So You Think You're Funny Final 2021, Gilded Balloon : Page 2 of 2

So You Think You're Funny Final 2021, Gilded Balloon

And talking of doing something different, the second half opened with Nate Kitch, part stand-up, part prop-comic, part-performance artist, part-idiot, who took his cue from Zoom gigs and did part of his offbeat set inside a cardboard box TV. Kitch had the kind of high energy left-field approach that was never going to win everybody over – but there were hints of Simon Munnery, Spencer Jones and Ben Target that suggested that once the circuit gets back to normal and he works on the live aspects of his act he might come up with something very special. 

Caroline Maddison was so soft spoken she was almost drowned out by the air conditioning unit. Ironically part of her set was about her hearing issues and having tinnitus. Maddison clearly has comic talent and an ear – no pun intended - for a funny observation, but maybe needs more gigs to fully find her voice, which I'm sure she will do in time.

Andy Watts injected instant energy into the room with a succession of quickfire gags as soon as he strutted onstage. Looking a little like a very young Rob Beckett, Watts was the nearest the night had to a conventional "Live at the Apollo" act. At the same time there was more than enough originality here on subjects as diverse as the naming of Venus Fly Traps and the different types of "monger" you can find to ensure that his riffing was never too identikit. He was fully deserving of his second runner-up spot.

Kathleen Hughes was confident and Glaswegian, two things that immediately won over the full house (mainly Scots, a smattering of English but very few internationals for obvious reasons). Her autobiographical quips about relationship difficulties struck a chord and demonstrated that she knows how to give a crowd what they want while also being true to herself. She also felt like a natural performer which is a handy skill to have when you don't have many opportunities to perform.

Sometimes with these competitions it can be hard to pick a champion (I was one of the judges alongside Artistic Directors of the Gilded Balloon, Karen & Katy Koren, comedian and 2017 winner Maisie Adam and Paul Willers from Just For Laughs), but when final act Omar Badawy walked on he looked like a star before he had even reached the stage. Call it charisma, star power, whatever, he just seemed like a full-formed comedian, but not in a cliched way.

And fortunately his material lived up to expectations, with gags about his Egyptian-Welsh heritage which never overlapped with the similar subject matter from Phil Marzouk, to his references to terrorism and his thoughts on banning the burka. This was smart, intelligent comedy smoothly delivered with plenty of laughs. First prize went to Badawy but on a night like tonight after what everyone has been through in the last year and went through to get here, all the acts were winners. 

Omar Badawy Picture: Steve Ullathorne




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