Will Naameh wins Edinburgh Revue championship

The 2016 Edinburgh Revue stand-up championship took place in front of a packed Cabaret Bar at the Pleasance.

Feature by Ben Venables | 24 Mar 2016

It took an exceptionally dazzling performance to secure the prize slab of rock at the Edinburgh Revue's annual comedy championship. The quality of acts was of such a high standard and did the Revue such credit, the eventual winner needed to demonstrate some special comedic clout.

As it happened the victor reset the standard on the night with his wooing of an audience participant, who like the rest of the 150-strong crowd, went from charmed and tickled to utterly enthralled over the five minutes of champion Will Naameh's energetic and improvised rap. Naameh is a founder and player of the Men with Coconuts improv troupe, a member of Spontaneous Sherlock and also co-runs Edinburgh's Potter Trail – and this only represents the tip of the iceberg of an impressive CV which also includes improv training at Chicago's prestigious Second City.

He certainly harnessed his many talents at the championship with a performance of gusto coupled with strong material and was the unanimous choice of the judges on the night, who faced the challenging task of picking a top three from the evening's 18 performers. The panel consisted of Gemma Flynn, a former member of the Revue who took her full debut show to the Fringe in 2015, and Richard Pulsford, fresh from his recent success as runner-up at the Leicester Comedy Festival Pun championship. The two comedians were joined by the comedy editor of some local publication

Scooping second place was Rosy Candlin. Her material was full of nice contrasts, sharp twists and emerging little details. She combined a good sense of story with an interesting faux-innocence in her stage presence, and backed all this up with strong punchlines.

The judges chose to award a tie for third place, for the reason that they'd have to choose between two stand-up subgenres as much as the acts in question. As one set of mostly one-liners and another of inventive storytelling were both quite outstanding examples of their form, to say one was better than the other seemed to rely a little too much on personal taste. And so, Charlie Ralph was awarded third for the knockout strength of his gags and Will Hughes also came third for his innovation. 

In terms of honorary mentions of those not placed in the top spots, the list of names would be too numerous to be meaningful. However, no competition format is perfect and a five minute limit may stifle those rotuines which cry out for a roomier set. This was the case with Jodie Mitchell, whose blindingly obvious comedic talent and depth of material suggested she'd hit her stride with a longer timeframe. Then there was character comedian Chris Savage. Playing one half of a famous children's double act left stranded by his partner, he was certainly one of the most memorable acts of the evening, but one also that would have rewarded a show rather than a slot. 

A hat-tip and last word must also go to Pedro Leandro. With 18 acts and headliner Joe Hollingworth to get through, it was something of a compereing marathon which he gamely took on, even demonstrating he had the killer instinct: a highlight of the evening was when both his dectective and crowd work were put to good use and he unmasked an angelic-seeming Oxford student as a probable love rat. 

Personal thanks to panel colleagues Gemma Flynn and Richard Pulsford. Also to Charlie Elmer and Polly Glynn, current and fomer Revue presidents respectively.

Edinburgh Revue Stand-Up Championship played Cabaret Bar, Pleasance on 22 March 2016. http://facebook.com/edinburghrevue