Daniel Simonsen: Champions
Daniel Simonsen might have one of the funniest introductions this year, performing the first five minutes of his set from behind the curtain, as straight faced as you like (presumably). We’re still laughing though...at an empty stage. It's a perfect fit with his awkward outsider persona and when he finally does appear he ties it neatly to his discomfort with the artifice of stand-up. It’s a similar level of discomfort and social anxiety which fuels most of his material, and just saying hello to someone in the street becomes a hilarious panic with his droll commentary.
His delivery, though, is far from anxious; in fact it's remarkably assured. The overall gag rate is mighty impressive as well, as he squeezes in a ton of great short sharp jokes alongside several longer anecdotes, always with a charmingly wry irreverence. There is a slight lull in the middle where noticeably weaker material pales in comparison to his offbeat observations, but it doesn't last long. Simonsen is this year's newly crowned Best Newcomer, and it’s easy to see why; I certainly haven’t seen a better contender for that title this month and whilst he’s lacking just a few more great routines, it’s clear he’s a natural who you really ought to see in a small room before it's too late.