An American’s Guide to the BBC New Comedy Award Finalists
The BBC has announced its six finalists for the prestigious BBC New Comedy Award, an annual competition for up-and-coming standup comics that is considered to be the most prestigious of its kind in the U.K. The list of past finalists contains a handful of funny faces that might be familiar to an American audience — Lee Mack, Russell Howard and Peter Kay have all made the finals in separate years since the competition’s founding in 1995.
The American fascination with British humor is obvious from the number of TV shows we’ve stolen from them over the years (read: The Office), so a brief who’s-who is in order whenever Britain decides to crown any comic “the next big thing.” Here’s an Americanized rundown of the bright young British minds that will be competing for the title of top comedy newcomer…
Winner of the Deptford heat, Dee Allum is the recipient of 2Northdown’s New Act of 2021 Award and a finalist of the LGBTQ+ New Comedian of the Year 2022 competition. As a trans lesbian, the young comic likes to say that she’s “collecting all the letters,” and describes herself as “the most interesting person to come out of Watford since Elton John."
From the Exeter heat, Omar Badawy is an Egyptian-born Welsh comedian who won the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny? Award at the 2021 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A finalist from last year’s Student Comedy Awards, Badawy brings his love of West End musicals and his unique perspective on the similarities between the Welsh and Egyptian languages to the New Comedy Award finals.
The winner of So You Think You’re Funny? in 2022 is the Coventry representative for the New Comedy Award — Joshua Bethania. His takes on Michael Jackson and the British Museum have made him a mainstay act in newcomer competitions, making the finals of the Natys, the West End New Act of the Year and the Max Turner Prize.
North Ireland’s contribution to the competition is Robbie McShane. Named Belfast’s Best Newcomer in 2018, McShane is the paradoxical veteran of the New Comedy Award circuit, and he brings with him grave warnings of the longevity and lethality of Beatlemania.
As Kilmarnock, Scotland’s submission, Marjolein Robertson is a regular panelist on BBC Radio Scotland’s news panel show Breaking the News and was featured in BBC Scotland’s series The Comedy Underground. Robertson warns of the dangers of dating in a small town in Scotland and has a healthy interest in the credit-card numbers of her potential suitors.
Finally, the Middlesbrough entrant to the competition is Dan Tiernan. With the unique perspective of being a gay dyspraxic Mancunian who cares for young asylum seekers, Tiernan was named the Breakthrough Act of 2021 at the North West Comedy Awards.
The finals of the BBC New Comedy Awards will be held on November 9th, and we fully expect at least one of these fresh faces to one day bring their brand of British humor across the Atlantic. Or maybe we’ll just do a slightly worse version of their material and win a dozen Emmys with it instead.