- 60 Seconds To Shine Untapped Comedy Final
- Star Rating: ***
- Friday 12th February 2016
- Bonjangles Brasserie
- London E4
On a night when ten untapped comedians aimed to smash it at the 60 Seconds To Shine untapped comedy talent contest final, it was MC Muriel Oduro who stole the show. Not just once, but twice in an unforgettable finale. Unfortunately for her it’s one she will hope to forget all about!!
Ten up and coming comedians gathered on a freezing cold pre-Valentine’s Friday night in East London to try and warm up an audience of comedy fans and judges via their humour as they competed for the 60 Seconds to Shine prize. The competition saw almost 50 comedians competing over two previous heats, whittled down to a short-list of ten for the final, held at Bojangles Brasserie (or rather Brrrrrrasserie as it was almost as cold inside as outside), Chingford, London. This resulted in coats and scarves being worn by some audience members and performers.
The Oscars and BAFTA’s have been feeling the heat for their lack of diversity but that certainly wasn’t the case at this talent show organised by top comedian Rudi Lickwood, for the night comprised 6 white acts, 3 Black and 1 Asian comedian, including 8 men and 2 women. We even had one from up North (Barnsley)– Zara Elizabeth Brown and much, much further afield, from Texas we had Jo Jo Georgiou and Shep Michaels also from America, competing. That said, she has lived and worked in England for the last 17 years, so she’s practically an honorary Brit!
Rudi Lickwood opening proceedings by saying that one of the ways he can help struggling comedians is by getting them publicity. Entering and winning competitions is one good way to do so.
The diversity of contestants resulted in an exciting final with a wide variety of comedic styles on show, from the character comedy of Icyjisal Comedian Jones, Jay Islaam and Shep Michaels (USA), to the dead pan style of Gary Davis, to the confident, loud mouthed American style of Jo Jo Georgiou.
After all acts had performed a 7 minute routine, host Muriel Oduro compered a clap off where the 10 finalists would be reduced to 4 according to who received the loudest audience applause. In the end, this reduced to 5 due to equal volume of applause for some of the finalists. They all then proceeded to do a 60 second routine to impress the Judges who would then select the winner taking into account their 60 Second routine and earlier performance.
Brrrrilliant set from Gary Davis as he smashes it in 60 Seconds
After some deliberation by the Judge’s – Comedian John Ryan, Trevor Walters and myself, the final placing’s were 3rd place to Ben Sarpong. Second place to AJ Roberts – who had by far the most vocal supporters on the night. The winner, by unanimous agreement was Gary Davis (3rd left in above photo). He really impressed with a superb set filled with puns and one liners, with another superb minute’s worth thrown in during the 60 Seconds battle.
On a night when a low turnout and very cold temperature would have made it difficult for even seasoned headliner’s to entertain the audience, Gary was impressively consistent in delivering the laughs. John Ryan commented, “Top headline comedians would have found it hard to make their act work in the room.” This made Gary’s performance all the more exceptional.
Jo Jo Georgiou also deserves mention for raising energy levels with her up-beat, up-tempo routine. In the main there were a number of good, solid performances, along with many that fell a little flat on the night, but that’s not unexpected at this level where performers are looking to see if they can cut their teeth in the comedy world. Jo Jo Georgiou has been gigging for 17 years so I’m not quite sure why she was even in the competition against much newer talent.
Unfortunately the presentation ceremony was not quite as slick as Gary Davis’s performance and the unfortunate MC Muriel Oduro accidentally dropped and smashed the glass trophy she presented to him, not just once, but twice!! Unforgettable. That’s what she is!
Gary joked that he was only interested in the £100 prize money anyway and John Ryan quipped that next year Rudi should present the winner with a rubber trophy! To be fair, Rudi did say ahead of the final that there was a “glass ceiling” for untapped comedians from diverse backgrounds. So, although Muriel Oduro might not have broken through the glass ceiling with her performance, if nothing else, she certainly broke through the glass trophy!
Joking aside, apart from that she made a good go of the difficult task of hosting the show. She came across as a somewhat raw and inexperienced host, but kept things ticking over with jokes about being single at Valentine’s, the dob dance move (you had to be there), keeping lithe and supple. She could have done more to inject energy into the night and keep momentum going briskly. At times she overdid the introductions between acts and different segments of the show and some brevity from her would have been in order to allow the night to progress more quickly. As it was it over ran considerably, with presentations not taking place till around midnight. The night ran into Saturday 13th February, but considering the presentation, Muriel must have felt it was more like Friday 13th!
@ Michael Peters, Tiemo Talk of the Town
The three Judges were John Ryan, Michael Peters and Trevor Walters.
Comments on each finalist
Very funny guy. Utilised fast talking, amusing voices to mimick famous adverts. The awful journey to work gag was superb. You could really feel his pain during the journey. I knew all about the pain of journey’s thanks to a horrendous 2.15 hour journey just going from West to East London to get to the final, no thanks to the dreadful North Circular traffic.
Fully deserved his second place. AJ is pictured furthest left in the photograph of the finalists.
Ben Sarpong (2nd from left in finalists photograph) delivered some fine, original material relating to his Ghanaian upbringing, family life and disciplinarian father. The dishes before safety and horny cat routines were particularly funny. I liked the fact that he didn’t swear to get laughs or sound more street.
As mentioned above a fine series of puns and one lines deservedly won him first prize. He reminded me a little of Lee Hurst in appearance, but one whose comedy style is more akin to the kings of one liners like Milton Jones, Tim Vine and Stewart Francis. He had to follow two very strong acts and did so easily. He had the best 60 seconds to shine routine and didn’t over run.
Icyjisal Comedian Jones
African-Caribbean comedian Icyjisal Jones tried his hand at character comedy – coming on sporting shorts and a fake beard impersonating an old Jamaican man trying to get used to the cold English weather (shouldn’t have had to try too hard on this night!). Alas unlike the cold, the audience didn’t really feel his humour and more often than not his joked failed to land. He also spent too much time reading out his jokes. Not good. Looking at them for a prompt from time to time is understandable but not during a final. However, he could take heart from the fact Sacha Baron Cohen went through dozens of characters before finding Ali G, Borat and co, so all is not lost. There is potential within his act.
Zara Elizabeth Brown
I liked Zara’s set a lot. I enjoyed her jokes about having a twin brother (not sure if true or not, but it’s a good thing for a comedian it seems. Stephen K Amos and Dane Baptiste both have twin sisters!) It was tough for her as the evening was dragging and it was getting cold. The MC should have warmed up the room before bringing her on.
Asian comedian Jay Islaam had some good jokes, playing on words. These generated some laughter, but for the most part he was more miss, than hit this time. Character acts need to stay in character. He wandered between accents too much.
Jojo was super. She really lifted the energy of the room with her fabulous jokes, big, loud Texan voice and personality. She brought the room back by injecting energy and worked the room better than anyone else on the bill. During the 60 Seconds to Win It section she didn’t do herself justice and that cost her a placing in the top three.
Paul was confident and commanded the stage well and whilst some of his jokes were very amusing, there was much that didn’t work that well. He seemed very raw after Jo Jo. He started very strongly and I had high hopes.
Ex-Bouncer Elroy Welsh had a nice Jamaican lilt to his voice. He tried to work the room and go off script but that didn’t work too well and he was advised to stick to his set, which he did. He got some decent laughs, but overall didn’t win over the room enough to make the final 60 Seconds short-list. He lacked confidence and seemed unable to work a crowd that were by now growing restless. Had good material though.
His routine was largely centred around him being the character of Donald J Trump, USA presidential candidate. I quite like it and it generally worked quite well. He needed more variety of characters as this one alone – although Trump is a huge character – didn’t sustain him enough. Even top impressionists like Rory Bremner wouldn’t do 7 minutes on one politician or famous person. If he’d gone through a range of political characters in the same set up that would have had far more comedic potential. A final of a talent contest probably wasn’t the best vehicle for such a character, but it was good to see someone trying something different. It was such variety of comedic styles that made for an interesting night overall.