Gamble pays off

Chortle's first student finalist

Durham Revue member Ed Gamble won the first heat of Chortle’s student comedy contest last night.

The 20-year-old philosophy student triumphed at the Newcastle University gig with his character Selsdon Krupp, a writer of poor-quality romantic fiction.

He now wins a place at the final at the Edinburgh fringe this summer, where he stands to win the £2,500 first prize.

The Revels Student Comedy Competition will visit another 11 campuses over the coming four weeks. Each show also features a top circuit headliner and MC.

And as from early next week, clips of the performances will be available on the competition microsite on Chortle, and you’ll be able to vote for your favourite – with the People’s Choice winner also securing a place in the Edinburgh final.


Before tonight’s heat, the smart money would probably have been on Chris Martin triumphing. The runner-up in last year’s competition, Newcastle is his home gig and he’s been gigging hard in the 12 months since.

On the night, too, he had a fantastic show. In assured control of the room, he regaled the capacity audience with witty, well-told anecdotes, earning regular, hearty laughs with a very strong set.

Yet with such a strong line-up, even this was not enough to get him through. As he said afterwards: ‘The standard at this heat was as good as last year’s final.’

And he was right.

The man who did make it through, Ed Gamble, performed very strongly in the character of romantic novelist Selsdon Krupp, a man who is never lost for words – even if they’re the wrong ones. He mostly read appalling passages from his book, full of clunky metaphors and overwrought prose. It takes a good writer to write this badly, and Gamble performed Krupp – a man with a touch of the Garth Marenghi to him - expertly.

He was one of several characters on the night. Thomas Neenan was Hammer Horror actor Vikram Probos, whose entertaining set was also rich in delicious turns of phrase and pointless showbiz anecdotes; while Phil O’Meara performed as chavvy character Warren Dillip, an overfamiliar stereotype who didn’t have enough to capture the audience’s interest.

Jenni Armstrong deserves mention, and not just for battling through laryngitis to perform. Quirkily illustrated with home-made drawings, her appealing routine had a distinctive blend of whimsy and silliness that produced plenty of laughs.

Sean McLoughlin had a touch of Milton Jones about him, with unkempt hair and shabby pullover. He had a neat, slightly dark, style – and although his persona appeared less developed than some of the other acts on the bill, his stand-up shows promise.

Danny Case was more of a typical stand-up, talking about body hair, his fat girlfriend and meeting the in-laws, with references to Aliens thrown in for good measure. The voice may not be distinctive enough, but he had a appealing stage energy.

Nishan Kumar was stronger, taking a surprisingly playful approach to racism, so removing its sting, and talking about a condition he has that he described as ‘like a poor man’s Parkinson’s.’ He’s interesting to listen to, and has smart gags to go with it. You can see him – like so many others on tonight’s bill – having a future in comedy.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
February 15, 2007

Published: 16 Feb 2007

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