Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year – Results

Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year – Results

The winner of Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2021 has been announced as Nina Gilligan.  The event, the first national comedy competition to have taken place this year, took place in front of a live, socially distanced audience at The Y Theatre, Leicester.  8 comedians from across the UK took part, after being nominated by respected comedy promoters from around the country.  The runner up Union Jack Radio award was presented to Joseph Emslie.  The competition has taken place each February, as part of the annual Leicester Comedy Festival since 1995, but was postponed earlier this year due to the Covid 19 lockdown. 

Nina Gilligan (pictured) has been on the comedy scene since 2011 and has made a name for herself performing her outrageous, observational, storytelling comedy.

The full line up of nominees was Arielle Souma, Christian Jegard, Dan Tiernan, Hassan Dervish, Jessie Nixon, Joseph Emslie, Liz Guterbock and Nina Gilligan.

The judging panel for the competition featured industry representatives and included Pax Lowey (Comedy Programmer at Southbank Centre), Corrie McGuire (Corrie McGuire Management), Bruce Dessau (Beyond The Joke), Colin Bowles (Triple Cee Pee) & Ian Walker (Union Jack Radio).  The competition was hosted by comedian Eshaan Akbar. 

The nominating promoters this year were Jessica Toomey (Frog & Bucket), Toby Foster (Last Laugh Comedy), Jill Edwards (Jill Edwards Comedy Workshops), Barry Ferns (Angel Comedy) & Ed Strong (Chuckle Busters). 

Geoff Rowe, Founding Director of Leicester Comedy Festival, said: “huge congratulations to Nina Gilligan on winning the competition.  It’s great to welcome them to our comedy hall of fame, alongside some amazing past winners.  The competition tonight was particularly special as it was the first live comedy show we have produced since February 2020, and is the first major comedy award of 2021.  We are already planning for February 2022 when we hope to be fully back, welcoming comedians and audiences to hundreds of shows during Leicester Comedy Festival.”

Over the last 25 years, nominees and winners of the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition have included Andi Osho, Johnny Vegas, Greg Davies, Romesh Ranganathan, Rosie Jones, Simon Amstell, Reg D Hunter, Suzi Ruffell, Lucy Beaumont, Josh Widdicombe, Jimmy Carr, Mitch Benn, Rhod Gilbert, Kate Lucas &, in 2020, the winner was Eric Rushton. 

Leicester Comedy Festival 2021 was the first UK comedy festival to take place this year, selling almost 30,000 tickets to comedy lovers around the world who enjoyed the online festival.  Tickets were sold to people living in Australia, the USA, Sweden, Cyprus, Belgium, Belfast and Berlin, as well as across the UK.  Over 86% of the audience were new to the festival, having never bought tickets to previous editions of Leicester Comedy Festival. 

The festival programme included over 1678 hours of comedy on NextUp Comedy, as well as events streamed on Twitch, Facebook Live, Youtube and other online platforms.  Comedians including Tom Allen, Ed Byrne, Nina Conti, Stewart Lee, Al Murray, Zoe Lyons appeared as well as stand up comedy shows, a seminar discussion programme, a series of special festival podcasts, kids and family shows and exclusive interviews with comedians.  Over 80% of the audience were based from outside Leicester or Leicestershire, an increase from 65% in previous years. 

The festival’s expanded reach was reflected in the national press coverage garnered for this culturally significant event in the UK arts calendar.  Features, reviews and reports appeared on BBC News at 10, The Times, The Guardian, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 5, Metro, The Telegraph and Waitrose Weekend magazine.

Photo credit: Sammy Staniforth/Crosscut Media



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