The contestants have been announced for ITV1’s new ‘comedy X Factor’ reality series Show Me The Funny.
Comedians taking part range from old hands like Rudi Lickwood – who has more than 20 years experience on the circuit - to newcomers like ex-model Ellie Taylor, who has never been paid for a stand-up gig.
Hosted by Jason Manford, the seven-part series starts in a prime-time 9pm slot on Monday; with six elimination shows and a 90-minute live final at the Hammersmith Apollo. The prize is £100,000 cash, a nationwide UK tour in September (Dates) and their own DVD at Christmas.
In each episode, the comedians are sent out to meet people and compile five minutes of new material for unusual gigs, including an army base, secondary school and rugby club. Each week, one is rejected by judges Alan Davies, critic Kate Copstick and a guest judge, who will include Jo Brand, Johnny Vegas, Bob Mortimer, Ross Noble, Cannon & Ball and Jimmy Tarbuck,.
Manford said: Stand-up comedy has never been bigger and there has never been a better time to make this show. I’m excited to be involved in the series - it’s very rare to have the ability to make pretty much anyone laugh, and I hope Show Me The Funny will find that comic.’
Copstick added: 'People are calling it The X Factor for comics. But I think it’s more like Masterchef for comics. Which I suppose makes Alan John Torode, and me the irritating shouty one.’
Chortle has seen the first episode of the series, and while the ‘tasks’ are more about giving the TV audience some back-story about the performer’s personality, the stand-up sections capture the rough and tumble of real comedy clubs much better than such ‘shiny-floor’ shows as Live At The Apollo.
Executive producer Kenton Allen added: ‘Stand-up comedy is the toughest job in show-business and the only job in the world where you are judged every 10 seconds by a paying audience expecting big laughs. Show Me The Funny is the real deal. There is no safety net.’
MEET THE CONTESTANTS:
Alfie Moore, 47: By day, a serving police sergeant; Moore took up comedy as a hobby three years ago, after a night out at a local comedy gig with his wife. He is now performing regularly and over the past two and a half years has done more than 250 comedy gigs and 50 after-dinner speeches. He says: ‘The general perception is that cops take themselves too seriously and are too stuck-up and secretive. But if they see a copper who can laugh at himself and his organisation, that could do a lot of good.’
Cole Parker, 37: Cole started his stand-up career at the age of six after entering a talent contest in Norfolk, when he came second. He is now a regular on the stand-up circuit. He says:’I’ve had this terrific passion for stand-up since a very young age. In the past, I have been maligned as an alpha male, but you should not judge people by appearances.”
Dan Mitchell, 34: Charity worker Dan is a former undertaker who cites ‘boredom’ as the reason for his move into stand-up five years ago. Dan has since performed more than 500 gigs after starting in small pubs in the rural Welsh countryside. He says: ‘What do I love about stand-up? When it’s going well, the buzz is unlike anything else. When it fails, of course, you blame the audience!’
Ellie Taylor, 27: After seeing a friend perform a five minute set, ex-model Ellie decided she should give it a go. A keen drama student at school, Ellie went on to study at York University and has recently given up her job in corporate events to concentrate on comedy full time. She has never been paid for a gig. She says: ‘I know I can perform, but I have never gigged outside London! Please don’t say I’m brave – that’s just a polite way of saying stupid!’
Ignacio Lopez, 24: After university, Spanish barman Ignacio got a job as an usher in a cinema, to get him closer to short films; another of his big passions. His colleagues at the cinema pushed him into comedy at the end of 2009. He has only been paid for two gigs so far. He says: ‘My goal is to play to as many people as possible. It will really help me progress and I see this as a way of jumping a few steps ahead.’
Patrick Monahan, 35: Brought up on Teesside, of Irish-Iranian decent, Monahan is a stalwart of the circuit who has performed around the world. He says: ‘There are no other Irish-Iranian comedians with a northern upbringing on the circuit – I’m all three rolled into one!’
Prince Abdi, 28: A Somalian-born former primary school teacher who was once on Millwall FC’s books, Prince Abdi won the Your Comedy Star competition at the Edinburgh Festival in 2007. Despite only just going full time, he has been on the circuit for four years and recently came second in the Barbican New Act of the Year competition. He says: ‘I love doing stand-up. I could be a role model; I’m from a deprived area of London where opportunities are limited.’
Rudi Lickwood, 47: Rudi has been on the circuit for two decades after first coming onto the scene as an Eddie Murphy impersonator in 1989 aged 26. Through this, he travelled all over the world,,before developing his own stand-up routine. Rudi says: ‘Not everyone will like everything I do. I know I’m challenging the status quo in comedy. I’m not saying step over the line – I take my responsibilities very seriously, but my comedy is there to make you think.’
Stuart Goldsmith, 33: When he was younger, Stuart ran away to join the circus, but upon discovering that the circus entailed more press-ups than he deemed reasonable, he fled! He moved on to street performance and acting, before settling on stand-up. He has gone on to perform all over the UK and Europe. He says: ‘I’m used to having to claw an audience out of thin air! You walk onto a deserted street with just a suitcase and your wits, and you have to make things happen or you can’t pay the rent!’
Tiffany Stevenson, 33: Tiffany started in stand-up as the WAG character Savannah Dior, and now performs stand-up as herself. She also runs and co-hosts London’s Old Rope new material night.She says: “All comedians love trying out new material. There is nothing more satisfying than performing something and getting an instant response. I hope I can rise to the challenge.’