the fact they often relied heavily on notes. That said, routines were still consistently funny, and there was a comfortable, informal feel to the show which is a rare find at comedy shows; I never felt that performers were trying to impress me with their comedy, more like they were sharing funny stories as the might do with a friend, which was refreshing.

MC, Callie Vandeweile, was warm and welcoming and her attack on serious Marxists shrewdly intelligent. Originally from America, Trump was an obvious source of comedy, but Vandeweile did well to avoid overdone jokes on the subject. In fact, all the performers worked well at drawing comedy from typical sources but offering a fresh perspective.

Miz Hashimoto’s engagement with George Orwell and his boring diary was one of the funniest moments of the night. She executed her references to the diary, and her own attempt to recreate it through listing her google search history perfectly to create a delightfully absurd moment in her routine. Other contemporary references such as WikiHow’s advice for someone trapped in a cave and her parents’ great newspaper race touched on this silliness and exhibited the same sharp talent for comic delivery.

Charlie Stokes’ energetic performance was slightly less structured than the others, but she worked well to create comedy out of her moments of distraction and diversion. There was a sincerity to her comedy which, again, is rare in the Cambridge smoker circuit. I particularly enjoyed her account of a nightmarish plane journey to New Zealand which was told with an apt comic outrage.

The final act of the night, Isa Bonachera, was undoubtedly the best. Her act was rounded into a comic persona which exposed some of the disunity in the other comedians. Absurd and outrageous one-liners provoked consecutive eruptions of laughter from the audience and Bonachera fell much more easily into an almost hypnotic listing rhythm.

The smoker was an amusing night exhibiting the wit of four very talented women, and I hope it retains its place on the ADC stage. Doubtlessly, a bigger audience, and perhaps a greater array of acts, would inject the energy needed to lift this show to the comedic heights it warrants.