Review: UK Pun Championships, Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival: Page 2 of 2

leo kearse

 The final quarter final, however, produced the real drama of the night. Reigning champion Darren Walsh, very much in the Tim Vine mould with quickfire songs as well as quips, was up against smart Scot Leo Kearse. This was a bit like Man Utd v Man City and would have been a worthy final, with both tall men freestyling and tiny Lee Nelson sometimes having difficulties restraining them. The vote was perilously close at the end and could have gone either way, but Kearse caused a major upset, knocking out the champ.

And then, after a break, to the semis. Thomas took on Pulsford on the subject of chat-up lines. Maybe they were both feeling the strain of a tough quarter final, but they were a little weaker this time round. Thomas won with the least-worst wordplay though deadpan Pulsford nearly pulled it back at the death with a jibe about an amorous Mexican with nachos on his bedpost.

In the other semi-final Coward and Kearse also seemed slightly dazed by the excitement of the sold-out event and at one point almost duplicated material on the subject of cereals, Cowards doing a “totes amazeballs” line and then Kearse following it with a grill-inspired “toast amazeballs”. I thought Cowards might have had the edge with his “gluten for punishment” gag, but Kearse won again.

And so to the final, with Thomas and Kearse both rising to the occasion even if they were not quite sure of the rules. This time there were four, or possibly five rounds. Kearse took an early lead, before Thomas pulled things back. The rap battle-style competitive spirit really came to the fore here with both men bouncing off each other and topping each other’s lines and Nelson losing track of how many rounds there had been.

Again it could have gone either way, Thomas did a slipped disc line, Kearse joked about meeting his wife at an arithmetic club. The laughs came thick and fast. The topic of conspiracy theories threw them both a little however, with Kearse straining to get a giggle out of some tenuous wordplay, mixing up “build-a-bear” for “Bilderberg”. It seemed like a terrible own goal as tumbleweed floated through the crowd. But he was not put off at all and bounced back to triumph, being handed a rubber chicken. I imagine the organisers will egg him on to defend his title in 2016.

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