The six comedians selected by judges to form the final of the BCG Pro Talent Awards for Performance have been revealed. They are as follows, with their biographies:
American comedian Brandon Burke: a good ol' country boy with a dash of red-neck and a small helping of queer. He's not fabulous but he's a hell of a good time.
Suchandrika Chakrabarti is a freelance journalist, podcaster and comedy writer who has always dreamed of trying stand-up comedy, but only managed to make that happen in January this year, which tells you something about her comic timing. She's a semi-finalist in the Funny Women Stage Awards 2020, and has been named by them as One to Watch.
Liz Guterbock is a native Californian and London-based comedian. In her wry, story driven stand-up, Liz will give you a good picture of what happens when a Type-A personality moves to Britain, and things don't exactly go to plan.
East London-based, 20 something idiot telling people stories, some jokes if ya lucky. I'm just try to convince my friends to stop calling me Boring Ben.
Stuart recently followed in the footsteps of Dara O Briain, Paul Merton and Craig Ferguson by being handpicked to perform in the Best of the Edinburgh Fest showcase at the Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne Comedy Festivals. He was also endorsed by Hollywood actor Will Ferrell after performing in Los Angeles!
Luke Rollason is a big-eyed, big-haired thing in a turtleneck making physical comedy for popular people. His live shows have performed sell-out runs at the Soho Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe. When it comes to comedy competitions, he has an uncontested losing streak.
The Performance prize - open exclusively to subscribers of BCG Pro, British Comedy Guide's platform for comedy creatives and professionals working in the industry - is for those who perform on the stage. The initial entry round involved members uploading a video of themselves performing.
The judging panel comprised of the BCG Pro team; journalist and Beyond The Joke editor Bruce Dessau; agents Kitty Laing and Isaac Storm; and booker and manager of venues including The Museum of Comedy and Leicester Square Theatre, David Hardcastle.
The award is split in two self-identified categories: one ('Starter') for those beginning their comedy careers and one ('Pro') for those who are more established. The above nominees are all Pro members and will now battle it for the crown in a live final with a public audience, to take place in 2021 when live venues are allowed to operate more normally.
Additionally, the winner of the Starter category was picked outright by the judges and will perform at the live final as part of their prize. From dozens of entries, judges picked musical comedian Bennet Kavanagh.
He says: "I am delighted and a bit shocked to have won this. In all honesty I had forgotten I entered as I submitted my video a while ago and didn't think I had much of a chance, so it came as a really nice surprise. After a difficult year this is exactly the good news I needed, and I'm looking forward to seeing the opportunities this will lead to. Thanks BCG!"
Brandon Burke says: "I'm very pleased to be a finalist in the BCG Pro Performance Award and looking forward to touching as many people as I can."
Suchandrika Chakrabarti comments: "What an amazing way to end this very weird year, and my first one in comedy! I'm really looking forward to getting back on a stage again in front of a live audience, so thank you BCG for giving me that opportunity with the final!"
Liz Guterbock said: "This is such a lovely piece of news to get! I'm so excited to be chosen, and so excited at the prospect of performing again! Dreamy! Have I used too many exclamation marks? Probably!"
Benjamin Lovell replied: "I'm surprised, very chuffed and glad someone found me funny. Cheers!"
Glasgow-based Stuart Mitchell says: "It's been a great year for Scotland qualifying for the Euros and now this. Honestly 2020... what a year! I am chuffed to have made the final out of all the quality entries." He jokingly added: "I look forward to visiting London for the awards sometime in 2026."
Luke Rollason says: "In a year where live comedy feels under attack, it's a thrill to be chosen as one of the six survivors who will compete to crush each other into the dust, once it is safe and legal to do so."
The BCG Pro Talent Awards will return in 2021, with the annual Performance submission window running from August to October inclusive. Open to any live stage performers - stand-up, sketch or improv - entrants are encouraged to submit recordings of their act, filmed in any setting in the previous year.
Understandably, 2020 entries largely consisted of home-filmed sets due to the coronavirus pandemic, Edinburgh Fringe cancellation and live circuit shut down.