Live Review: English Comedian of the Year Final 2017, Underbelly: Page 2 of 2

After the break next up was Lauren Pattison, who was a finalist here two years ago. I wasn’t impressed back then so what do I know? This summer her Edinburgh show Lady Muck picked up rave reviews and a Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nomination. I can see why now. If I was right about her being disappointing back then Pattison has clearly come a long way. Her short set, about relocating from Newcastle to London, working in Boots and splitting up with her boyfriend was well-crafted and full of memorable lines. I’d have been delighted if Pattison had won, but instead she came second and still showed me what a good comedian she is. 

Adam Rowe is another comic who had a good Edinburgh. The 25-year-old Liverpudlian is what you might call a solid stand-up and that’s meant as a compliment rather than a put-down. He is a natural storyteller onstage and holds the audience’s attention as he builds to a punchline. His subject matter is hardly groundbreaking - shopping in Primark, being paunchy, arguing in Greggs – but Rowe is definitely a crowdpleaser.

Radu Isac (“like Ragu but with a d”) has been on the London scene for a while now so I guess he is eligible for this title even though he is Romanian. Last time I saw him a couple of years ago I recalled him being more offbeat. He now seems sharper, more focused and more funny. He has lost some of the quirkiness but he still has an idiosyncratic take on life in London and the difficulties in making friends. He wasn’t particularly political but got one of the biggest laughs of the night when he said “I don't think I should be allowed in either.” It wasn't clear whether he was referring to the competition or the country. Let’s hope he stays after Brexit, he’s a definite welcome addition to the comedy firmament.

Penultimate act Darius Davies came on with bags of Russell Brand-ish attitude taking the piss out of the banners onstage before getting down to his act. There was no shortage of energy here as he recalled going to buy a fridge and wondering why fridges were now wi-fi enabled so that they could talk to you. Did they have to be so needy? The writing had some sharp lines but somehow they didn’t always land. I wondered if maybe Davies would be better off writing for other comics. He does have a keen eye for the absurdity of modern life even if he isn’t always entirely cutting edge original.

Last up was Nick Page, the runner-up in 2016, who is an act whose material almost felt tailor-made for this competition as it was all about being British. The Gloucester comic wondered if he would pass a citizenship test if he had to take it. Page was grumpy and sour and very funny as he recalled various awkward misdemeanours such as faking an accident to avoid a social engagement. He was the hit of the night and won the Australia trip, where his slightly sleazy cricket gag will probably go down a storm. Let’s just hope he is let back into the UK.  

Picture © Steve Best

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