This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Gilded Balloon’s annual comedy competition,
While each performer was unique in some way, Adam is genuinely different.
The event was hosted by 2012 winner Aisling Bea, who warmed up the audience (and stalled for time as the judges deliberated) with her charm and TMI honesty. The ten competitors were notably diverse for a comedy competition, with as many women as men, and multiple people of colour. That diversity made the show more entertaining, as each comic was able to display a unique identity within their seven-minute set. Some sets felt loose and too long, an inevitable consequence of stretching five-minute sets to suit the time allowance.
Finishing in 3rd place was Morgan Rees, who competed in 2016’s Chortle Student Comedy Award finals. While some of his material remains from that set, his improvement in the last year is remarkable. His jokes, which focused on his Welsh heritage, unfavourable comparisons and daddy issues, were quick, but his real talent seems to lie in setting up jokes such that, even when you know where it’s going, it’s still funny.
The runner up was Sarah Mann, who immediately displayed a keen sense for thinking on her feet by suggesting that her outfit was a Morgan Rees costume. She identified herself as asexual, or at least “a-curious”. Wanting to learn to holiday alone, she related, she instead invented a boyfriend to not be seen as traveling alone. Listening to her dig herself a deeper and deeper hole was immensely relatable while evoking a particularly British brand of cringe comedy.
But the winner was Maisie Adam, a lanky Yorkshire lass. She delighted the audience with stories of “Madam Dalston”, her incredibly northern French teacher, and the lessons learned from applying DDR moves to club nights. While each performer was unique in some way, Adam is genuinely different. Her voice and delivery doesn’t sound like an impersonation of a stand-up comic, but a style of her own. She can go a long way, and with the experience and opportunities that being SYTYF champion provides, I think she will.