Laughing Horse New Act Of The Year 2012: Quarter-Finals

The Laughing Horse New Act Of The Year is a big deal for British newcomers, but there's yet to be a Scottish winner. Could 2012 be the year?

Review by Bernard O'Leary | 31 Jan 2012
  • Laughing Horse

The list of previous Laughing Horse winners is pretty impressive, with Greg Davies, Russell Kane and Carl Donnelly amongst those who've scooped the prize. With a vibrant open spot scene all across Scotland right now, the quarter-finals in the City Cafe, Edinburgh were bound to be competitive. 

The Skinny was represented on the judging panel and we had a Cowell's-eye view of the best of the new talent emerging in Scotland at the moment. Are any of them going to be superstars in the near future? Here's a quick run-down of the seven acts we sent to London:

Sarah Cassidy: This quirky American is one quarter of Glasgow sketch team The Impenetrable Click, and is evolving into a confident solo performer. Her deadpan routines are written and performed with an expertise that's rare among new acts.

Robin Grainger: Looks like David Bowie going through an emo phase, but he's got swagger, energy and some great ideas. In his five minutes he showed an impressive range of talents; his versatility should take him far.

Geoff Gawler: Another Impenetrable Clicker, Geoff was probably the strongest act in the competition. Despite his laid-back delivery, he's an extraordinary joke-writer with an ability to spin a simple gag into an entire alternative universe. Hilarious and mesmerising, we expect great things of him.

Wayne Madadza: Wayne is a gently-spoken Zimbabwean and instantly loveable. He's also barking mad with a set of disarmingly surreal gags. Completely unpredictable, he was a big hit with audience and judges alike.

James McIntosh: Does James McIntosh have any material or does he just make it all up as he goes along? It's hard to tell from his ADD delivery, but he's certainly bloody funny. Immeasurable potential and he could be the next Ross Noble, unless he gets distracted by a shiny thing.

Dan Petherbridge: In most walks of life it's an insult to call someone a 'bug-eyed nerd,' but in comedy such features are an asset. Dan uses his bug-eyed nerdiness to create a wickedly funny outsider persona. He's only 18 but he writes like he's been doing this for years; definitely one to watch.

Gareth Waugh: Already halfway to being a professional standup, Gareth's confident delivery saw him easily win his quarter-final. Soon to be a big name on the Scottish comedy scene.


Those were the winners and good luck to them in the semi-finals in London. There were also a some other acts who didn't make the cut but still caught the eye of the judges, including...

Richard Brown: He's intelligent and not afraid to show it. His smart and funny literary jokes will probably fail to get him on Mock The Week, but he's already developing a devoted cult following. The Scottish Daniel Kitson? It's hard to say when he's only starting out, but he's definitely someone to keep a close eye on.

Rik Carranza: A Scotsman of Filipino origin, Rik has the presence and likeability to make it in comedy, plus a couple of great jokes. His material is still slightly rough, but he's got the presence of a pro.

 Gareth Mutch: One of the youngest competitors earned a special mention from the judges for the progress he's made. After scraping through the heats, he came back to deliver a storming quarter-final performance. At this rate, he'll be selling out the O2 by March.

Allan Park: A charming, understated storyteller. Allan's style isn't quite suited to competitions but he's a lovely bloke and the kind of act you'd be happy to see in your local comedy club on a Saturday night.

Whether or not the prize is taken by a Scottish act remains to be seen, but we've definitely seen proof that there's a lot of new talent working its way up. Look out for all of these guys at your nearest comedy venue.

Tue 24 & Thu 26 Jan, The City Cafe,Edinburgh. Organised by Fit O' The Giggles in association with Laughing Horse Comedy