The West Midlands’ biggest comedy prize is set to return this autumn after a two-year hiatus.
The Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award recognises the very best new and emerging comedy talent from the region, and officially launches the annual arts festival on Friday 7 October 2022 at The Glee Club, Birmingham.
The five acts nominated for the prestigious title are Richard Dadd, Tal Davies, Jules O’Brian, Lovell Smith and Hannah Weetman.
Hailing from Birmingham, Richard Dadd made his stand-up debut at Cradley Heath’s The Holly Bush, in 2019. By day a voice-over artist, Richard is best known for appearing in character as Satan, and describes his style as “sheer fiction,” often combining comedy with “a dash of tragedy.”
“During lockdown, I took my stand-up characterisation of Satan and turned him into a more rounded and fleshed-out character by subjecting him to intense philosophical interrogation from Eric Rushton for our podcast, Tea With The Devil,” explains Richard. “This evolved into a two-man live show which we debuted at Birmingham Comedy Festival 2021, and it was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable gigs I’ve ever done.”
Richard has also collaborated with magician Damon Conlan and appeared on Mark Watson’s 24 hour Twitch show with Mary Flanigan.
Born in Sutton Coldfield, Tal Davies grew up in nearby Tamworth, and now resides in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. A graduate of James Cook’s popular stand-up comedy course, Tal made her debut at the Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham, in February 2019, and cites Sarah Millican, Joe Lycett, Dylan Moran and the late Sean Lock as some of her formative inspirations.
Discussing her approach to comedy, Tal says: “I blend sarcastic, observational humour with self-deprecating stories based on my own life experiences, and throw in some daft pop culture references too. My delivery is quite deadpan and low energy so I try to ensure my writing is sharp to compensate for that. I’ve been told I have a ‘way with words’, so I aim to use that to my advantage when embellishing my embarrassing tales of woe.”
Jules O’Brian first took to the stage in 2017 for a charity night at The Comedy Loft, in Birmingham. A keen fan of Rik Mayall, French and Saunders, Victoria Wood, and Joan Rivers, as well as Katherine Ryan, Tim Minchin, Amy Schumer, and the Brum-based Luisa Omielan, Jules states her stand-up style is “Butter wouldn’t melt meets Is That All There Is?” (the latter, a reference to the dark song made famous by singer Peggy Lee).
An English tutor, Jules currently lives in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and performed a sell-out ‘triple-header’ with pals Tal and Hannah during 2021’s Birmingham Comedy Festival.
Birmingham “born and raised,” but now living in Dudley, Lovell Smith is another graduate of James Cook’s comedy course, first performing in public at the end-of-course showcase, at the Hare And Hounds, in mid-2019. With a style that’s “self-deprecating with observations on every day life,” Lovell’s already appeared with such notable acts as Nathan Caton and Guz Khan. Currently between jobs, (“technically that makes me a full time comedian,” he smiles), he’s a big fan of Joe Lycett and Black Country comic Darren Harriot.
“In an industry which is heavily based on location [and] usually being in London, those two are proud Brummies that are doing really well,” he says.
A resident of Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, Hannah Weetman also began performing in 2019, and currently combines stand-up with working in a Brum call centre, advising callers about council tax (“Ironic as I live with my parents and don’t pay council tax,” she laughs).
Discussing stand-up, she explains: “I’d say my comedy style is honest, sometimes surreal, loud. [And] my comedy icons and inspirations are Rik Mayall, Caroline Aherne, and Sean Lock.”
A spokesperson for Birmingham Comedy Festival said: “After temporarily pausing Breaking Talent in 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic, we’re so pleased the award is finally back, and with an amazing line-up of next generation West Mids talent. This will be a tough decision for our judging panel!”
Based on live performances over the last year, participating acts have been nominated by James Cook (comedian, comedy course tutor); Adam Jaremko (The Glee’s comedy promoter/ booker); Josh Pugh (Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2015 winner, Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2022 Best Comedy Show nominee); and Celya AB (Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2019 winner, BBC’s New Comedy Award 2021 Finalist).
The Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2022 takes place at The Glee Club, The Arcadian, Birmingham, on Friday 7 October 2022. The night is compèred by James Cook and closes with a special set from Glenn Moore. Tickets £12 (£9 NUS) + booking fee, from 0871 472 0400. For more information see: www.bhamcomfest.co.uk