In its 29th year, So You Think You're Funny? introduces another generation of comedic talent.
In front of scores of people in the packed Gilded Balloon, the nine contestants for the 2016 So You Think You’re Funny title battled it out to be named funniest new act. Ably held together by compere Zoe Lyons, each act was definitely deserving of appearing in the final. The prestigious competition has launched names such as Aisling Bea, David O’Doherty and Dylan Moran, and this year won by Australian Heidi Regan.
After a shaky start, Regan won over the crowd with her low-key charm. Although a self-confessed ‘slow-burner’, she got down to business and let the audience really get to know her by reading employment references aloud. She also expressed worries about the current job climate. But surely a receptionist wouldn’t be troubled by these turbulent times? Well, think again; out of nowhere, Regan presented an image of her nemesis – robot receptionist. Alongside this, there were some other sweet visual gags and plenty of pop culture references, perfectly crafted into a seven minute set well worthy of a comedy gold medal.
In second place, and winning some of the biggest laughs from the audience, was Ruth Hunter. Her set featuring a dour commentary on work, fertility and nutrition and was delivered in a deliberately unenthusiastic monotone which really highlighted the strength of her writing. Ruth has a wonderful turn of phrase, feeling both real and surreal. Big things predicted for this one.
Second runner-up Danielle Walker has a baby face, from which spouts hilariously indecent material. With her inner voice occasionally leaping out, there were glimmers of bizarre brilliance, particularly in the story of the pigeon who wanted a friend. Bubbly, relevant but most importantly, deliciously dark.
The other contestants also performed with aplomb: local lad Stuart McPherson, musical art historian Harriet Braine, highly polished Sophie Henderson, empowering Arielle Souma, feisty Kelly Convey and an 8-year old (not really) by the name of Jamie M. The judges had a difficult decision.
It’s fantastic to note though, that seven of the nine finalists were women, especially as this was no whitewash. It's a real step up for diversity in comedy, particularly after certain other nominations were revealed.
Regan takes home a cash prize of £2,500, a chance to perform at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival and also Norway’s Bergen Humor Fest, as well as being automatically offered a place in Gilded Balloon’s 2017 Fringe programme.
So You Think You're Funny? Grand Final took place on 25 Aug at Gilded Balloon.