It's nearly time for the final of the Musical Comedy Awards 2018! The competition, which is now in its 10th year, aims to find the best new musical comedians in the country. With the likes of Frisky & Manish, Abandoman, Jay Foreman, Rob Carter, Rachel Parris and David Elms having performed in previous finals, it's a remit the competition succeeds in.
Over the last few months, across a series of packed-out heats, this year's many entrants have been whittled down to the top 10, one of which will now go on to be crowned the winner at the final on Saturday 7th April.
Here's the biographies the selected acts have provided:
Bolton born Cassie Atkinson is a writer/performer who can be found gigging about with character comedy and silly songs. Cassie's words have been heard on Radio 4 and her face has popped up on E4 and ITV. She's also part of sketch group Northern Power Blouse.
Dave Bibby is a regular on the stand-up circuit and was awarded 'Best Male Act' at the SOLO Festival for his one man show Stories From The Spectrum. He has also written for BBC Radio 4 shows Newsjack, The Show What You Wrote and Sketchorama.
Luke Courtier was a finalist in the Musical Comedy Awards 2015 and Amused Moose Laugh Off. His Edinburgh show Lunch was in the Huffington Post's Top 10 Picks Of The Fringe 2016. He has been a regular guest presenter on Fubar Radio and his online videos (for The Hook and Made In Shoreditch) have jointly reached over half a million views. He also wrote the music for and appeared in Lily Bevan's Pheasant Plucker at the Bush Theatre RADAR Festival. His play The Texas Tax Man enjoyed a sold out run at Vault Festival 2017 and won the Vault Comedy Award.
Matt Hutson is a delicate flower with the voice of an angel. When he feels, he feels, he really feels. Armed only with his guitar and a few poorly conceived coping strategies, Matt sings sensitive songs about keeping it together. Over the past few years Matt has claimed third place in the Musical Comedy Awards 2017 and won The Cavendish Arms Summer Competition in 2016. He has also written and performed comedy songs live on Sky Sports and for Soccer AM.
Joe Jacobs is a London based comedian, rapper and writer. Since 2012, he has performed nationally and internationally, sharing bills with acts including Bill Burr, Stewart Lee and Mr Motivator. His live shows effortlessly flit between hip hop and comedy and he's been seen/heard on Channel 4, BBC Radio 4, BBC 6 Music, Radio 1XTRA, plus gained millions of viral video views online. In addition to stand-up, as solo artist Jester Jacobs, he's released regular music since his debut Mental Disorder in 2008.
Archie Henderson writes musical comedy that is twice as clever as he knows it is and half as humble as he thinks it is. He is a member of multi-award-winning sketch group Two Plus Ones, his videos have amassed 200,000 views online.
Stiff & Kitsch
Stiff and Kitsch are the award winning comedy paring of Sally O'Leary and Rhiannon Neads; formed in 2016 after graduating from LAMDA. You may recognise them as the girls trying to flog you Kinder Bueno and failing to be adults. Completing the gang is the safe pair of hands which is MD James Taylor (not that one), who luckily came with his own keyboard. They took their debut show Adele Is Younger Than Us to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 to sell out audiences, and returned with it in 2017 alongside their 5* work in progress show By All Accounts Two Normal Girls. It also won a Comedy Award at Vault Festival in 2017.
Individually, Rhiannon recently placed as runner up in the Funny Women Comedy Writing Award and Sally is one third of multi-award winning sketch group Muriel.
Ava Rage (Lorna Shaw)
Lorna has performed sell-out shows to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh fringe between 2011 and 2014 with duo That Pair (Soho Theatre, BBC Radio 4). As a solo act Lorna made her debut at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017 as her musical alter-ego, Ava Rage, and was featured in Best Jokes of the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival (Evening Standard).
Stephen Frizzle is a Songruiner. Armed with a piano, he will take the songs you know and love and mess around with the lyrics until you don't want to know or love them anymore. It's better than it sounds.
Bennet Kavanagh (who despite the name is not a girl) started writing and performing sketch comedy at university in Leeds, where he also began performing his surreal brand of stand-up and musical comedy. His comedy covers a wide range of topics including heist films, romantic songs, colour blindness, table tennis, and his experiences of working in a call centre.
He has now performed with his homemade keytar at clubs across the country - including Up the Creek, the Leicester Square Theatre and the London Comedy Store - and recently supported acts such as Phil Wang and Simon Evans. Bennet co-wrote and performed in a comedy musical Bendiana Jones and the Temple of Huge at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017.
These ten acts will all perform sets at the final, after which a panel of industry judges will select the winner. There'll also be a cash prize for Audience Favourite, judged by sponsors WeGotTickets.
This year's final will start at 7:30pm on Saturday 7th April, on London's South Bank as part of the Underbelly Festival. Hosted by Miss Frisky, the show will also feature a performance by Charlotte Brooke, who was named this year's Best Newcomer, plus see a set from 2017 winner Will Hislop.
If you love musical comedy, the competition's 10 year celebration show on the 12th May at the same venue will also likely appeal. Rachel Parris, The Brett Domino Trio, Jenny Bede, Femmes on the Thames and Jollyboat - acts who have previously wowed audiences in the competition - are set to perform at this showcase event.