Dan Tiernan on why you should take part in the BBC New Comedy Awards

Dan Tiernan. Credit: Drew Forsyth

It's the final week to enter the BBC New Comedy Awards 2023. As the deadline approaches, we thought it would be a great time to chat to last year's winner, Dan Tiernan, to find out how he approached the competition.

Do you remember entering the New Comedy Awards? It must have been about a year ago this month you put yourself forward...

Yes. I remember this time last year desperately trying to get together a 5 minute video that I didn't hate. My goal was to just get through to the live performance stage, so it's completely bonkers to think that I actually ended up winning the whole thing.

Since then, everything has changed for you, hasn't it. What a year!

Yeh, it has been an unreal year. Doing stand-up comedy is my favourite thing in the world and now I get to do it pretty much every single night of the year and it's my actual full time job. I'm honestly so so grateful.

What have been your career highlights since winning?

I've got to do some wild things; things I never ever thought I'd get to do. I supported my hero Micky Flanagan on tour, I did a photo shoot with HELLO! Magazine as one of their 2023 rising stars, I was on QI and I've actually just recorded an episode of 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, which is one of my favourites.

BBC New Comedy Awards. Dan Tiernan

How did you find the process of performing in the heats, and then appearing at the big-stage final?

I mean, the heats were my first time performing on TV, so it was obviously absolutely terrifying, but everyone I did it with were all really lovely and supportive and it felt like we all were looking out for each other despite us technically being each other's competition.

The final was the biggest gig I'd ever done, big both in size and significance. Luckily, the team involved in making the show are fantastic, particularly Mark Olver who is both a consultant producer on the show and the TV warm-up. He was with us the whole time throughout the process and did everything he could to make sure we all had a blast despite the nerves.

What would you say to anyone who is sitting on the fence about whether they should put themselves forward for this competition?

Just get a video of you doing five minutes of stand-up and send it in, you literally have nothing to lose.

Obviously try and get the best video possible. If you have time, film a few different sets and pick your favourite but at the same time try not to over think it too much, they just want to get a sense of your performing and joke writing style.

BBC New Comedy Awards. Dan Tiernan

Do you have any good tips for someone who is just starting to try stand-up?

Gig loads, any gig you can get your hands on when you're new you should take it. Don't rush your career, stand-up comedy is a marathon not a sprint. If you're expecting to be getting paid work in your first year, you're only setting yourself up for fail. Focus on getting a really good five minutes, that can take years, too many acts try and run before they can walk.

Make friends with other comics; stand-up can be very lonely and it's very difficult for other people to understand what it's like if they don't do it. A support network of other comics that look out for each other can be a game changer.

Finally, listen to a voice recording of every set you do, even the bad gigs. It is a horrible task listening to your own voice but you get used to it and it will not only help you improve your jokes but will also give you a better sense of who you are as a performer.

What are your career goals from this point forward?

I'd love to keep doing TV and building up my fan base. I'm taking my debut hour Going Under to the Fringe this year and I'm really hoping that afterwards I will be able to tour it around the country.

Published: Thursday 6th July 2023
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