Nina Gilligan

Nina Gilligan

Nina Gilligan started comedy in 2011, and made it to the semi-finals of a couple of new act competitions before winning Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2021
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© Sammy Staniforth / Crosscut Media

Nina Gilligan crowned Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year

First live comedy competition of 2021

Nina Gilligan has been named Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year, a decade after starting her stand-up career.

She had previously been Hot Water Comedian of the Year in 2013 and was a finalist in English Comedian of the Year 2016 and describes her style as ‘sometimes outrageous observational and storytelling comedy for all’.

The runner-up award went to Joseph Emslie, who began performing stand-up in 2016.

Hosted by Eshaan Akbar, last night’s final at The Y Theatre, Leicester, was the first live national comedy competition this year.

Eight comedians from across the UK took part – also including Arielle Souma, Christian Jegard, Dan Tiernan, Hassan Dervish, Jessie Nixon and Liz Guterbock – after being nominated by comedy promoters from around the country. 

Geoff Rowe, founding director of Leicester Comedy Festival, said: ‘Huge congratulations to Nina Gilligan on winning the competition. It’s great to welcome her to our comedy hall of fame, alongside some amazing past winners.’

Those previous winners  include Jason ManfordJohnny Vegas, Rhod Gilbert, Josh Widdicombe and Romesh Ranganathan.

Here are some highlights from the final:

The competition has taken place each February, as part of the annual Leicester Comedy Festival since 1995, but was postponed earlier this year due to the Covid lockdown. 

Judges were Pax Lowey, comedy programmer at Southbank Centre, agent Corrie McGuire, reviewer  Bruce Dessau, promoter Colin Bowles and Ian Walker from Union Jack Radio, which sponsored the runner-up prize.

The nominating promoters this year were Jessica Toomey from the Frog & Bucket in Manchester, Toby Foster from Last Laugh Comedy in Sheffield, Jill Edwards, who runs comedy workshops in Brighton, Barry Ferns from London’s Angel Comedy and Ed Strong from Bristol-based Chuckle Busters.

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Published: 6 Jun 2021

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Nina Gilligan – Broad Shoulders


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