Live Review: Funny Women Final, Bloomsbury Theatre, London, WC1

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The fourth act in this year's Funny Women Stage Award final, Charlie George, commented soon after coming onstage that "No-one is straight any more." She had clearly being watching from the wings or chatting to her fellow finalists as almost all of this year's Funny Women final line-up were either gay, bisexual, transsexual or pansexual. It's probably a reflection of both the comedy world and the "real" world and good to see that people can be open and honest about their sexuality at a time when society also feels like it is in danger of becoming more closed.

First up was the only double act of the night. Shelf – Rachel WD and Ruby Clyde – kicked off proceedings with a nifty little song about how a boyfriend called Ned had turned one of them gay. It was clever and catchy and also the first time I had seen a comedian make a palindrome joke since Demetri Martin over a decade ago. Their second routine – a jokey attempt at doing a "heterosexual" sketch was less successful, but the chemistry between them was definitely there, as was plenty of potential.

Second act Helena Langdon came on to a huge enthusiastic cheer which was in stark contrast to her very dry deadpan humour. There were still plenty of laughs to be had though from her jokes about being the obligatory gay one in a large family and how it was impossible to define when exactly dusk is. This was a well-constructed set with some inventive set-ups and call-backs. The writing was strong but maybe the intentional flatness of the performance put her at a disadvantage judging-wise compared to more lively acts on the night...

...Such as Liz Guterbock, who had a more easily marketable personality. The London-based Californian was quick to find the humour in subjects ranging from her surname to the lack of tumble dryers in the UK (the latter was news to me, but she did make her point with conviction). Guterbock also had a great definition of her bisexuality being like a Muller Corner, more complicated than merely 50/50.

The aforementioned Charlie George has already been popping up in other competition finals recently and took another step towards success coming third in this one. She's certainly got a great back story – Jehovah's Witness mum and selling The Watchtower as a child, Anglo-Indian, brought up in and bored by Swindon – she just needs to find her own voice. Each time I see her she is slightly different. There seemed to be a Russell Brand swagger last time, this time I spotted the rhythms and cadences of Sara Pascoe. Not bad comedy role models at all, of course.

Sian Davies recently made waves in an article in the Guardian championing working class comedy – she is behind the initiative Best In Class to support working class voices at the Edinburgh Fringe. After starting off with a self-mocking gag about her appearance she delivered a very entertaining set that may not have broken any artistic barriers but certainly went down very well. Davies had some lovely lines about hitting middle age and finding you suddenly prefer a different flavour of crisps and a strong running gag was about how she was hooked on DIY. It's not always fair to make comedy comparisons, but somehow she reminded me of a cross between Peter Kay and Zoe Lyons and came a well-deserved second.

Review continues here.


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