Desiree Burch leads the charge
A really kind piece on the funny women 2015 finals by one of the judges Alice Jones
Who will be the next Sarah Millican? Who is the new Katherine Ryan, or Bridget Christie, or Roisin Conaty or Sara Pascoe?
The Funny Women Awards is as good a place as any to spot them. All of those stand-ups – plus Susan Calman, Diane Morgan, Zoe Lyons, Kerry Godliman, Holly Walsh and more – have won or been finalists in the female-only comedy competition since it started in 2003.
Last week, after 17 regional heats, which whittled down 250 entrants to 10, it was the 2015 live final. Each of the finalists, who came from all over – New York and Nottingham, Denmark and Devon – performed a five-minute set at King’s Place in London for a sold-out audience and a panel of judges. I was one of the judges, along with agents, commissioners and producers, representing Channel 4, the BBC and Sky.
We had an easy job to do, thanks to Desiree Burch, a larger-than-life New Yorker in her mid-thirties who brought the roof down with her routines about her body and being an American in London. Her comedy is, she says, about life as “a big woman, a black woman, and a woman woman” and for it she won first prize: £2000, mentoring from a former winner, two live spots at Brighton’s Komedia and three days in a studio to make a showreel.
Similarly praise-worthy were the runners-up. Sarah Keyworth, a charming stand-up from Nottingham, also newly arrived in London, who talked about relationships and her sexuality with warm candour. Helen Monks, 22 and from Birmingham, is better known for playing the teenage Caitlin Moran in the writer’s sitcom Raised by Wolves. She is new to stand-up, but Moran’s writing has clearly rubbed off on her: she gave a punchy, confident set about privilege.