Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor is musical comic who has already supported Simon Munnery on tour and starred in the one-man play, The Game's a Foot, Try the Fish. He won the Great Yorkshire Fringe New Comedian of the Year in 2015 and got through to the semi-finals of the BBC New Comedy Awards in 2016.
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Great Yorkshire Fringe Comedian Of The Year final

Gig review by Steve Bennett in York

It’s Yorkshire Day, so it’s apt that the Great Yorkshire Fringe has crowned – presumably with a flat cap – a new comedian of the year.

Simon Lomas impressed at last night’s final with the quality of his quirky writing. He’s one of the ever-expanding army of socially awkward comedians who perform nervously and quietly, virtually immobilised by shyness – an unconfident, pause-filled approach that can be fatal to weaker jokes. However, his imaginative, delightful wordplay shone through, with lines that more often than not take an abrupt and unexpected change in direction. 

There are a couple of instances where he inadvertently repeats a similar structure, a small let-down in a set that’s usually so unpredictable, and the ultra-dry delivery may sap energy over too long a set. But in these five minutes, he made a strong mark.

Lomas was second on the bill after Hugh Raine, a rather old-school entertainer trapped in a younger man’s body. A jaunty, banjolele-strumming fellow with a range of impersonations in his repertoire, there’s something a bit Summertime Special about his cheery energy. The thinking behind his gags is often rather dated, too: There’s even a joke about his wife having an affair with the milkman (do they still have them?) along with his Arnold Schwarzenegger impression and comments about old folk stinking of piss.

Third up was Amy Vreene, whose introduction was given added frisson as compere Mick Ferry – a productive source of quick-thinking interactions throughout the night – managed to identify her mum in the audience. Her set was base, with an early detonation of the C-bomb and much discussion of her fanny, but with the filth was largely inelegant… and not in a good way.

Stanley Brooks looked like he’d donned his dad’s suit to take to the stage for what turned out to be a spoof sales talk that neatly mocked the try-hard acronyms of the corporate world as he simplified all complex business talk into the simple aim of grabbing all the gold. There are some deft lines and nice observations in here, including a particularly good take on the very old ‘men and women’ trope. The audience participation was a little bumpier, but contained a few zingers. He’s got strong comic instincts… plus a couple of hundred quid in his pocket from being placed third.

President Obonjo has everything you’d expect of a tinpot African dictator: an Army uniform full of self-awarded medals and the forceful, booming rhetoric of a strong, if corrupt, leader. It’s a great comic construct, with lots of seized opportunities for playing with the cliches. He’s not a real president though – no kidding! – but a comedian from St Albans called Benjamin Bello, who and has great fun deconstructing the persona compared to his life without the costume. He could have milked the illusion a little longer, I think, before admitting the front, and he dropped the ball when he acknowledged that his claims about coming from York was a lie. That, for a Yorkshire crowd, could spark a coup. But the strength of his creation, and the clever undermining of it, won the President the second place.

Scotsman Monty Burns could give our dictator chum a run for his money on the barnstorming front, with a passionate declamatory style that keeps the audience’s attention. He is, perhaps, the photographic negative of winner Lomas in having passionate patter but rather less distinctive material, The set is predicated on the idea that he’s a ‘piece of shit’ and knows it. But the routines don’t always quite bear that out, as he grumbles about his wife’s ladygarden or rants about his hatred of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He certainly has a competence in comedy, but isn’t yet all-that interesting, despite a back-story away from the middle-class norm.

The Private Gentleman’s Yacht Club are a musical double-act who do a 1980s-style rap about penises and a song in the style of The Smiths (in the very loose interpretation of the word style) about vegetable rights, with lines such as ‘mash is murder’. Lazy, dated writing and self-satisfied delivery make this club you won’t be interested in joining.

And finally Neil Harris, the second nervous, low-key act of the night, who couldn’t help but pale in comparison to Lomas. His comedy’s often a fairly straightforward affair with few surprises, setting himself as not a #lad, most of which is said by his very presence. Yet there are some delights, including finding a nice new tag to the oft-cited ‘I’m like Marmite…’ setup, and using his dry monotone to demolish some saucy chat. So some promise, then, but certainly more work needed.

For one last treat before the medal ceremony admin, last year’s winner, Tom Taylor, returned for a cracking headline set. He’s a  quirky, sometimes musical act with all the nervous energy of early Adam Hess with original gags (except for the occasional slip) and a confidence to work at the moment and mock his own stupidity. Dad jokes – and plenty of better ones besides – are rarely done this stylishly.

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Published: 2 Aug 2016



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