Competition created by Otherplace Productions.
Otherplace Productions (headed by artistic director Nicola Haydn) host the first final of the Brighton Grin Comedy Awards at the Electric Arcade on Brighton seafront; the top prize being a £500 cheque and a coveted slot at the Late Night show in next year’s Brighton Fringe Festival.
With sixteen years of experience producing live comedy events, Nicola and her team are in the perfect position to champion new talent. Ten budding stand-ups are to take the stage after coming through intense competition over four heats previously held earlier in the month.
Alongside Nicola as the judges this evening are stand up comedian David James, TV super vet Marc Abraham Obe and assistant to the head of comedy at the BBC, Lulu Baker. Guiding us through the night and warming the crowd is stand-up professional Will Duggan.
The packed venue is abuzz with excitement as Duggan takes to the stage. Charming the crowd with light audience banter and tales of teaching sex education as a school teacher, Duggan preps the room nicely for the first act.
Character comedian Aimee Cooper has the unenviable task of being first out of the gate. Cooper plays the outrageous northern experimental beauty therapist, Kitty Cassis, head to toe in fake animal print, ready to castigate anyone who is “ugly”. In this day and age of fillers and surgery, no one needs to put up with being that way, she intermates. It’s a funny grotesque character, with fabulous comedy movement, which has the throng laughing from the off. Vocally and physically her performance is reminiscent of a young Caroline Aherne, with a heightened surreal sensibility, which provides a strong start to proceedings.
In contrast to Kitty, Matt Rouse slowly prowls the stage, his laconic delivery more slowly engaging the crowd. He gets some big laughs about being a bad vegan and paces his set well.
Third up is London based Micah Hall. He connects well with the audience and tells some well received jokes about getting fat feet in lock down as well as regaling us with the more confusing racial slurs he has encountered as well as explaining who his favourite type of racist is. He has a smooth delivery style and garners laughs throughout his five minute monologue.
After a short break Alex Prescot hits us with a jam packed musical set of high technical proficiency. A short song about E-Scooters starts his time, but the biggest laughs and groans of horror are reserved for the song about when Prescot, a home tutor of mathematics, has to poo in the home of his students; it is a funny piece that has the watchers roaring.
Arguably the most inventive stand up of the night is Alex Franklin. Franklin poses as a nervous performer who likes to perform character comedy. The character he portrays is of a man who lives in the Cluedo house and the perils and pitfalls of being trapped there. It’s a niche performance pulled off well.
Dan Jones also brings unusual topics together for his set; this time cheese rolling and the band Outkast. With a much more self assured style and manor than Franklin, Jones draws his audience in with the silliness of his material, which revel in well placed and preposterous call backs. He is not afraid to lead us down a blind alley into an unexpected punchline which, fortunately pays off well, and has the room shaking with laughter.
Seventh on the list and part two closer is Joshua Mays. Mays, brought up in Crawley, makes his own rye observations about Brighton and recalls the odd and wrong things that go to the top of his childhood memories. He has a very laid back, “stoner” style of delivery and raises the roof with some of the biggest laughs of the night when talking about smoking pigeons and “hench” seagulls.
Staring part three Fran Kissling, like Franklin earlier, is a complete one off. A straight laced Swiss comedian, she believes her job to be done as she has turned up on time. Apparently punctuality means a lot to the clock making nation. She brings loads of fun and surreal nonsense to her performance. She has an intriguing, almost monotone, shouting delivery style that is perfect for the five minutes we see her but perhaps difficult to sustain if the comedian wants to progress to a twenty minute or full hour show. Nevertheless her material is wonderfully subversive.
The penultimate act of the night is Ashish Suri who delights and disgusts in equal measure with some explicit material and stories about his nonexistent girlfriend and friends. While not quite hitting the mark in all of his lines, he has very funny bits about being a passive lover and a great joke about Screwfix which has his crowd howling with laughter.
Finally tonight Elaine Fellows takes to the stage with a delightful low energy growl. Pondering whether Jesus would actually like her if he met her and with some good material about the north south divide (like myself she is a northerner settled in the south) she holds the audience well and keeps the standard up.
With our tenth performer finished the judges adjourn to consider their verdict and it’s not long before Ashish Suir and Micah Hall are confirmed runners up, receiving a gift basket from the award’s sponsors Brighton Gin and Joshua Mays, who is also clearly the audience favourite, is awarded top billing for the night, running away with the cheque, gin and plaudits for the evening.
As the night comes to a close the first Brighton Grin Comedy Awards are declared a resounding success. A popular winner has emerged and all the finalists contributed well. A fantastic compere guided us through and an appreciative audience was delighted. What more could be wanted from a comedy competition?
It would appear the Brighton comedy scene is brimming with talent and hopefully on a healthy upward trend after eighteen months of difficult times. It is also nice to see Otherplace Productions continue to champion comedy, as they have done for many years. Long may they do so. This reviewer commends them for it.
Reviewed on 27th October