Review: Non-Smoker: A Stand-Up Show

Laura Peatman 11 May 2012

Non-Smoker: A Stand-Up Show

ADC Lateshow, 11pm, until Sat 12th May


I’m not sure there’s been a review this term which hasn’t mentioned how theatre is an awesome break from revision… Well I apologise if this repetitive strain is starting to bore you, but I really can’t think of a better way to escape the library this week. The ‘Non-Smoker’ features the cream of a very fine crop of Cambridge’s funny men and provided the best night of comedy I have seen for some time. The material was for the most part strong and well-rehearsed, without becoming automatous, with a healthy pinch of audience participation. An enthusiastic ADC audience lapped it up.

Footlights Ali Lewis, Ahir Shah and compere Pierre Novellie make up the meat of this show, with a guest star each night filling the central slot. This makes it a little tricky to review – I can rave about Lowell Belfield’s performance last night, but unless you were there then I’m afraid you’ve missed out. Never fear however, I’m sure Jamie Mathieson, Matilda Wnek and Jonny Lenard will provide just as many laughs – which will have to be a lot; Belfield was on hilarious form, although his set seemed a little short. His gangly awkwardness and habit of glancing sideways at the floor ostensibly make him an unlikely stand-up; but, like a ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ audition that you think will be terrible but turns out to be brilliant, Belfield soon proves you wrong. His anecdotal tales of hoovering his hair and attempting to be helpful to misinterpreting car drivers had the audience in fits of giggles, and somehow even moments of awkwardness with the microphone seemed funny.

As for the central comedians – overall it was a hilarious and impressive display. Ali Lewis’ set got off to a slightly shaky start, and at moments threatened to swerve from entertaining into cringe-worthy, seemingly dividing the audience. His delivery was a little nervous, shuffling from side-to-side, but to his credit this was a well-structured set which grew stronger as he eased into the routine and there were some moments of real delight, the ‘Banter Owl’ being a personal favourite. Headliner and “ginormous ladzilla” Ahir Shah gave a fluid and self-assured performance, maintaining an intelligent balance between satire and silliness in a set covering race, religion, politics, some jokes “for the lads” and Pokemon. Shah’s energy and enjoyment shone through as he confidently delivered what was at times a very wordy routine with both fluency and pure comic brilliance. A real natural on stage, he managed be to eloquent, sharp, touching and downright rude all at the same time, and this irrepressibly funny set demonstrates how much he has grown as a comic since I first saw him perform in Cambridge.

However, much has he had us applauding and whooping for the others, it was Pierre Novellie who narrowly stole the show. His interaction with the audience was, as always, the catalyst behind a hugely enjoyable night, and the success of the ‘Team Switzerland’ gag seemed to surprise even him (I don’t want to give too much away – if you’re curious, buy a ticket!). His solo material was belly-achingly and eye-wateringly funny, throwing us into hysterics at his analysis of the ‘Sims’ game and demonstrating what joy can be found in exquisite phrases such as ‘a lighthouse in a sea of twatery’.

All in all, the ‘Non-Smoker’ is a hilarious evening’s entertainment and only a twinkle away from a 5-star show. So when you finish reading this sentence, go and book your ticket and take the opportunity to laugh yourself silly.

Laura Peatman