LONDON, Tuesday 12th July 2011: Stand-up comedy is one of the toughest jobs in showbiz and ITV1’s new seven-part reality series, Show Me The Funny, is on the hunt for the next stand-up superstar in comedy.
Beginning at 9pm on Monday 18th July and hosted by award-winning comedian Jason Manford, Show Me The Funny features 10 comedians with varying levels of experience as they battle it out to win the ultimate prize in British comedy; £100,000, a nationwide multi-date UK tour throughout September and their very own DVD at Christmas.
Over six grueling weeks, the funnymen – and women – will be sent to all corners of the country and tasked with various challenges, with the winners deciding the running order of that week’s gig. The series will culminate in a live final where the remaining comedians will play to the biggest audience of their careers at London’s world-famous Hammersmith Apollo, in front of a 3,000 strong audience and millions of voting viewers at home.
Each week, the comedians aim is to find inspiration for five minutes of material to be performed at a gig in an unusual venue and to potentially raucous crowds, before facing the scrutiny of the judges. From a hospital and an army base to a secondary school and rugby club, the group will be followed as they complete their tasks and deal with the pressures of writing and performing fresh material.
The climax of each show will see the comedians come face-to-face with the judges; the much-loved comedian Alan Davies and the much-feared comedy critic Kate Copstick. They will decide who has made the cut for the next gig and who will find themselves on their way home. Each week, Alan and Kate will be joined by a revolving roster of some of the best known names in UK comedy including Jo Brand, Johnny Vegas, Bob Mortimer, Ross Noble, Cannon & Ball and Jimmy Tarbuck, to assist in their decision.
The 10 comedians, who all love making people laugh, but have yet to find their big break, feature fresh-faced newcomers to seasoned professionals, including a serving police officer, a former undertaker and an ex-professional model. One of the comedians has never been paid for a gig, another recently quit their job to do stand-up full time, and one is using annual leave from their regular job to compete in the show, whilst others have been making a full-time living out of the profession for years.
Jason Manford said: “Stand-up comedy has never been bigger and there has never been a better time to make this show. I’m excited to be involved in the series – it’s very rare to have the ability to make pretty much anyone laugh, and I hope Show Me The Funny will find that comic.”
Alan Davies commented: “After years on the circuit, I know exactly what it’s like to deal with the pressures of making an audience laugh and this is an extremely tough challenge.”
Kate Copstick commented: “People are calling it The X Factor for comics. But I think it’s more like Masterchef for comics. Which I suppose makes Alan John Torode, and me the irritating shouty one.”
Executive Producer and CEO of Big Talk Productions, Kenton Allen, said: “Stand-up comedy is the toughest job in show-business and the only job in the world where you are judged every 10 seconds by a paying audience expecting big laughs. Show Me The Funny is the real deal. There is no safety net. Expect to laugh your socks off, cry your eyes out, and some parts are best watched through your fingers.”
Making people laugh isn’t as easy as it sounds, and Show Me The Funny will reveal to the audience at home the pressures, creativity and nerve involved in pulling off the ultimate stand-up routine.
This is the ultimate search for comedies next big thing. It’s survival of the funniest.
The Show Me The Funny website –www.itv.com/funny – will feature clips from each episode, web chats with the judges, plus all the information you need on the show and the 10 competing comedians. You can also follow the series and join in the conversation on Twitter – @showmethefunny or by using the #smtf hashtag – and Facebook –
The Show Me The Funny Tour will be promoted by leading Comedy Promoter of Live Comedy in the UK, Phil McIntyre Entertainments (Peter Kay, John Cleese, Ed Byrne, John Bishop, Bill Bailey). The DVD of the tour will be released by 2Entertain, the number one DVD distributor for British Comedy (Lee Evans, Stewart Lee, Tim Vine, Harry Hill).
Show Me The Funny is a Big Talk Productions show for ITV1. Kenton Allen is Executive Producer, Martyn Smith is Series Editor. Claire Zolkwer is the Commissioning Editor, Comedy & Entertainment for ITV.
Show Me The Funny will air on ITV1, and ITV1 HD.
MEET THE COMEDIANS
From left to right: Stuart Goldsmith, Patrick Monahan, Cole Parker, Prince Abdi, Ellie Taylor, Jason Manford, Tiffany Stevenson, Rudi Lickwood, Ignacio Lopez, Dan Mitchell, Alfie Moore
By day, Alfie is a serving Police Sergeant; by night, he is a stand-up comedian. Comedy was firstly a hobby, ignited by Alfie 3 years ago, after a night out at a local comedy gig with his wife. He was very inspired by the acts and desperate to get up on stage and give it a go. Alfie is now performing regularly and over the past two and a half years has done over 250 comedy gigs and 50 after-dinner speeches.
Alfie Says: “The general perception is that cops take themselves too seriously and are too stuck-up and secretive. But if they see a copper who can laugh at himself and his organisation, that could do a lot of good.”
Cole started his stand-up career at the age of six after entering a talent contest in Norfolk. Despite coming second, Cole was undeterred and a love of stand-up was born. Something of a bad-boy, Cole has a reputation for being a smart, solid act who can handle any audience. Popular on the comedy circuit, he regular plays all the big clubs country wide and internationally.
Cole says:“I’ve had this terrific passion for stand-up since a very young age. In the past, I have been maligned as an alpha male, but you should not judge people by appearances.”
Charity worked Dan is a former Undertaker who sites “boredom” as the reason for his move into stand-up five years ago. Dan has since performed over 500 gigs after starting in small pubs in the rural Welsh countryside. He has performed at a variety of places from the Green Man Festival where he was critically acclaimed, to being booed off stage in a strip joint.
Dan says: “What do I love about stand-up? When it’s going well, the buzz is unlike anything else. When it fails, of course, you blame the audience!”
After seeing a friend perform a five minute set, ex-model Ellie decided she should give it a go. A keen drama student at school, Ellie went on to study at York University and has recently given up her job in corporate events to concentrate on comedy full time. She has never been paid for a gig.
Ellie says: “I know I can perform, but I have never gigged outside London! Please don’t say I’m brave – that’s just a polite way of saying stupid!”
After University, Spanish barman, Ignacio got a job as an usher in a cinema, to get him closer to short films; another of his big passions. His colleagues at the cinema pushed him into comedy at the end of 2009 and he hasn’t looked back, despite being only paid for two gigs so far.
Ignacio says: “My goal is to play to as many people as possible. It will really help me progress and I see this as a way of jumping a few steps ahead.”
Patrick may well be the only stand-up in the world of Irish-Iranian decent, but brought up on Teeside. He sees his background as a real bonus and credits talking about it as his breakthrough. Patrick has headlined the prestigious Comedy Store and performed around the world from the west of Ireland to Dubai.
Pat says: “There are no other Irish-Iranian comedians with a northern upbringing on the circuit – I’m all three rolled into one!”
A Somalian-born, former primary school teacher who was once on Millwall FC’s books, Prince Abdi won the Your Comedy Star competition at the Edinburgh Festival in 2007. Despite only just going full time, he has been on the circuit for four years and recently came second in the Barbican New Act of the Year competition.
Prince says: “I love doing stand-up. I could be a role model;I’m from a deprived area of London where opportunities are limited.”
Rudi has been on the circuit for the best part of two decades after first coming onto the comedy scene as an Eddie Murphy look-a-like in 1989 aged 26. Through this, he travelled all over the world, and when Beverley Hills Cop was released he was sent to Scandinavia, where he basically lived a celebrity lifestyle.
Rudi says: “Not everyone will like everything I do. I know I’m challenging the status quo in comedy. I’m not saying step over the line – I take my responsibilities very seriously, but my comedy is there to make you think.”
When he was younger, Stuart ran away to join the circus, but upon discovering that the circus entailed more press-ups than he deemed reasonable, he fled! He moved on to street performance and acting, before settling on stand-up. He has gone on to perform all over the UK and Europe and he has supported sell-out comedians Mark Watson and Paul Sinha on their national tours.
Stuart says: “I’m used to having to claw an audience out of thin air! You walk onto a deserted street with just a suitcase and your wits, and you have to make things happen or you can’t pay the rent!”
Tiff’s route to stand up has been quite diverse, but since taking the mic in 2006, where she initially performed as her WAG character ‘Savannah Dior’ she has been ahead of the curve. Tiffany also runs and co-hosts “Old Rope”, a weekly new material night with the award winning Phil Nichol at The Phoenix in London.
Tiffany says: “All comedians love trying out new material. There is nothing more satisfying than performing something and getting an instant response. I hope I can rise to the challenge.”
Jason Manford – Host
Jason Manford is a writer, comedian, actor, radio and television presenter. He was tipped to be a comedian from a very young age, but despite being a joker in his youth, Jason only got into comedy by chance. After leaving school at the age of 17, he began collecting glasses at the Buzz Comedy Club in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. One night a comedian didn’t turn up, so Jason filled in. Six gigs later, he was crowned The City Life North West Comedian of the Year.
His first major television appearance was as a guest on the Channel 4 panel show, 8 out of 10 cats, hosted by Jimmy Carr. He later went on to replace Dave Spikey as Team Captain in 2007 and continued for five series.
Jason has presented several TV shows including; Tonightly the topical comedy entertainment show for Channel 4 (2008) and the comedy entertainment show Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford for ITV1 (2010). He has just finished filming the second series of the ITV1 comedy game show Odd One In which is on air now. He is also currently on tour, which is running until November 2011, by which time he will have entertained over 300,000 people live with this show, sharing hilarious tales of shower mishaps, visiting “dangerous” animals and nappies. His first book – a hilarious yet warm memoir of growing up funny in a big working class Manchester family and his second DVD – Jason Manford Live; are both released in the autumn.
Jason cites Billy Connolly as the first comedian he saw when he was 9 years old, and as the very first inspiration for him to become a comedian. Peter Kay helped him at the beginning of his career offering Jason advice and sharing contacts.
Alan Davies – Judge
Alan Davies began performing stand-up comedy in 1988 just five months after leaving university, with a three month stint in Canada performing at various Fringe Festivals and Comedy Clubs. Upon his return, he secured a TV spot within six months. In 1991, he was named Time Out’s Best Young Comic. He appeared on Tonight with Jonathan Ross in 1992 and continued touring and performing in the UK and Canada, winning the Edinburgh Festival Critics Award for Comedy in 1994.
In 1998, a DVD of his most successful stand-up tour, Urban Trauma was released following a sell-out season at the Duchess Theatre. It was later shown on BBC One.
Alan’s best known acting role is as the title character in the BAFTA-winning BBC drama, Jonathan Creek. He is also a permanent panelist on multi-award winning BBC quiz show, QI. His most recent acting role was the title character Roland White in the BBC Comedy Whites.
Kate Copstick – Judge
Kate Copstick has judged on numerous comedy awards including the Perrier, Amused Moose, SYTYF and Malcolm Hardee Awards. The first person to give Michael McIntyre a five star review, Kate Copstick has seen more live comedy, and spotted more new talent, than any other comedy critic in the UK.
For years she has been the most controversial critic at the Edinburgh Festival, with a fearsome reputation on the circuit as being the toughest of the tough, who can either make or break a career. Love her or hate her, her opinions are often stark, honest and occasionally brutal.
Her one woman show – Hardly Camp at All played New York, and at the 2001 and 2002 Edinburgh Festival she was described as “the future of Comedy”.
She appeared on On the Waterfront with Andrew O’Connor which gained cult status because of their parody “The Flashin Blade” created by Russell T Davies. She was a regular on Channel 4’s Biteback and After The News.
She has worked extensively with Jimmy Logan and has also shared stage, and/or screen time with, variously, Tom O’Connor, Bernard Manning, Nicholas Parsons, Fry and Laurie, Graham Norton, Richard O’Brien, The Chuckle Brothers, Basil Brush, John Inman and every major drag queen in London and Blackpool.
Kate Copstick has appeared on dozens of comedy panel shows and performed stand-up on many regional TV shows across the country.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Show Me The Funny Tour and DVD:
The winner will be voted for by the audience at home in a live final due to air in August. They will go on to headline their own stand up tour promoted by leading Comedy Promoter of Live Comedy in the UK, Phil McIntyre Entertainments, across the UK on the following dates*:
*Dates and venue subject to change and further dates may be added
The DVD of the tour will be released by 2Entertain, the number one DVD distributor for British Comedy.
About Big Talk Productions:
Big Talk is one of the UK’s leading film and television production companies. Launched by Nira Park in 1995, it has an impeccable track record in developing talent such as Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright whose cult television series Spaced paved the way for Big Talk’s first hit films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
In 2007 Matthew Justice (Hallam Foe, Blade) joined as Managing Director to help develop the company and in 2008 former BBC Creative Head Of Comedy Kenton Allen (That Mitchell and Webb Look, The Royle Family and the Oscar-winning Six Shooter) joined as Chief Executive together with a simultaneous strategic investment from BBC Worldwide. Big Talk now has a dynamic slate of original television with all the major UK broadcasters and continues to attract exceptional talent. Simon Curtis (Cranford, Five Days), Robert Popper (Peep Show, Look Around You, Friday Night Dinner) and Luke Alkin (Former Head of Channel 4 Drama) are all part of the core creative team.
In 2010 two new six-part comedies were broadcast to record audiences and huge critical acclaim: the BAFTA-winning Rev. (BBC Two), starring Tom Hollander, and Him & Her (BBC Three) starring Russell Tovey.
This year Channel 4 broadcast Big Talk’s first co-production with Popper Pictures, Friday Night Dinner starring Tamsin Grieg, Paul Ritter, Simon Bird & Tom Rosenthal, and commissioned a second series following its ratings and critical success. Current productions include second series of Rev. and Him & Her, and new commissions The Pranker starring Ross Lee (with Running Bare Films for BBC Three) and Chickens (Channel 4) written by and starring Simon Bird, Joe Thomas and Jonny Sweet and directed by Steve Bendelack(The League of Gentlemen). Threesome (Comedy Central) is a brand new sitcom by Tom MacRae, starring Amy Huberman, Emun Elliot and Stephen Wight.
Big Talk is now also the home of entertainment formats Show Me The Funny (ITV) a nationwide death-by-comedy contest for stand-ups culminating in a live final, presented by Jason Manford, and King Of … (Channel 4) a comedy chat show hosted by Claudia Winkleman.
Big Talk Productions has also made its mark in America; NBC has commissioned a series based on their Channel 4 show Free Agents. Starring Hank Azaria, it will be broadcast in the US from September.
In film, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, starring Michael Cera and directed by Edgar Wright, has been hailed as a ‘modern masterpiece’.Paul, written by and starring Simon Pegg& Nick Frost and directed by Greg Mottola has been a huge hit worldwide. Attack the Block, written and directed by Joe Cornish, has been released in the UK to stellar reviews and will open in the US this summer.