Stand-up comedian Kai Samra has won the Breaking Talent Award 2017 at the Birmingham Comedy Festival.
The young comic picked up his prize at a final held at the packed Glee Club on Friday night (6th October 2017).
The Handsworth-born comedian, whose family later moved to Warwick, has been performing stand-up for just 18 months, but impressed the judging panel with his "confident and relaxed delivery", and exploration of such topics as the difficulties of tackling gun and knife crime, class and race, family, and the challenges of finding suitable attire for fancy dress parties.
A collaboration between the award-winning Birmingham festival and The Glee Club, and sponsored by Edinburgh Gin, the Breaking Talent Award has been running for four years. It aims to recognise and support emerging comedic talent from the city and wider West Midlands.
"It means a lot to me," said Kai of his award. "The other competitors were really amazing and it was nice to be nominated and represent Birmingham."
As former member of Warwickshire's indie band Paris Pickpockets, Kai looked set to make his name in music. But despite signing to The Arctic Monkeys' management company and supporting The Libertines, he's since turned his attention to writing and performing comedy.
Describing his style of stand-up, he said: "It's observational, political. I try to do stuff that other people don't, to take a fresh perspective on subjects like race, politics."
Recently moving to Kilburn, London, 27 year-old Kai is developing several writing and interview-based projects, including his own sitcom, The 27 Club - a reference to a long list of stars who all died tragically at the age of 27, including Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. "I wrote it before I started stand-up," explained Kai. "We're going to do a pilot ourselves and try and sell it to a production company."
Discussing his future plans, he added: "I love writing things, I love filming things... my aim is to work as hard as possible."
Kai faced stiff competition from four other West Midland acts: Staffordshire's Eric Rushton, who parodied Theresa May's Conservative Party Conference disaster with a cough and a P45; the 'dark and unexpected' Rob Kemp from Wednesbury; Alex Black, who treated audiences to a music skit on social media based around the greatest hits of The Police; and Gemma Layton, aka Black Country cabaret singer/stalker Beverley Vegas.
The competing acts were selected to take part in the final by a team of established comedy professionals including James Cook (the final's MC), Adam Jaremko (Glee booker), Maureen Younger (comedian) and Josh Pugh (2015 winner).
A spokesperson for the festival said: "All the acts were incredibly strong and all very different, which really demonstrates the richness and strength of the West Midlands comedy scene, but in the end the judges decided that Kai was the stand-out performer. We wish him all the best and are confident we'll be seeing more from Kai in the very near future."
The Birmingham Comedy Festival 2017 kicked off on Friday 6th October and continues at various venues across the city until Sunday 15th October. To find out more about the festival visit bhamcomfest.co.uk