Free Footlights

If there's a theme to Free Footlights, a somewhat eclectic collection of stand up bits, monologues and comedy songs from members of the Cambridge Footlights, it's a streak of self-deprecation. Despite promotional material that often peddles the Footlights' connection to some of the biggest names in British comedy history, the current crop of Footlights know that their troupe's star-studded past doesn't guarantee a successful future. In fact, between gags about useless degrees and the questionable career move of pursuing stand up comedy at all, the future seems to be weighing heavily on the minds of these young comedians.

Based on this show, they needn't worry: the diversity of acts and the strength of depth on display in Free Footlights should have other student comedy groups green with envy. Phil Wang, the multiple award winning jewel in the Footlights' crown, sets the ball rolling with his slyly subversive race humour, playing off the audience's expected prejudices to hilarious and often embarrassing effect. From this conventional stand up the Footlights breeze through a variety of genres, with graph and prop humour from Zoe Tomalin that would do Demetri Martin proud and invective filled comedy tunes from Emerald Paston. Even compere Pierre Novellie, visibly squirming in a role that requires him, in his own words, to walk a 'tightrope of mediocrity' so as not to overshadow the main acts, is an absolute pleasure to watch, interacting jovially with a crowd immediately receptive to his self-effacing charms.

All that prevents me from recommending Free Footlights completely without reservation is that the line up on show changes each day. Who's to say if the endearingly down to earth 2012 Chortle Student Comedy Award finalist Kwame Asante, labelled a 'friend of the show' but not a member of the Cambridge Footlights, will feature on a regular basis? Still, if you're willing to gamble on the show's rolling line up, you could win big with Free Footlights.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

In addition to their main show, the Cambridge Footlights present an hour of stand-up, songs and monologues in association with the Free Fringe. Come see some of the brightest young comedians around for free!

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