Five acts slug it out for prestigious annual comedy title.
Official launch event for city-wide festival.
Five of the very best new and emerging comedians from the West Midlands region are in the running for the fourth Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award.
The prestigious annual competition aims to recognise and support ‘breaking talent’ from the region, offering the winner a vital step-up on the comedy career ladder.
A collaboration between Birmingham Comedy Festival and The Glee Club, the award officially kicks off the 10-day festival on Friday 6 October 2017.
The nominated acts are Alex Black, Rob Kemp, Gemma Layton, Eric Rushton and Kai Samra.
Having grown up in Huddersfield, Alex Black moved to the Midlands as a student and now resides in Hollywood, south Birmingham. He’s been doing stand-up for two years, having been inspired by the likes of The Fast Show, Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan, Ross Noble and Bill Bailey. “I’m a musical comedian, telling stories about losing my youth set to the soundtrack of my long-gone teens,” he says.
Wednesbury-based examinations officer Rob Kemp started his stand-up journey nearly six years ago. His second one-man show, The Elvis Dead, mashed-up horror flick Evil Dead 2 and the hits of Elvis Presley, to become a runaway cult hit at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. An admirer of Eddie Izzard, the Pythons, Dylan Moran and Daniel Kitson, his comedic style has been described as “quite smart” and “fairly leftfield confused whimsy.”
A former member of sketch group FunBags Comedy, Gemma Layton is a character comedian whose creations include Mercedes Benson. But it’s her latest creation, Black Country cabaret singer Beverly Vegas, which has ensured her Breaking Talent Award nomination. Gemma cites The League Of Gentlemen, Victoria Wood, Julia Walters, Julia Davis and Steve Coogan as key inspirations.
Eric Rushton hails from Stone, Staffordshire, and made his stand-up debut with Warwick Comedy Society during his first year at the University Of Warwick. “Terminally unemployed” he reached the finals of the Chortle Student Comedy Award 2016 and So You Think You’re Funny? in 2017. “My material is quite self-deprecating and depressing, with a little a bit of silliness to compensate for all the moaning,” he says.
Born in Handsworth, Birmingham, Kai Samra grew up in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Though he only started stand-up in 2016, he’s already opened for such acts as Paul Chowdhry (in front of 2,000 people). Kai describes himself as “an observational comic who tackles issues such as class, race and modern culture from a fresh perspective.”
The five acts were nominated by a panel of comedy professionals based on live performances over the previous year.
A spokesperson for Birmingham Comedy Festival said: “The award features some of the very best talent from across the West Midlands, acts who are either in the early stages of their careers and show real promise, or who’ve seriously upped their game during the last 12 months.
“With observational, music and character comedy, this is our most varied Breaking Talent line-up, so it’s going to be a really fantastic show. We wish all the acts the very best of luck but, of course, there can only be one winner …”
The Glee Club’s Mark Tughan said: “The calibre of talent coming through in the last few years has been exceptional, and this year looks like another step up, both in quality and diversity of acts. It’s become a must-see event for anyone who likes home-grown talent and live comedy.”
Participating acts have been nominated by James Cook (comedian, comedy course tutor), Adam Jaremko (The Glee’s comedy promoter/ booker), Maureen Younger (comedian, MY Comedy), and Josh Pugh (Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2015 winner and English Comedian Of The Year 2016).
The Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2017, in association with Edinburgh Gin, takes place at The Glee Club, The Arcadian, Birmingham, on Friday 6 October 2017. The night is compered by James Cook and closes with a set from Lost Voice Guy. Tickets £11 (£7 NUS) from 0871 472 0400. For more information see: www.bhamcomfest.co.uk
Friday 6 October 2017
Birmingham Comedy Festival and The Glee Club present:
Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2017
Five fast rising acts from across the West Midlands battle it out for the prestigious annual award. Featuring Alex Black, Rob Kemp, Gemma Layton (as Beverly Vegas), Eric Rushton and Kai Samra. Compered by James Cook and with a closing set from Lost Voice Guy.
Supported by Edinburgh Gin.
The Glee Club, The Arcadian, Hurst Street, Birmingham B5 4TD
T: 0871 472 0400
Tickets £11, £7 (NUS)
Last Entry 8.15pm
ABOUT THE BREAKING TALENT AWARD:
The Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award was launched in 2014 to highlight and support the wealth of local talent. The award is only open to acts from the West Midlands region, with each selected in secret by a panel of comedy professionals.
Those shortlisted have been especially chosen by the city’s best comedians and clubs, selected for their crack gag writing skills, observational chops, deft delivery, and their potential to ‘break out’.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL:
Since debuting in 2001, Birmingham Comedy Festival has played host to some of the biggest names in comedy. This year’s festival is no exception. Running from Friday 6 to Sunday 15 October 2017 the city-wide annual event features Greg Davies, Matt Lucas, Henning Wehn, Joe Lycett, Impractical Jokers, Mark Watson, Simon Day and Phill Jupitus (among others). There’s also a revival of Monty Python’s Spamalot!, the Over The Fence international short-film festival, two Free Half-Dayers, and much more.
Birmingham Comedy Festival is supported by The Arcadian, What’s On Magazine, Edinburgh Gin and Southside BID.
For full details see: www.bhamcomfest.co.uk
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