❉ Sam Michael presents the comedians you should REALLY be watching in 2017.
In the past twelve months working in stand-up comedy I’ve had the pleasure to perform alongside a variety of acts that have varied in style, tone and – dare I say it – quality. I’ve knocked around open-mic nights where the apparent theme of the evening was outnumbering the audience 50-1 with empty chairs, whilst performing and attending pro-nights and having the pleasure of supporting individuals who have become comic idols of mine.
So, I thought it would be nice to put together a list of stand-up acts that I feel the readers of We Are Cult should really need to go and see in 2017. Why did I feel the need to put together such a list?
Well, at the tale-end of 2016, chortle.co.uk, a hub for all things stand-up, decided to ask the big promoters who their ‘must-see acts’ for 2017 were and compiled a top 10 list. Would you Adam and Steve it, not only was every act white, they were all male bar one.
Now, I know these picks came at random and from different sources, therefore the fact the list is dominated by white males is not intentional. Having said that, on the circuit in the past year I’ve noticed a real diverse mix of nationalities breaking through in stand-up comedy along with a growing balance of male and female comics. Women in particular are being drawn in to the male-dominated art of stand-up, with promoters supporting the cause with female-only nights.
With this in mind, here is my own personal list of 10 comedians to really watch-out for in 2017. Feel free to knock, condemn this list, it’s just my personal opinion and before you say “Oh he’s only picking them because they’re… or…” Just don’t. The open-mic, pro-nights and competitions I’ve had the pleasure of competing/performing at have, as stated above, been diverse and with a good mix of sexes… well, at least two sexes anyway.
Describing herself as “the love-child of Marge Simpson and Sideshow Bob” due to dem curls and distinctive voice, Eliza made her debut early last year with sets that touch on personal issues such as health issues along with her absurd method of coping with the turbulent year that was 2016. In the early stages of her stand-up career, you still have the opportunity to catch Eliza perform at open-mics (primarily in the South-West of England) where you have the pleasure of hearing her evolve and create her new material almost with the audience. However, these will run their course before long, with Eliza already appearing on the bill at comedy venues such as The Komedia in Bath. Make sure to catch her Edinburgh Fringe debut this summer!
Follow Eliza on Twitter for information of up and coming gigs here: @Minilyzer
Already making the 2015 BBC New Comedy Awards finals and a regular at the London Comedy Store, 2017 is set to be the year that Athena becomes a household name. It’s very hard to watch comedians undertake the dark political subjects of 2016 and come away feeling positive, yet somehow Athena accomplishes this. There’s such an atmosphere created when she comes on stage and you find yourself intoxicated in the attitude and prominence of her presence. She’s so politically aware, witty and fucking hilarious, so make sure you go see her this year!
A list of Athena Kugblenu’s upcoming gigs can be found here: http://www.athenakugblenu.co.uk/upcoming-gigs/
To many individuals, stand-up comedy has been dominated in recent years by shock humour. The rise in fame of Dapper Laughs and internet pranksters along with subjects such as rape, murder and sexism becoming commonplace in comedy routines has turned many people off attending live comedy. Ian McDonald takes a more clean approach, with wordplay so clever and that swearing and shock tactics are proven no match for good sharp wit. He’s one of the warmest comedians I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and is so positive in his approach to comedy and his overall want for the audience’s experience of laughter that he almost writes-off the theory of ‘the sadness behind the clown’s smile’.
A semi-finalist in the ‘Laughing Horse’ national New Act competition 2015, 2017 is set to be a comp-winning year for this wordsmith. Upcoming gigs here: https://about.me/ian_macdonald
Miss Kemsley needs no introduction and she probably shouldn’t be on this list due to the successful year she’s had with her hugely successful fringe show, appearances on BBC Radio 1 and BBC 3; along with supporting Katherine Ryan on tour. However, I have included Miss (soon to be Mrs!) Kemsley for you sad mortals who for some reason may not yet experienced her latest show. Harriet is brilliantly funny; however there’s a real vulnerability and intimacy to her material. Many people say when watching a comedian, “It’s funny because it’s true!” – when watching Harriet Kemsley, you find your most intimate secrets, insecurities and anxieties reflected back at you from her act.
Destined for television success in 2017, go see her now so you can be that dick that says ‘I saw them before they were big’. Upcoming gigs here: https://harrietkemsley.com
Ahir Shah has been doing stand-up and performing at the Edinburgh Fringe since he was 17, therefore at just 25 years old he boasts many years’ experience whist having youth on his side… Lucky bastard.
Confident and personal with his audience, Ahir captures the room in a way I haven’t seen before, keeping a positive tension even through a political rant which can run deep in to personal territory.
Coming to the tail-end of his first UK tour, there’s still time to catch his show ‘Machines’, full details of where and when here: http://ahirshah.com
Musical comedian with a guitar… No, wait… Wait! Come back!
David Hoare quite simply isn’t big enough for the quality of his material and high standard of his performing. I’ve had the pleasure of performing on the same open-mics as David and his act has nearly always been the highlight of my evening. He doesn’t have a website: I did a Google search for David Hoare and found an article in the Independent online reading “Ofsted chairman David Hoare describes Isle of Wight as ‘inbred, poor, white ghetto’”.
Now, I can’t confirm for sure that this isn’t the same David (it’s not) but if it is, this statement is less controversial than his song about his dislike for cheese.
As stated he doesn’t have a website but you can enjoy some of his songs on his YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/treehead89/
Another comedian who’s coming out of a successful 2016, Ken Cheng made the BBC Radio New Comedian of the Year finals in 2015 with his incredible ‘two birds, one stone’ piece that currently has over half a million views online. A personal influence of mine when it came to getting in to comedy, Ken Cheng is another comedian I expect to see on television during 2017 following his appearances in Flat TV and BBC Three viral comedy shorts. One of the most interesting characters and performers in the industry right now, his latest show ‘World’s Best Dad’ is the must-see show of 2017.
Ken Cheng debuts ‘World’s Best Dad’ at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge on 17 January – details here: https://www.adctheatre.com/whats-on/comedy/ken-cheng-best-dad-ever/
On a dark cold night downstairs at the King’s Head, where the audience were pissed up on their Christmas parties, I had one of the worst gig experiences of my life. One person who didn’t suffer on that same night was the brilliant Stasia Buckle, who injected the uneasy room with energy and presence that had me on the edge of my seat. Fitting in (but not at any point rushing) what felt like fifteen minutes of material into her five minute set, Stasia would have been forgiven for leaving with a mic-drop. The Bristol-based comedian is already an actress and accomplished playwright, with her comedy sketch-show ‘Suicide and Crumble’ (starring ‘Inbetweeners’ Blake Harrison) so if you see the name in 2017, go see her!
Catch Stasia on the latest episode of the Darryl and Daryl Unfinished Podcast here: http://darrylanddaryl.libsyn.com/episode-29-live-with-morgan-rees-stasia-buckle-and-david-hoare
I wanted to include at least one video in this article, but just one. I want you to go out and find these comedians, not just sit online and watch them. However, I decided to show this video because it’s recorded at the very gig I first saw Natasha Smith, a comedian who isn’t afraid to take every tragedy life has thrown at her and turn it in to an incredible routine. This was also the first time Natasha performed this material, enjoy!
What can you say about Phil Lucas? If you live in Brighton you’ll be aware of his work – I don’t want to use the term artist but when you amend a statue of Vladimir Putin riding a bear in to a Texan Cowboy using a Pringle and cheese, it’s hard not to label Mr Lucas a visionary.
Although he’s been on the comedy circuits for years, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as violently as I have watching a Phil Lucas presentation. A visual, musical episode of madness makes him the perfect headliner to any comedy night, which is why he’s at the top of this list. I want to see this guy present his sexy postboxes and Kate Garraway stalking methods and art to the 02 Arena, and if I ever win the lottery, I will make that happen. Not only is he one of the most enjoyable acts I’ve seen this year, he’s also one of the most lovely and humble comedian’s I’ve met.
Up and coming gigs here: http://www.phillucas.com/
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