Great Yorkshire Fringe New Comedian of the Year Final – Live Review – York Grand Opera House
By Kirsty Reid, July 2019
Each year, the Great Yorkshire Fringe sees the historic city of York transformed into a vibrant festival hub – and this year is no different. With an eclectic mix of comedy, music, theatre and cabaret, the city is bustling as my dad and I make our way to York Grand Opera House to see some of the finest newcomers on the comedy circuit.
For the fifth year running, the GYF has hosted its Britain’s Got Talent-style hunt for new comedians with eight acts making it to the final.
MC Mick Ferry got the show off to a great start with his friendly banter, before introducing the first act of the night – David Eagle (pictured top, right). The Sheffield-based stand-up exploited every comic advantage that his blindness offers. From a body covered in braille to Australian brashness, Eagle’s quips earned him second place, £500 and a flat cap (we are in Yorkshire after all!).
After wowing the judges with his deadpan one-liners, David Bawden was crowd GYF’s New Comedian of the Year. A title he is certainly worthy of. Taking home £750 (and a flat cap), Bawden’s slow-paced delivery and varied subject matter had audiences crying with laughter – myself included.
Reflecting on his win, humble Bawden said: “The standard of the competition tonight in York was insane, and I really couldn’t believe it when they announced I was the winner. Unreal. This year has just been absolutely insane. What an incredible final this was. Well done everyone.”
After winning the Jason Manford New Act Competition just a few weeks previous, Bawden’s certainly proved he has what it takes to make it on the comedy circuit. Watch this space!
In third place was Tyneside’s Umby Winters (pictured top, left), who collected £250 and (yep, you’ve guessed it) a flat cap. Opening up about the realities of living as a non-binary person, from which loos to use to an inadvertent hate crime, Winters is a natural performer with a great stage presence.
London-born Nigerian Michael Akadiri’s observational humour was a real crowd-pleaser. Through a conversational style narrative, he mocked his mother’s driving and questioned whether he was wrong to take change from a homeless person.
Despite his dark subject matter – homelessness, homosexuality and an awkward experience in a job centre – self-deprecating Howard Anstock managed to put a positive and witty spin on his tales, garnering laughs from the audience with ease.
With an unwillingness to halt when audiences felt uncomfortable, Hannah Platt’s self-deprecating gags were on another level. This is dark comedy like you’ve never seen before. Providing a remarkably honest account of depression and mental health, Platt really pushed the boundaries. Though, the silence in the room suggested she’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Musical comedy duo Hadfield and Swan soon lightened the mood with their lyrical quips. Witty and upbeat, the Northerners sing about silence when travelling on the tube and the education system.
The star of the show for me, though, was Nick Crooks. With his down-to-earth Yorkshire charm, the affable comic brought on the almost-peed-my-pants laughter that you only really get from a true comedy genius.
Sporting a brightly coloured shirt (so we’ll remember him later, he tells us), Crooks’ gags were fresh and clever. From sneaking sweets into the cinema to a dildo made from a Fairy Liquid bottle. Crooks is rude, but not crude. Expect to see big things from this guy.
Bringing the night to a fantastic end was last year’s winner Mark Grimshaw. The Blackpool comedian has gained huge success from his skit about the failures of Northern Rail. The three-year-old gag should be well past its sell by date, but to this day continues to be a hit among crowds.