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February 26, 2024, 12:03:11 PM

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Cambridge Footlights Show 1997 (Again, I know, sorry)

Started by Small Man Big Horse, February 11, 2024, 03:11:16 PM

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Small Man Big Horse

So I know there's been at least one thread about this before, which is here: https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=62472.0 and I almost just replied to that one, but I know Barry likes people to start new threads so I thought I maybe should. I'm not sure. Anyway...

I only just watched the documentary today, and thought I'd mention that I was at Anglia Polytechnic University from 1996 to 1999, and for the first year I worked behind the bar at the student union on comedy nights. To be honest I can only remember a few of the acts, two of them being Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt from before they were in the Boosh (and I really liked them, and thought both were very funny, though the only part I can remember is Fielding using the zip on his jacket as a sound effect for a sort of dj audio mix parody thing, and yeah, I'm describing this really badly) and that the Cambridge Footlights did a work in progress gig in 1997.

And the only reason I remember that is because it was the only time anything like the following happened, but they did the show in two parts, with a short ten minute interval in the middle, and in the break 90% of the audience left. I really don't think it was anything to do with the differences between the two universities, I certainly met a couple of Cambridge students who did not like Anglia students* but I never personally met anyone at Anglia who had any issues with Cambridge students, but I was behind the bar watching the whole thing and it just died on its arse, so almost everyone left (it wasn't a big room to be honest, maybe 60-70 seats?) and there was about five or six who watched the second half. In some ways it feels odd that they even bothered to continue, but I guess they thought they'd use it to at least practice the rest of the material.

The show's no longer on youtube but it is here: https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1xx411u7VG/ (about two minutes in it asks you to scan a QR code to continue watching, though I just closed the box and it let me watch the whole thing, and I'm not sure if it's a dodgy site or not as I have AdBlocker running), but anyway, it did bring back a couple of memories of bits of it, and while I didn't find the documentary that funny it is really interesting, and I thought even though I wasn't laughing Ayoade and Oliver came out of it quite well, whereas Holness really doesn't.

Anyhow, um, that's my anecdote about the whole thing. Apologies if it wasn't worth starting a new thread for.





*When my housemate Kate went clubbing early on in the first year she brought a guy home and slept with him, and the next morning he asked her what she was studying and what college did she go to, when she explained it was sociology at Anglia Polytechnic he exclaimed "You should be honoured I slept with you", got dressed and then stormed out. Though weirdly he did return that evening to apologise, and hinted he would like to stay the night again, and she told him to fuck off.

lauraxsynthesis

I read somewhere years ago - either here or on Popbitch - that Mark Watson and Richard Ayoade were in Footlights together and RA hero worshipped Watson for his comedy talent and followed him around like a puppy dog. RA is 3 years older though so may be bollocks. I can easily believe though that MW's skills would have been evident when an undergraduate.

Small Man Big Horse

#2
Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on February 11, 2024, 05:47:30 PMI read somewhere years ago - either here or on Popbitch - that Mark Watson and Richard Ayoade were in Footlights together and RA hero worshipped Watson for his comedy talent and followed him around like a puppy dog. RA is 3 years older though so may be bollocks. I can easily believe though that MW's skills would have been evident when an undergraduate.

It seems hard to tell, but I came across the below on the official Footlights site: https://www.cambridgefootlights.org/history

"In 2001, despite not being a member of the University, Tim Key joined the Footlights and befriended Mark Watson."

Which really surprised me because Mark Watson's such a cunt I didn't know any one outside of Cambridge University could apply to be in the group, I mean if I had I might have applied and right now I'd be hanging out with Ayoade and presenting some rubbish travelogue nonsense goddammit!

Also, to maybe take the thread in a different direction to the Ayoade and Holness documentary, what's the general feeling about Footlights these days? Is it seen as giving someone an unfair leg up in the industry? Or that they get to have time and a place to really hone their skills while not having to work for a living? Or does anyone not give any kind of a flying fuck about them at all?

And just because I found it interesting, here's the main cast from 2010 - 2017...

Tour Show 2017: Dream Sequence
Cast: Ruby Keane, John Tothill, Sam Knights, Ania Magliano-Wright, Henry Wilkinson.

Tour Show 2016: Lagoon
Cast: Sarah Creedy Smith, Guy Emanuel, Sam Grabiner, Jordan Mitchell, Rob Oldham.

Tour Show 2015: Love Handles
Cast: Luke Sumner, Olivia Le Andersen, Archie Henderson, Adrian Gray, Eleanor Colville.

Tour Show 2014: Real Feelings
Cast: Ryan Ammar, James Bloor, Tom Fraser, Alex MacKeith, Ben Pope.

Tour Show 2013: Canada
Cast: Matty Bradley, Matilda Wnek, Emma Sidi, Rosa Robson.

Tour Show 2012: Perfect Strangers
Cast: Emma Powell, Jason Forbes, George Potts, Phil Wang, Pierre Novellie.

Tour Show 2011: Pretty Little Panic
Cast: Mark Fiddaman, Alex Owen, Ben Ashenden, Adam Lawrence.

Tour Show 2011: Pretty Little Panic
Cast: Mark Fiddaman, Alex Owen, Ben Ashenden, Adam Lawrence.

gilbertharding

Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on February 12, 2024, 04:50:24 PMWhich really surprised me because I didn't know any one outside of Cambridge University could apply to be in the group,

I don't think, ordinarily, you can, unless you're Tim Key. I don't know about you, but I can imagine him just sort of sneaking into it, perhaps knowing that no-one would do anything as gauche as ask him what college he was at.


#edit# apparently he has admitted to actually lying about being a PhD student at Sidney Sussex... the lie was discovered eventually, but they decided he was 'in' now, so it was too late.

lipsink

Is there evidence of Mark Watson being a cunt then? I thought he seems an okay guy from what I've heard. Prepared to be proved wrong!

C_Larence

Phil Wang is the only name on that list I recognise but I refuse to believe he was the best that footlights has had to offer mainstream comedy in the past decade.

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: lipsink on February 12, 2024, 05:00:32 PMIs there evidence of Mark Watson being a cunt then? I thought he seems an okay guy from what I've heard. Prepared to be proved wrong!

No, none at all, that was just me being a cunt as I don't like him much. Sorry.

gilbertharding

I lived near Cambridge for the first 25 years of my life, and actually *in* Cambridge for the last two of those, and was always confused by this place:



Which I always thought of as the Actual Footlights Club (which I'd heard of), but was actually some kind of 'towny' bar/restaurant just outside the main entrance to the Grafton Centre. Partly as a result of this misconception, I never went in there. I suspect it wouldn't really have been somewhere I'd have gone anyway, but it's another illustration of just how naive I was at the time (or, alternatively, another example of how the class system keeps people in their lanes).


Thosworth

#8
Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on February 12, 2024, 04:50:24 PM"In 2001, despite not being a member of the University, Tim Key joined the Footlights and befriended Mark Watson."

He's discussed this on at least a couple of podcasts. He lived in Cambridge and just went to the auditions and made it in.

An eyebrow was raised when they had to all write their email addresses and amongst a column of @cantab.ac.uk addresses his was @btinternet.com ("It hasn't come through"). At one point they all came to rehearse at 'his college' and he had to take them to the practice room the location of which he had no idea.

Some time into the year a director worked it out but let him get pretty embedded into the show before saying "Tim has something to tell you all", but no one cared too much.

lauraxsynthesis

I get the impression that Watson's alright as a person, but I can't remember from what. Not impressed with him tarting himself out for cider etc of course. I should dislike him because the first time I saw him I kinda stared because I thought he was hot and he gave me a nasty look. I'd no idea he was a comedian but he must have thought I recognised him and was being creepy rather than just generally horny for big-nosed brunettes.

Olivia Colman is another one who kinda sneaked into Footlights without actually being at Cambridge University. She was at a teacher training college in the city, saw the auditions for Footlights were on and went for it. I think it was on David Tennant's podcast I heard the story.

Ken Cheng talks in Radio 4's Comedy Club Interviews about benefiting from the good comedy scene in Cambridge without being a student at all. He found it was a good place to gig because there were lots of opportunities and a receptive audience.

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: Thosworth on February 12, 2024, 05:15:47 PMHe's discussed this on at least a couple of podcasts. He lived in Cambridge and just went to the auditions and made it in.

An eyebrow was raised when they had to all write their email addresses and amongst a column of @cantab.ac.uk addresses his was @btinternet.com ("It hasn't come through"). At one point they all came to rehearse at 'his college' and he had to take them to the practice room the location of which he had no idea.

Some time into the year a director worked it out but let him get pretty embedded into the show before saying "Tim has something to tell you all", but no one cared too much.

Thanks for that, I'd not heard about it before but it's interesting to discover.

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on February 12, 2024, 05:21:17 PMI get the impression that Watson's alright as a person, but I can't remember from what. Not impressed with him tarting himself out for cider etc of course. I should dislike him because the first time I saw him I kinda stared because I thought he was hot and he gave me a nasty look. I'd no idea he was a comedian but he must have thought I recognised him and was being creepy rather than just generally horny for big-nosed brunettes.

My dislike is solely because of Taskmaster, and it wasn't like he was awful on it, I just didn't particularly find him funny.

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on February 12, 2024, 05:21:17 PMKen Cheng talks in Radio 4's Comedy Club Interviews about benefiting from the good comedy scene in Cambridge without being a student at all. He found it was a good place to gig because there were lots of opportunities and a receptive audience.

Back when I was at APU there were a fair number of venues (The Boat Race, The Junction, Arts Theatre, Corn Exchange, my student union and presumably Cambridge had a few of their own which did comedy nights, and in the summer there were some gigs on Jesus Green, and possibly other pubs that I never ventured to) but I was never aware of any open mic gigs. A housemate and I did think of trying to find out, and we did send in a video applying to work on the newly launched Cambridge cable tv channel, but just got a very polite no in response.

Otisberg

All so unbearable. Shame British comedy has been held hostage by them all for 60 years.

Minami Minegishi

Quote from: Otisberg on February 12, 2024, 06:05:54 PMAll so unbearable. Shame British comedy has been held hostage by them all for 60 years.

I think 'held hostage' is a bit much, but yes, far too much of it and I don't like most of it.

Minami Minegishi

Quote from: Phil_A on September 21, 2017, 04:01:21 PMInterestingly it seems he had a rep as a forum pain-in-the-bum from other places as well, someone mentions him posting on the Channel 4 forums under the same name.

I remember him as I was a very active member of the Channel 4 forums back in the day. Also Dom Joly was often posting, usually to defend himself.

gilbertharding

Quote from: lauraxsynthesis on February 12, 2024, 05:21:17 PMOlivia Colman is another one who kinda sneaked into Footlights without actually being at Cambridge University. She was at a teacher training college in the city, saw the auditions for Footlights were on and went for it. I think it was on David Tennant's podcast I heard the story.


Was going to 'well actually' you, and say that Homerton College is part of the University, but apparently that's only been true since 2000.

When Colman was there it was some kind of associate member (unclear how that would affect the ability of students to join societies, mind you), and had been since the mid 70s.

Andy147

Quote from: gilbertharding on February 12, 2024, 07:51:37 PMWas going to 'well actually' you, and say that Homerton College is part of the University, but apparently that's only been true since 2000.

When Colman was there it was some kind of associate member (unclear how that would affect the ability of students to join societies, mind you), and had been since the mid 70s.

Jan Ravens and Nick Hancock were both Homerton students and Footlights presidents in the 70s/80s.

lipsink

I watched Phil Wang's Netlfix special and found it really very good at all. Although I did really enjoy a short YouTube clip of him I'd seen previously) I may be willing myself to not enjoy comedy of a lot from young(ish) successful people from privileged backgrounds cos I'm a bit jealous though