Live Review: Balham Comedy Festival Comedy Contest, The Bedford: Page 2 of 2

After the break Abigail Burdess opened the second half with a set that swayed erratically from political/feminist to smutty masturbation talk to the downright daft. Burdess is an excellent, versatile performer - though hardly a newbie, I saw her in Edinburgh yonks ago – but seemed unable to settle on a style of her own. Was she an angry feminist with an axe to grind about sexism in showbusiness or just a sexually frustrated mum who liked talking about wanking? I guess it is possible to be both but it won’t necessarily win you comedy competitions.

If the aim of the competition was to find an Ivo Graham tribute act Sam Mitchell would have romped home. Despite being older than Graham, Mitchell had the same skinny frame, black floppy fringe and self-deprecating middle class demeanour. He got some decent chuckles out of bemoaning the fact that at thirty he looked too young for his age but this still felt like early days for him. He has the looks and the confidence to do well in the long run. He just needs more rigorous riffs.

Steve “Mad Ron” Lee was the token character act of the night. As his nickname suggested the shaven-headed stand-up was a reformed (I hope) villain and his stoney-faced act was about how villains were too soft these days, too much cybercrime and not enough thumping people. The trouble was that the hard man schtick has been done before, by the likes of Hale and Pace and Jeff Innocent. There were occasional tart social observations, surreal flashes and turns of phrase that caught your attention but not quite enough. Plenty of conviction though.

The finally act, Gabrielle Killick, nearly lost me with her opening explanation that she was an actress, but then gradually won me over with tales of her dating woes. It was hardly the most original, striking idea for a comedy set, but Killick certainly delivered it well – if she hadn’t said she was an actress I’d have probably guessed. 

So well done to all the acts and to John Moloney who compered with genial aplomb. Moloney has also dug into his contacts book to get some great acts to play this south London festival. Check the line-up here. Who knows, in a few years Ben Clover could be headlining here in his own right. 


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