Review: BBC Introducing Radio 4 Comedy Award, BBC Tent, Edinburgh

Review: BBC Introducing Radio 4 Comedy Award

There were five acts in this year's final, which made it a tight, fast-paced show: "I sound like this because I'm from New York," said first finalist Janine Harouni, who has already been receiving rave reviews for her solo full-length debut on the Edinburgh Fringe. Her short but sweet set here cherry picked some of her best gags, as she compared her parents to the Sopranos but without the crime or the excitement. Close your eyes and you'd believe you were listening to a lost episode of the HBO drama about making a life jacket for their pet dog who keeps jumping in the pool and can't swim. Harouni has all the rhythms and cadences of a top class comic. The material was original too, the only small blip was a brief riff about Irish names being spelt differently to how they are said, which a number of comics have previously done. But for a newcomer she seemed remarkably accomplished and set the bar high. She also had couple of wonderfully risque moments that Archers fans might not appreciate (the show was broadcast on Radio 4 on either side of the soap)

Scottish stand-up Donald Alexander more of a deadpan comic, opening with a gag about his misogynistic friend, who turned into something of a running, returning motif. Alexander noted that his friend's remarks weren't just offensive, they were factually incorrect. Alexander had some nice off the wall moments too, coming up with various different options on his friend's "I treat my women like..." remark, spiralling off into various flights of fancy. There was something neatly surreal about him, and also some unexpected asides: "If you know my dad as well as I're my brother." I think we'll be hearing more from Alexander 

Welsh-Somali comedian Mo Omar joked about giving up being a muslim "to drink" and found plenty of humour in his Somali background. He recently returned there to do a gig for the British forces and it was the only time he got through security quickly while his caucasian colleagues were delayed. He now lives in Wales, but misses things such as having a pet. "I used to have a pet goat." After he left Somalia his grandmother ate it. Omar joked that he tried working for an asylum seeker charity but was sacked on the first day. He shouldn't need to worry, he'll soon have a successful career in comedy.

Josie Long has called Hannah Platt "dark, damaged and hilarious" and it is hard to add much to that. Imagine a Fern Brady from the north-west. After a few gags about being in therapy Platt quickly started talking about her depression: "It was all my dad left me when he died." Since then she has had relationship troubles too. "I'm happy to be a weirdo," she added. The only problem is that she attracts suicidal fans "and that's no way to build a fanbase." It's not easy to talk about mental health in a full set, so to touch on subjects such as self-harm in a brief competition set was pretty impressive.

By complete contrast Manchester-based Josh Jones had more of a cheeky approach to stand-up. Gay, dyslexic and left-handed, there was a hint of Alan Carr about him, but in a Good Way. The waspish side particularly came out when he said used to think he was a bit dim, until he started doing stand-up and met the public and realised how dim a lot of them are. He had a nice line in quipping that he was a character act and was actually very butch and was quick to point out that he has other sides to his personality, though in this short set there was not enough time to get much of them across, though he did have a strong finish. 

To find out the winner click here.



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