Joe Kent-Walters, appearing in character as Frankie Monroe, has won the BBC New Comedy Awards 2023 competition.
The final, which took place on Monday 6th November at Glasgow's King's Theatre with Rosie Jones as MC, was broadcast tonight (15th November) on BBC One. It was down to judges Josh Pugh, Zoe Lyons and Darren Harriott to pick the winner.
His oddball character, Frankie Monroe, arrived on stage for the final with his face covered in white nappy rash cream and then proceeded to undertake a series of 'unsettling' interactions with audience members. Talking about his character, he says: "Going to my local working men's club growing up, you meet a lot of Frankie Monroes. Ghoulish old men who love to get one up on you. It's a great energy to bring to the stage and I love that you can simultaneously scare and delight audiences, really fun dynamic."
Discussing what it feels like to win, he says: "Absolutely surreal! It's still not set in properly yet but I'm on cloud nine! Having to keep it a secret for the week before broadcast was funny, felt like Bake Off!"
The show's producers comment: "Joe won the judges over with his utterly surreal character of Frankie Monroe, cos not only did he grab the entire audience's attention from the start, but he left them (and the judges) wanting more. All three judges agreed, they would love to see more of Frankie and his club in Rotherham that's also a portal to Hell!"
Speaking in an interview ahead of the final, Kent-Walters said of getting through to the last stage: "My act is so weird and rouge so I really didn't think that the BBC would give it the time of day. It's been an amazing experience and the standard of comics at every stage of the awards has been incredible."
He also revealed how he started in comedy. "I went to the Fringe as part of a play while I was at uni, when I was up there, I just completely fell in love with all the weird stuff. I saw about 70 shows and came back knowing that was exactly what I wanted to do, be a weird comedian."
And on the topic of what would it mean to him to win the BBC New Comedy Awards, he said: "I think I'd mostly feel proud to be representing the weird northerners of the comedy world. There's some amazing people and stuff that happens up here that doesn't really get that much of a look in. Would feel great to shine a bit of light on that chunk of the comedy pie."
First established in 1995, the BBC New Comedy Awards have showcased some of the biggest names in comedy over the years, including the likes of Peter Kay, Lee Mack, Romesh Ranganathan, Alan Carr, Russell Howard and Sarah Millican.
The final can be watched via BBC iPlayer
The BBC New Comedy Awards will return in 2024. Asked what advice he would give to anyone thinking about applying for next year's awards, Kent-Walters said: "Absolutely just do it! What have you got to lose. If you do get through to the live heats just have loads of fun, they are really class gigs to do!".