Set up in 2008 by Ed Chappel and now run with co-organiser Tamara Cowan, the Musical Comedy Awards celebrate emerging, up and coming musical comedians in the UK. In several heats, the contestants sing, riff, shout, rap, improvise and pounce on unsuspecting audience members (which is your own fault if you’re silly enough to sit in the front row), all in an attempt to be crowned the winner.
I was lucky enough to attend the final heat of the semi-finals at The Phoenix and watch six, sharply tongued writers battle it out. The semi-finals saw passionate, urban poet Wisebowm, infatuated ex-boyfriend Matt Hutson, mad housewife Vicky Arlidge, dry humoured Ben Kavanagh, acoustic metal duo ShitStorM and the singing inbetweener, Jamie D’Souza.
Headlining the show was the highly entertaining Rachel Parris, whose musical stories about the gym and hen parties left the audience hooting.
The show opened with Wisebowm, who dived straight into a topic sensitive to many audience members: the gluten battle. His deadpan take on an urban, misunderstood rapper left the audience in stitches as he rapped about the things that matter: staying away from gluten and always keeping hydrated. Wisebowm was a great opening act and impeccably original.
For me, the show was stolen by Jamie D’Souza, who was effortlessly funny and sailed through his set. However, Vicky Arlidge was the audience favourite as they cackled around her.
It was refreshing to see the real variety of styles each semi-finalist performed. No two acts were the same; and each act had fresh, raw material entwined in chords, beats or screams.
After an audience vote, it is ShitStorM, Jamie D’Souza and Matt Hutson going through to the finals. Although all three acts thoroughly deserve their place, Wisebowm and Ben Kavanagh took votes of mine and would have made strong finalists.
Now in the top nine, our three winners must battle it out in the finals on 9th April at the Lyric Theatre and I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table.
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