Far Too Happy
Written by the cast and directors
Cambridge, Edinburgh, National Tour & West End
May – October 2001
Nominated for the 2001 Perrier Comedy Award (Best Newcomer)
Directed by Phillip Breen and Owen Powell
Designed by Nell Boase
by Stefan Golaszewski
The title says it all. For too long comedy has been too happy. Footlights have realised it is much funnier to laugh at misfortunes than punchlines. In contrast to the corduroy-clad comedy of the Spring Revue Happy Salad, which treated experimentation like leprosy, Far Too Happy paws at the boundaries and sniffs at the dangerous stuff. Throughout there is an underlying theatricality a sense that this is a serious piece of drama where the words and situations just happen to be funny. This is the game comedy should be playing.
The best example of this shift is Tim Key's bloke-in-the-pub character. He verges on the precarious brink of comic genius, yet there are no obvious punchlines, no curiously inverted situation jokes. Were this not billed as a comedy show one might not realise it is meant to be funny. But the truth of the acting and the writing gives a belief in the character that makes him tragic but entirely funny.
It would be quite easy to make a great tragedy out of a man who shags his mum and kills his dad. It would be equally be easy to make a black comedy out of it. This blurring of comedy, reality and tragedy can also be seen in Mark Watson's 'Death', turning the mundane to comedy with the twist of a word. He weaves the strangest verbal webs yet the truth of the situation never fails. It is this belief in the reality of the situation that is crucial to the comedy and is great credit to the excellent cast and the clear directing that it almost entirely works.
This is the future. No straw boaters. No stripey blazers. No fake beards. Footlights despite your preconceptions are funny again. This show will establish
by Stephanie Merritt
Far Too Happy is the latest offering by the renascent Cambridge Footlights, and is a low-key, funny, unpretentious look at life in an ordinary British street one evening, full of fighting couples, pathetic teenagers and a Welsh, latently homosexual Grim Reaper. The best scene is deeply familiar: six people dancing in a nineties-retro club, each separating themselves from the crowd and looking at the audience as the screen behind reveals their thoughts: disillusioned, anxious or gormlessly ecstatic.
James Morris, Day Macaskill. Photo © Pete Le May
Return to top