Harrogate picks the top comics of future

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In The Humorist, award-winning comedian Russell Kane writes about a failed stand-up comic who suddenly discovers the secret of comedy. Recently published by Simon & Schuster, the central character of Kane’s debut novel devises a method of performance so powerful it causes audiences to, literally, die laughing.

I’m hoping nothing like that comes to pass this week when Harrogate Theatre launches its first-ever Harrogate Comedy Festival Comedian of the Year competition.

Otherwise myself, and fellow colleagues George Hinton and Laura Connor at the Harrogate Advertiser who are joining the judging panel for the initial heats, are in for a tricky time.

Reportedly, entries for this exciting new contest sponsored by local brewery Daleside, have flooded in from far afield for the theatre’s new venture.

Rather than facing a group of virgin comics trying their luck from Harrogate or Knaresborough, our sense of humours are about to be tested by some committed practitioners from as far away as Cornwall and Edinburgh.

The ultimate winner, who will be chosen by audience vote at a live show on Monday, October 15, will receive a performance slot in the Hyena Comedy Club’s Closing Festival Gala in the theatre’s main house, alongside top comics Dan Nightingale, Diane Spencer, Paul Sinha and Mark Little.

To celebrate the event as we rubbed our funny bones in preparation earlier in the week, we asked readers to send in their favourite gags.

The winner was Richard Metcalfe of Wetherby who wins two tickets to the Closing Gala.

And the joke he kindly tweeted us? “Elvis my pet mouse died last week. He was caught in a trap!”

The theatre’s confidence in launching the new competition is testimony to its growing success.

This year’s Harrogate Comedy Festival runs from October 7-20 and boasts 50 top-notch comedians including Jon Richardson, Josie Long, Mark Thomas, Julian Clary, Jimmy Tarbuck and Sean Walsh who opens the festival this Sunday night.

Week One programme

Sunday

Sandi Toksvig – Royal Hall 7.30pm.

Seann Walsh – Harrogate Theatre 8pm.

Monday

Slap & Giggle – Studio Theatre 8pm.

Comedian of the Year - Heat 1 – Studio Theatre 9.30pm.

Marcus Brigstocke – Harrogate Theatre 8pm.

Tuesday

Henning Wehn – Harrogate Theatre 8pm.

Carl Donnelly – Studio Theatre 8pm.

Comedian of the Year - Heat 2 – Studio Theatre 9.30pm.

Wednesday

Stewart Francis – Royal Hall 7.30pm.

Piff the Magic Dragon – Harrogate Theatre 8pm .

Pappy’s – Studio Theatre 8pm.

For more, turn to page 46 in the Weekend section

For tickets, telephone 01423 502116 or visit www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk