Story by Weekend Editor Graham Chalmers
Picture by Jane Hobson
A talented young Harrogate stand-up comedian will be hoping to impress celebrity judge Sarah Millican tonight, Thursday when he steps onto the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Former Ashville College student Tom Taylor is one of the finalists in the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny contest at the famous Gilded Balloon venue.
The competition has previously produced stars such as Peter Kay who famously won the event in 1989 before going onto become Britain’s biggest comic.
Tom said he was thrilled to get the chance to shine at the highest level.
Amazingly, he only made his live debut as a comic three years ago at the opening night of his own comedy club, Sitting Room which he has run each month in Harrogate with great success since then.
“I am delighted and incredibly excited to be through to the final. It’s a slightly weird feeling to be performing at an event my current comedy heroes performed at 10 years ago but thrilling nonetheless!”
The most important showcase for comedy stars of the future in the UK, the first prize for the winner of tonight’s final is £2,000 in cash and a place in the Best of British Show at the Montreal Comedy Festival; an event that is closely watched by talent scouts for the American TV networks.
Whether he is victorious in tonight’s final or not is scarcely the point for this likable young man who is studying music at York University.
When he begins his stand-up set later today, Tom will be in the same position as previous finalists who went onto great things including Johnny Vegas, Alan Carr, Ed Byrne and Russell Howard.
Tom said: “The list of past finalists reads like a who’s who of British comedy. The competition has such a great reputation and standing with both the industry and the public.”
But Tom, who won his heat with a stunning performance which lasted just eight minutes, will undoubtedly face stiff competition from the eight rival newcomers to impress this year’s judging panel which not only includes Sarah Milllican but journalists from national newspapers.
Now in its 25th year, the stature of the So You Think You’re Funny competiton is such that past celebrity judges have included Steve Coogan, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.
Depending on tonight’s result, life will go back to normal for Tom on his return from Edinburgh after several weeks performing and partaking in the hectic spirit of the Fringe.
Having beaten nearly 500 contestants to get to this stage, next month sees him back in Harrogate for the the latest of his Sitting Room comedy club.
The event at St George Hotel takes place on Wednesday, September 11 and is a charity show for Yorkshire Cancer Research.
For more information, visit www.sittingroomcomedy.com