There are a number of competitions that take place as part of the festival. Here is a summary of the competitions and (where relevant) details of how to enter or who to contact for more information.
One of the longest running comedy competitions in the UK, the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition has taken place each February since 1995. Past winners include Johnny Vegas, Rhod Gilbert, Josh Widdicombe, Jo Enright and more.
The winner of the competition wins £1000 and the title which is recognised across the industry.
Entry to the competition is via nomination by one of the nomination promoters. Each year the panel changes but is made up of respected UK comedy promoters, nominating their favourite new act of the last 12 months. The nominating promoters are generally announced in December of each year via the main festival website and twitter.
Each act can’t be doing headline spots and must be “new” to comedy; they can’t have performed a full hour show at Edinburgh, or other international festival. Each act performs for 7 minutes on the night and a judging panel of comedy industry representatives make the final decision.
The competition always takes place on the last Saturday of the festival.
The festival office recruits a public panel of members of the public, who happen to be hard core comedy fans, to judge these 2 awards as part of the festival. These panel members visit the festival from across the UK, as well as people who live in Leicester. They see all the shows which are submitted to the awards when shows are submitted to the festivals website; it is important that you enter your shows at that stage if you want to be considered.
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Any full show (not mixed bills) can be considered for Best Show. Best New Show criteria includes any show which has not been performed at Edinburgh or other major festival, and hasn’t been performed more than 6 times.
Past nominees and winners include Chris McCausland, Rob Rouse, The History Girls, Tony Law, Matt Richardson, Ian Stone and Chris Stokes.
The shows must be at least 45 minutes in length and be fully produced. Mixed bills are not considered.
The final award is presented at the post-festival awards ceremony which usually takes place in March.
For newish comedians (or anyone else that fancies it), Funhouse Comedy promote the "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" gong shows. This is nothing like the ruthless gong shows at the Comedy Store that you may have heard about. It's friendly! Around 15 acts compete. Each act gets a guaranteed 2 mins, after this point, lights flash and 5 selected audience members hold up cards. If at least 3 are red, it's time to leave. You can also be voted off by the compere or promoter if you are doing material that has been largely stolen or is blatantly racist.
If at least 3 are green, then carry on until they flash again approx 90 seconds later. (Lights usually only flash during pauses, not mid-gag) If you survive 5 minutes, you are in the final, where you get one minute to convince the audience you should win. Winners get £50 prize, bookings at other clubs and qualify for a Champion’s Special Final for a £100 prize.
If you are new to comedy, please note we are looking for acts to be doing their own material, not gags doing the rounds on texts and the internet or old-skool Bernard Manning/Chubby Brown-type material
East Midlands’ artists working in comedy are invited to submit applications of short pieces of work, work in progress or extracts from a finished product to be performed at Emergency!
Emergency! is an open access event; there is no charge or registration fee to take part, no CV’s or show reels are required just a simple idea for a performance that lasts 15 minutes.
What opportunities the event offers: