For those who enjoy chuckling uncontrollably, naturally excluding dangerous maniacs, Pembroke is an absolutely smashing place to be. A whole host of illustrious clowns used to call Pembroke home – Peter Cook; Eric Idle; two thirds of The Goodies; Clive James; not to mention Jonny Sweet, winner of 2009’s Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer – and for over half a century folk have flocked to the college to see funny people performing at our comedy nights (or “smokers”, as they tend be called, for reasons absolutely nobody is aware of).
For the last few years our calendar has kicked off with the Sticky Floor Smoker in the New Cellars, so-called because the floor of the Cellars is – as popular opinion apparently had it at some point – somewhat sticky. I don’t think it’s sticky at all. But putting that aside it’s always a rollicking fine evening, usually attended by goodly hordes of Freshers, where the University’s finest stand-ups and sketch acts share a bill with comedy debutants and home-grown Pembroke heroes. Meanwhile the infamous Pembroke Pantomime is getting underway, written, directed and produced entirely by first-years. It rounds off the term in traditional fashion with a fizz-banging festive hour of unsubtle willy references, outrageous Peterhouse-baiting, men dressed as crocodiles, and the inevitably awful mass-rendition of “I’m Loving Pembroke Instead”.
In Lent Term the big event is the Black Tie Smoker, a very swanky and rather well-dressed affair that takes place in the Old Library. Champagne and canapés on entrance; ambience courtesy of one of Pembroke’s resident harpists; all capped with a splendid evening of comedy, with a £50 prize for the audience’s favourite act. First come, first served! Since Lent 2008 the Black Tie Smoker has been followed later in the term by a comedy night in aid of charity: this year we are proud to be supporting CUSAFE, the Cambridge University Southern African Fund for Education.
Easter Term is the time everybody is quailing in the looming shadow of their exams, but help is always at hand with the Golden Gods Smoker, where bleary-eyed students may drag their sorely aching brains away from revision for an hour or two to forget everything and drown their sorrows in a cracking night of stand-up comedy. And when the annual clouds of academic doom are finally dispelled and exams are done with, the PP Garden Party in May Week always provides the appropriate gallons of celebratory Pimms, together with performances from a few of Pembroke’s favourite comedians outside on the grass. In the lovely sunshine. Always in the lovely sunshine.