It’s the third week of the festival. My one true love is gone. All five of them. The best shows are now well reviewed and sold out. Nobody visits my box office anymore. It’s quiet, dreary, I’m wishing I bunked off and went to the National Airsoft Event in Bournemouth instead for a few days.
Then, sitting there in my box office, it occurred to me that there is a reason for the Fringe to keep living: awards! Comedy variety with competition! But how would I go about getting into one?
Enter our wonderful editors, swiftly arranging a ticket to the So You Think You’re Funny? finals.
Gilded Balloon Teviot is this crazy venue that you’ve no doubt heard of by now. It’s like Hogwarts, but unfortunately the selection process is less picky and it gets very crowded in there. That’s where the awards were. I sat close to the stage, and the lady on my left was overjoyed that so many comics on the bill were women (seven out of nine).
Zoe Lyons was compère. She explained the aim of the game (to beat out other comics for exposure and a bit of prize money) and admitted she was a runner up herself back in 2004: “I’m gonna win it this year, luv.”
Zoe told us to be kind to the first act, a tough slot. Scotsman Stuart McPherson came on. He’s a handsome guy who was fairly candid about how his life is going – he’s got no job, for one, and his family can be very pessimistic. He also joked about exercise, how being good at swimming doesn’t make you any good at running.
Next up was Heidi Regan– I’d spoken to some friends of hers in the queue. She’s Australian, but claims that is no laughing matter. Her style is quite shy and rather dry, and again there was a focus on job seeking. She read out a reference supposedly given by her last employer, and also a pedantic poem that turns out to be for forecasting the weather.
Arielle Souma was the third act. Quite different to the two before her, she struts onto stage and purrs after mentioning “there’s a lot of men here.” Her act was mostly about men versus women, and the stress that a lot of men seem to be under. She linked this to lies propagated by pop music, and also liked to yell “HIPPY SHIT!” every so often. French, fabulous and ferocious.
Ruth Hunter was next and my personal favourite. Much like Heidi’s dry style, but cranked up a good few notches. Her act was really dark and I think a lot of its bizzarity came from how she sort of looks like a picture of my mum in the 1980s. Her act is a kind of parody of bad women comics, occasionally stopping after an aside to a suicidal thought to say “Am I right, ladies?” Probably had the most biting joke of all as well, with a mention that there’s more death in the Irish healthcare system.
Last act of the first half was Harriet Braine, who seemed to think that she was teaching a class of some sort. With her guitar and light, high pitched singing she taught us some unusual facts about Picasso and da Vinci.
After a short break in which I was mistaken multiple times as Gilded Balloon staff, Zoe introduced number six, Danielle Walker. A young Aussie, the thing I liked most about her was that she seemed very homely. However it turns out this is her act – playing the nice girl, but occasionally ripping into this alternative persona where she talks in a gruff, psychotic voice. The gist of her set was that she went on a date to an aquarium and was unimpressed.
Next up, Sophie Henderson. Much like Stuart before her, she told us about life freelancing in East London and a few edgy drugs jokes which admittedly did make me laugh.
Jamie M had the penultimate slot. Turns out I’ve seen him perform before, likely at the Glee Club in Cardiff. He told us he’s eight years old and has a rather playful style, traipsing about in his baggy jumper and occasionally pausing the puns to spin around and give his alter ego a pep talk.
The final act was Kelly Convey, another Londoner with attitude. The gist of her set was that men ought to use period tracking apps as well (but not tell girls they’re doing it) so as to understand when they get shouted at for no reason.
Lyons filled a little time with some jokes about the Tattoo being the government’s way of culling old people. Finally, Alan Davies (of QI) and Karen Koren of the Gilded Balloon came on stage to announce the winners. Alan Davies said he was happy to see two boys in the running, as male comedians are so very rare. Danielle Walker and Ruth Hunter were runners up, I was more than happy about this. However, Heidi Regan, with perhaps a more accessible style, was the winner.
In particular, I’d watch out for Jamie M and Ruth Hunter in the future, as they’re sure to be big stars, but obviously Danielle and Heidi will be, too.