The first group of hopeful comedians were able to perform to an intimate crowd and a panel made up of some of the best in the comedy business at Brighton’s Electric Arcade this Wednesday. After submitting videos that were subsequently viewed, reviewed, and rated, nine of the forty who had made it through the application process were set to hit the stage in what would be the event’s first ever outing. The eventual winner, after a month of performances, will take home £500, as well as a chance to perform at The Brighton Fringe’s flagship show, The Late Show. The event has hosted many successful comedians, such as Romesh Ranganathon, Seann Walsh, Reginald D. Hunter, and Zoe Lyons earlier this year. The position is highly sought after, as it is a springboard into the industry for many prospective comedians.
Panelling the awards show on the first night was a myriad of established comedians and comedy writers, including experienced panelist and award-winning comedian Zoe Lyons (Live at The Apollo, Mock The Week), BBC Radio Sussex host and Brighton Gin’s founder Kathy Caton, stand-up and comedy coach David James, and Otherplace artistic director Nicola Haydn.
The event was hosted by established comedian and MC Dave Fensome, who warmed up the crowd with laugh after laugh before introducing each act. The first heat was a night that can only be described as a rollercoaster of comedy, with acts ranging from energetic and abstract performances to dry and dark stand-up comedy, and everything in between, be it character comedy or short comedic storytelling. All acts that performed on the competition's opening night were funny in their own right, with each comedian seemingly taking a different approach to their short five minute sets.
Setting off the competition was Joseph Kent-Walters, who’s loud, abrasive, and animated performance as an elitist theatre actor named Eduardo Soliloquy, was particularly weird but incredibly funny, in a simplistic and almost slapstick way. Other highlights of the night included James Selvey, a short Welsh comedian that used his unimposing appearance to his advantage, as he rattled off dark jokes with a pure, innocent demeanor that contrasted his lines hilariously. Fran Kissling performed in a weird and almost unsettling android-like character that was attempting to figure out social dynamics, and she used audience participation in a way that was second to none. Alex Franklin was another stand-out of the night, attempting character comedy in the form of the owner of the Cluedo house, a story which lent itself easily to some clever and relatable quips about the plot holes of a game that surely everyone in the UK has at one point played.
All comedians were all very funny, and brought their own style to the stage every five minutes, keeping a consistently fresh feeling throughout the show, with the audience attempting to anticipate each set before they hit the stage, and mostly being pleasantly surprised. The winner of the night, as voted by panellists and those in the audience, was Matt Rouse, whose comedic story about being a bad vegan went down a storm with Brighton’s crowd. His deadpan delivery and lazy stage presence conveyed his character perfectly, giving an aura of confusion that could be likened to comedians like James Acaster. Rouse will go on to perform at the event’s final on 27 October, joined by the fellow comedians that came second and third in the first heat, Fran Kissling and Joe Kent-Walters.
There are still 3 more heats of Brighton Grin yet to come at the Brighton Electric each Wednesday this month, culminating in a final on the 27 October. It is a competition that is setting itself up to be both a fun night out for punters and a useful opportunity for talented comedians to make it within the UK’s entertainment industry.