Hasan Al-Habib wins Birmingham's Breaking Talent Award | City's comedy festival gets under way

Hasan Al-Habib wins Birmingham's Breaking Talent Award

City's comedy festival gets under way

Hasan Al-Habib has won the Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2023.

The comic was presented with his prize by fellow stand-up Aurie Styla during the final at Birmingham's Glee Club last night, launching the city’s 2023 comedy festival.

In his winning set, Al-Habib recalled school racism, pondered an Iraq version of Mamma Mia and discussed how not everyone knows what oncology is.

Born in London, Al-Habib moved to Lickey Hills, Bromsgrove, on the outskirts of Birmingham, at the age of two. Finding himself bullied at school in the wake of 9/11 for being Muslim, he discovered comedy could be a formidable defence.

‘I learned that if you’re funny, they can’t make fun of you,’ he said.

He ‘got to know the basics’ of stand-up while performing to university friends and was a finalist in the Chortle Student Comedy Award 2022.

Now a civil servant, he moved back to London last year and said: ‘I love stand-up, but I want to try acting too – I’d love to do comic acting.

‘Sometimes I have ideas and I can’t expand them on stage, they need others, so I’d love to do a sitcom, to write. Documentaries as well! I liked the idea of me, as a British Iraqi comedian, doing a documentary about going to Iraq – Iraqi culture has such a heavy emphasis on humour.’

The rising comedian beat competition from four other emerging acts from the West Midlands: Chris Yates, Josh Reynolds, Rachel Baker and Joe Bingham.

A spokesperson for the festival said: ‘All the acts did brilliantly - really underlining the exceptional comedy talent here in the region. But Hasan stood out. Clearly a man of many talents, his material, delivery and his stage presence were all strong. We can’t wait to see what direction his comedy takes him.’

Previous winners of the title have included Josh Pugh, Celya AB and Andrew McBurney.

Here is Al-Habib’s set at last year’s Chortle student comedy final.

For more information about the Birmingham Comedy Festival, which runs until next Sunday, visit bhamcomfest.co.uk

Published: 7 Oct 2023

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