Laughing Horse New Act of the Year Competition: Ones to watch
Last weekend saw four heats over two nights of the Laughing Horse New Act Competition 2009. As a judge at the shows, Lizzie Cass-Maran brings you her pick of the acts to watch.
Some were put forward to the next round, some didn't quite make the cut, but these acts all had some original concepts with strong performance skills and with a little encouragement could have promising futures.
This likeable Geordie, who went through from the fourth show, started off with some fairly generic sex toy gags, but his act picked up tremendous pace as he shunned the current trend for ‘dark, edgy’ material and fell into a happy, original and surreal journey about Narnia and the Tin Man.
Callaghan opened with a somewhat trite 'I look just like Hitler' line (lines like this have to be both true and funny to work and are so rarely either). Once he found his feet, though, his set was a breath of fresh air amongst some of the laboured clichés of the competition. Although he was not ultimately placed, talking about his own bisexuality - a brave step for a man - he brought his own persona and experience to the stage in an intelligent and well-delivered performance.
The main focus of Macdhomhnaill’s set was a midway language shift from English to Gaelic. This originality stuck out and gave way to some universal humour, transcending language barriers. He was put through to the next round but may struggle to appeal nationwide, as there was only one actual (English) joke in the second half of his set. The gag raised a strong laugh however, and with some development and work he could progress to being a unique and ground-breaking comedian.
Although Mitchell didn’t make it through to the next round, he was given special mention for an amazing performance on his first ever gig. Opening with a line acknowledged by one of the other judges to be 'possibly the best first line of a first gig ever', he showed confidence and a great connection with the audience. His material needs some development, with some lines verging on plain racism, but he has fantastic potential and is definitely one to keep an eye on.
The last act of the last show, McLoughlin was the perfect end to a tiring weekend. A student, he subverted some initial expectation to great comedic effect and had my favourite line of the competition. Check him out, along with Humphries and Macdhomhnaill, at the quarter finals in Edinburgh on 3 and 4 April.