Stand-up comedian Romesh Ranganathan has been named the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2013.
A 34 year-old ex-maths teacher from Crawley, Ranganathan took up stand-up three years ago. He was a semi-finalist in the Laughing Horse New Act of The Year 2010 contest, a So You Think You're Funny? finalist is the same year, and the Latitude New Act of The Year 2010. As well as supporting well known comedy names such as Seann Walsh, Andi Osho and Paul Chowdhry, in 2012 Romesh also took on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Of winning the award, he said: "Tonight's line-up was so strong I never thought I stood a chance of winning. Everyone on stage tonight will go on to become brilliant comedians. Comedy has always been a passion for me and now it's really taken off."
Now in its 19th year, Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Award is the prestigious stand-up competition which aims to locate up-and-coming stand-up stars of the future. Previous winners include Rhod Gilbert, Jason Manford, Johnny Vegas and Mitch Benn. 2011's joint winners were Tom Rosenthal and Ben Target, and the hotly tipped Matt Rees was chosen in 2012.
Ranganathan was declared the 2013 winner at a sold-out final at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival on Saturday night (23rd February). Fellow up-and-coming stand-ups Mark Simmons and Lucy Beaumont were named joint runners up.
The winners were chosen by an industry panel comprising of Steve North (UKTV Dave), Mick Perrin (Promoter), Sarah Farrell (Comedy Central), Bruce Dessau (Evening Standard), Andy Leitch (Off The Kerb) and Paul Banks (Leicester Mercury).
Geoff Rowe, the Director of the Leicester Comedy Festival, said of this year's competition: "The judges all felt the standard was extremely high. The variety and diversity of comedic talent on display tonight proves that British comedy is in rude health."