Luke Poulton, Lee Nelson and Josh James
Essex has crowned its inaugural Comedian of the Year in a nail-biting final that bought the most exciting talent from the length and breadth of the country to The Fling festival in Chelmsford.
The Fling’s vast comedy stage is a daunting prospect for even the most seasoned comedian but on 6th July nine brave young hopefuls used it to show why they are ranked among the very finest new comics in the country. Each had just five minutes to wow the judges and audience in an attempt outshine their competitors.
Up first, Jake Young’s polished, high-energy set immediately set a high precedent for the other acts. Despite being just twenty, Jake put in a powerhouse performance of perfectly-pitched material delivered with confidence, charm, and precision timing, justifying the industry hype that preceded him. Next up, Luke Poulton rocketed out of the gate with some irresistibly absurd, expertly articulated observations that laid a solid foundation for his later, more personal material. The judges were impressed by the structure and narrative drive of his set which maintained cohesion whilst consistently delivering big laughs. A huge talent and certainly one to watch.
Chris McGlade’s sardonic material and dour delivery showcased a seasoned confidence and laid a good foundation for some silly surprises. Hannah Deasy’s personal poetry skilfully intertwined complex narrative and supremely well observed jokes in a lyrical style that the judges were eager to see expanded into a longer format. Mad Ron kept the laughs rolling with his well-constructed personae, superior improvisation, and some sublime throwaway gags. Next up, the crowd found it impossible to resist Garrie Grubb’s unrelenting barrage of filth, delivered in an original style that drew particular praise from the judges. Not for the faint-hearted, but fantastically funny!
Essex lad Josh James owned the stage with perfectly judged, locally-themed material that had the audience howling with laughter. A polished performer with huge presence and solid writing skills, Josh took no prisoners in his masterclass festival set. Paul Merryck’s good-natured, gag-laden banter made for a fun, uplifting set with lots of charm. Nicholas De Santo rounded-off an eclectic show with his inimitable brand of knowing, right-wing humour. Smart material, an innately funny delivery, and a cheeky penchant for teasing the audience would make Nicholas a great addition to any comedy club line-up.
The judges faced a difficult decision and when their scores were combined two acts were tied for first place. After much deliberation, with the afternoon’s pro comics bought in to cast tie-breaking votes, it became clear that both acts were worthy of top scores and the decision was made to award the top prize jointly to Luke Poulton and Josh James. Both receive a cash prize, a paid spot at an established pro comedy night, and the coveted Essex Comedian of the Year trophy.
Luke described the experience as “an excellent competition to be a part of, where there were so many fantastic acts on”. Josh James added, “chuffed and privileged to be chosen as the Essex Comedian of The Year 2019. I feel like the Mark Wright of Stand up right now, but please ladies do me a favour and stop with the voicemails – I’m a married man!”