Getting involved in comedy at Cambridge is really easy – there's so much going on that you'll always be able to find something to be a part of! It can be hard to keep track of everything, but the three best ways are the Footlights Mailing List, the Facebook groups Cambridge Theatre and Footlights, and the website Camdram. A fourth way to keep track of what's going on is to view or subscribe to our Google calendar for Footlights-specific events.
Footlights Mailing List: This is our weekly newsletter containing information on the week's upcoming comedy performances, auditions, open mics, workshops, and other comedy-related events such as Q&A sessions. You can sign up to our mailing list here, or you can find us at Freshers' Fair! (Alternatively, if you're putting on a comedy show and would like us to include it on the mailing list, just send an email to our Secretary, Toria, at email@example.com!)
Facebook Groups: The two main Facebook groups where comedy opportunities get posted are Cambridge Theatre and Footlights. Cambridge Theatre contains opportunities for all kinds of theatre shows (drama, musicals, comedy, dance, and just about anything else you can think of!). Footlights is for comedy-specific opportunities.
Camdram: Camdram is a website that can be used to advertise vacancies for any amateur theatre show happening in Cambridge, both for student productions and non-student productions. Camdram is also used to list the cast and crew of shows, provide information on venues, theatre societies, or funding opportunities, and view the event diary of which shows are on each week.
Calendar: You can also keep track of Footlights-specific shows, workshops, and events going on using the Footlights calendar.
To view the Footlights calendar in your browser, use this link.
To subscribe to the Footlights calendar in calendar apps, use this link.
The Cambridge Footlights put on a wide range of shows each year. These include Smokers, sketch shows, standup nights, comic plays, and the annual Christmas Pantomime.
Smokers: Smokers are one-night comedy variety shows featuring students performing anything from sketches, standup, song, comic monologues, or whatever else they can come up with – as long as it's meant to make people laugh! There are typically 6-8 Footlights Smokers each term, split between the ADC Theatre (11pm on a Tuesday) and the Corpus Playroom (9.30pm on a Monday). Auditions for ADC Smokers typically take place during the weekend before the Smoker. Corpus Smokers are not auditioned; instead, one of the Smokers Officers will make a post in the Footlights Facebook group, and slots will be allocated to people who comment on the post stating what they would like to perform (and the names of anyone else in their act) on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have any questions regarding smokers, such as how to get involved or when certain smokers will occur, feel free to contact one of our Smokers Officers, Rhys Griffiths and Will Boyce.
Sketch shows: The Footlights fund and support three sketch shows year – Spring Revue, Footlights Presents, and the Footlights Tour Show. Spring Revue and Presents take place during Lent term. Tour Show is typically cast during Lent term, with shows taking place over the course of several months from the end of Easter term to the start of Michaelmas.
Spring Revue is the Footlights' annual showcase featuring its graduating members performing a mix of newly-written material and the best of their previous work. The cast of Spring Revue are also eligible to perform at Footlights at the Arts Theatre, a two-night show at the Cambridge Arts Theatre featuring performances from other university comedy societies, including the Oxford Revue, the Leeds Tealights, the Bristol Revunions, and the Durham Revue.
Footlights Presents is a sketch show for students in their second undergraduate year or above or postgraduates in any year of study – especially those who intend to apply for membership at the end of Lent term.
Tour Show is a sketch show that aims to help Cambridge's best sketch comedians break into the industry. Tour Show typically consists of a first 'home' run at the ADC at the end of Easter term, then touring the UK in July, doing a month at the Edinburgh Fringe in August, then heading to the US in September, before finally coming back for its second home run at the ADC in early October.
Standup shows: The Footlights Standup Showcase was started in 2019, and gives the best standup comics the chance to perform longer sets than they would typically get at Smokers or open mic nights. The Standup Showcase aims to help standup comics get noticed by casting agents or producers, and is open to recent graduates as well as current students. For summer 2023, we're looking at getting a slot at the OSO Theatre in London – but keep your eyes peeled for updates!
Comic plays: The Footlights run a competition known as the Harry Porter Prize where students can submit an original one-hour-long comic play to the staged as an ADC Lateshow. The Footlights Committee select a shortlist to send for a final decision to a Footlights alumnus. Recent judges for the Harry Porter Prize have included Phil Wang, Alex Horne, Emma Sidi, and John Finnemore.
Pantomime: Arguably the biggest show of the Cambridge comedy calendar, Panto is a student-written comedy musical produced in conjunction with CUADC that takes place over two weeks at the end of each Michaelmas Term. Applications to write Panto typically open in Easter Term. Auditions typically take place at the start of Michaelmas.
However, Footlights shows aren't the only comedy shows in Cambridge, and many others are organised by students pitching for slots at the ADC Theatre or the Corpus Playroom. For more information on pitching a show to the ADC Theatre or to Corpus Playroom, visit the ADC's application guide. If you have specific questions on pitching, please feel free to ask any member of the Footlights Committee, or ADC Management.
In addition, comedy shows are on at many venues besides the ADC Theatre and the Corpus Playroom. Many Cambridge colleges hold their own comedy nights, with notable examples being Wolfson Howlers, Pembroke Smokers, Mighty Players' Bar Nights, or Lady Margaret Players' Scratch Nights.
As well as shows, the Footlights organise comedy workshops to help people develop skills for writing and performing comedy, as well as directing and incorporating tech.
We typically run workshops for Freshers or people new to comedy at the start of Michaelmas Term, as well as workshops for underrepresented groups at Cambridge such as BIPOC students, working-class students, disabled students, and female or non-binary students. These are usually arranged to take place a couple of weeks before Smokers specifically for comedians from those backgrounds.
Our General Intro to Comedy Workshop slides are available here – but we strongly recommend coming to the workshop if you can – it's a lot more fun that way, and you'll get a lot more out of it!
We also run a very informal weekly drop-in writing session called Writers' Room, held from 5pm-6.30pm in Caffè Nero on Market Passage. This is meant to be a low-commitment, low-pressure way to get help with any material you've been working on, to come up with ideas for standup sets, sketches, songs, or character monologues, or to just meet other comics!
To stay updated on when workshops will occur, subscribe to the Footlights Mailing List, and make sure you're part of the Cambridge Theatre and Footlights Facebook groups! Feel free to also send any questions you might have to our Workshops and Outreach Officers, Joy Adeogun and Kae Deller!
Footlights Membership aims to reward people for consistently writing and performing comedy to a high standard. Footlights members are eligible to perform in Spring Revue, and membership is available to students of the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin entering their third undergraduate year of study or above, or any year of postgraduate study.
There are two membership application cycles: one at the end of Lent term, and one at the start of Michaelmas Term. Applications should contain an outline of your comedy experience to date, how you would benefit from membership, and how you would use membership to improve the accessibility of the Cambridge comedy scene.
Applications for membership are currently closed.
For more information on membership and the application process, please see our membership information pack.
The Cambridge Footlights are committed to supporting Cambridge comedians doing projects within Cambridge and outside. Within Cambridge, we act as an emergency backup funding body for any comedy show at the ADC Theatre or the Corpus Playroom.
We have two schemes available to support comedy projects outside Cambridge. First, we offer grants to graduating comedians taking a show up to the Edinburgh Fringe to help them launch their comedy career. (However, please note there is limited funding available for this and these grants are awarded on a competitive basis.)
In addition to Fringe Grants, we also offer Harry Porter Hardship Grants to students from disadvantaged backgrounds pursuing any comedy project outside Cambridge. Hardship Grants are managed and administered completely independently from Fringe grants, and are handled by senior members of the University.
Application packs for Fringe Grants and Harry Porter Hardship Grants will be released in Lent term. Questions about these grants should be directed to Niamh or Sanah.
The Cambridge Footlights committee are responsible for organising Footlights shows, workshops, socials, and generally supporting Cambridge comedians. The Committee is distinct from the writer/performer membership. You do not have to be a writer/performer to be on the Footlights committee, nor do you have to be on the Footlights committee to be a writer/performer member. The Committee are responsible for reviewing membership applications and selecting which should be accepted in that cycle.
The current Footlights Committee is:
President: Niamh Howat
Secretary: Toria White
Smokers Officers: Rhys Griffiths and Will Boyce
Workshop and Outreach Officers: Margaret Saunderson and Kae Deller
Online Content Officer and Archivist: Michael Elizabeth
Social Secretary: Diya Shah
Gigs Officer: Christian Longstaff
Treasurer: Sanah Kashyap
Technician's Rep: Amelia Cordwell
Technician: Edward Lancaster
Most Committee roles are democratically elected at the end of Lent term. The two exceptions to these are the Treasurer and Technician roles, which are judged by the Committee on the basis of a written application. When committee applications are open, this will be announced on the Cambridge Theatre and Footlights Facebook groups, and through our mailing list. An application pack will be released, containing details on each committee role, and explaining how to apply. Any student at the University of Cambridge who has taken part in a comedy show in any capacity is eligible to vote in the committee elections.
The Footlights camera is available to borrow for purposes such as headshots or recording shows. To request to borrow one of our cameras, please fill out this Google Form and a member of the committee will get back to you.
See our Guide to Comedy for a brief summary of the different types of comedy. (This was written by the 2018-19 Footlights Committee, so some of the contact information is out-of-date, but most of it is still relevant and we’re working on updating it!)
At the start of each year, we run workshops for Freshers and students new to comedy. Slides for our Intro to Comedy workshop are available here.
We have a Google Drive folder containing more resources on sketch, standup, and the Edinburgh Fringe, available here.
For clarification on any terms used in Cambridge comedy, visit our Cambridge Comedy Glossary, where multiple terms are expanded upon in more detail.
We have an anonymous feedback form if you have any questions or concerns that you would like to raise with the Footlights Committee.
If you have any general questions about the Footlights, the information above, or anything else, feel free to contact Toria at firstname.lastname@example.org or Niamh at email@example.com!