The comics to watch in 2020 | We ask the experts...

The comics to watch in 2020

We ask the experts...

Who are the comedians you’ll be seeing more of in 2020? We asked a handful of business insiders – bookers, promoters and producers who witness hundreds of comedians a year – who are their ‘ones to watch’ for the next 12 months. We left it up to them to decide what the criteria was for tipping a breakthrough, whether on the circuit, critical acclaim or on to TV. And this is what they told us…

Rachel Fairburn

The choice of Jessica Toomey, who runs the Frog and Bucket Comedy Club and Manchester’s Women in Comedy Festival. She said.

'I expect Rachel will really see her career accelerate in 2020, she has already found great success as one half of All Killa no Filla and recently had her first TV appearance, but she is also an exceptional club comic and has great success with her one-hour shows and sold the most tickets during the Women in Comedy festival. 

'The North West has created some amazing working class female comedians such as Caroline Aherne and Victoria Wood and Rachel is the woman to fill those shoes and follow in their success.  With a small stature she has a huge presence and can be as obnoxious as she wants on stage without ever losing her endearing quality.  She manages to keep her comedy edgy whilst accessible and relatable to a wide audience.

'If I was a gambling woman I’d have to put my money on Rachel appearing much more on our TVs in 2020.’

Morgan Rees

The choice of Ed Strong, who runs Chuckle Busters in Bristol. He said:

'In a local scene with lots of strong acts, Morgan has really stood out from the crowd over the last couple of years with his quick wit and unique turn of phrase. He always goes down well with audiences whether MCing or on the bill and has the ability to win round tough rooms as well as keeping things relaxed for new material nights.

'Another thing that always strikes me about Morgan is his work rate - he's constantly honing and reworking material to keep it fresh and add extra laughs, in addition to writing new material and experimenting with structure. Morgan will be bringing his debut to Edinburgh this year and I'm expecting big things!

Janine Harouni

The choice of James Woroniecki, who runs the 99 Clubs in Central London. He said: 

'Janine was a highly deserving winner (alongside the excellent Helen Bauer) of our annual Female Comics' bursary. It's been no surprise to see her go on to scoop just about every other award going this year! 

'Her impeccable performance and writing skills are even more impressive given her short time on the circuit. Janine's acclaimed Edinburgh show last year was a perfectly structured combination of hilarious lines, moving revelations and sardonic wit.  'Her superb work as a solo comedian also complements her achievements with hilarious sketch group Muriel and her work as an actress, guesting in shows like Sky One's Patrick Melrose. 

'This remarkable multi-faceted talent combined with a rigorous work ethic means that we are certain to see much more of her on our TV screens in the near future.

Connor Burns

The choice of Ross McKail, who is the booker of the Red Raw new act nights run at The Stand comedy clubs in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. He said:

‘Connor has been a regular at our Red Raw beginner’s night since 2018 and has gone from strength to strength since. He hadn’t even done his first ten-minute slot with us  before he had been asked to support Larry Dean and delivered an outstanding opening. 

'The 2019 Fringe was a big one for Connor - it looked like he was doing 100 shows a day including appearances at our Best of Red Raw shows, where he was often the highlight of the night. 

'With this work ethic it’s clear that he’ll go far. Now a regular on our weekend bills at Edinburgh and Glasgow, Connor has delivered every time he’s been called upon and is clearly already well respected by his contemporaries, despite his relatively short time on the Scottish comedy scene. 

'It’s clear that Connor is a comedian with a lot of potential and has already achieved a great amount in a comparatively short time span. We hope to have him gigging with us for many years in the future as there’s obviously still lots more to come from him.

Wil Hodgson 

The choice of Chris Evans, who runs the Cardiff-based indie DVD label Go Faster Stripe. He said: 

‘I heard a rumour that Wil Hodgson (who won the best newcomer Perrier Award in 2004) might be coming out of semi retirement this year, and it’s the most exciting news I’ve heard in ages.

'The first time I saw Wil, I was completely blown away. I’ve seen a lot of stand-up, but none with his distinctive style - he doesn’t make eye contact or move at all in his set, yet he still adeptly covers everything from biting social commentary to pop culture. 

‘In his time away from the stage he’s been far from idle - he runs a barber shop in Chippenham with his lovely wife, as well as a weekly comedy night in his local pub and the best festival in the world, the annual Chippenham Comedy Festival.

‘He is the only person I follow on social media where I agree with every single word he says. I think the world would be a better place if he had some position of authority, maybe if he was the editor of one of those tabloid newspapers or something But for now I am very much looking forward to hearing what he’s got for us this year. If the rumours are true, we are lucky to have him back.’

Published: 2 Jan 2020

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