Review: We Got Tickets Musical Comedy Awards Final, Bloomsbury Theatre

Review: We Got Tickets Musical Comedy Awards Final, Bloomsbury Theatre
You certainly get a lot of bang for your bucks at the Musical Comedy Awards Final. Twelve finalists, plut a set from Best Newcomer The Queens of Cups and a finale featuring spoof Europopsters Fjord. I think it is fair to say there was something for everyone. As long as you like music with your comedy.
First finalist Emily Cairns certainly had musical chops to spare, belting out a couple of jazzy comic numbers. The first was about the problem of living with a resting bitch face (first world problem if ever there was one) while the second number reflected on making best friends with the drunk girl in the bathroom. The lyrical twists were nothing special but the powerhouse voice got the evening, well compered by Nick Horseman, off to a good start.
Alex Camp took a while to hit his stride and for a while seemed more like a stand-up who had brought along a guitar just to be eligible. His opening gambit about a fraught Ryanair flight failed to land, but things got a bit better when he alighted on the subject of looking for love in your late thirties and having your mum as a wingman. When he finally picked up his guitar he was actually an accomplished musician. A closing song about finding dogs more attractive than women might explain why he is still single.
Frank Friendzione was what you could comfortably describe as the curveball of the night, someone claiming to be the sixth member of N'Sync, though by the time they had asked an audience member to draw a beard on their face while they serenaded them I was not convinced. I liked the brash boasting – "I'm so good at sex i even got myself pregnant" – but this felt more like performance art than musical comedy.
Sang Don Park was from South Korea – "Just like you guys not a big fan of northerners". He had no instrument with him and turned out to be a beatboxer. It's a limited skill but he certainly seemed good at it – delivering different volumes and rhythms – even if at times it felt like a neat party trick that had got out of hand. 
Ash Weir made a bit of an impact with her song about "meatsplaining". She's a vegan so needless to say she has a beef with carnivores. A better song was her antidote about Manic Pixie Dream Girls - she came up with Calm, Gnomey Reality Woman. Funny and clever even if the topic felt a little dated.
Tom Towelling described himself as a maths teacher before throwing himself into a very weird version of the national anthem. Imagine Cher's Do You Believe In Life After Love sound-gizmos applied to God Save The King. It was hard to get a handle on this at first but then it became so odd that it became entrancingly funny. Towelling was the most audacious act of the night - leaving the stage to come on again to different intros, from drum and bass to hard rock. And it paid off - he was crowned winner.
Baron Fortitude was, well, how can I put it politely, rather too similar to Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer. I'm not saying there isn't room in showbiz for two quaintly old-fashioned chaps spitting stanzas, but what homeboy Baron scored in wit – I liked his rap dissing Charles Dickens – he lost in originality.
I don't know if she had a lot of friends in or just natural charisma but Anna Hale seemed to go down very well with the crowd from the start of her act. She got one fan up but then proceeded not to let her sing a note in her song - not suprising as the lyric was "a song about me." The mock narcissism play really well and scooped Anna second place in the competition as well as the winner of the audience favourite award.
Jim Midge, alias Luke Nixon, was that rare breed – a musical comedy character act. You definitely don't see many geologists from Wootton Bassett College on the circuit. His act told the story of how he had lost his love Janine to a lecturer and had struggled to win her back by promising to take the bins out. In the end he resorted to hanging out in the car park and making drill music, inevitably giving us a very noisy sample. Probably my favourite lanyward-wearing act on the night (I wasn't judging), he picked up the third prize.
Lila Robirosa got an early whoop of recognition when she explained that she identified as an anxious bisexual – fancying everyone but speaking to noone. She had had problems coming out to her colleagues, she confessed, and yearned to recreate those "crazy times" at university, which she recalled through a rewritten version of The Twelve Days Of Christmas. The song was OK, but asking to the audience to join in didn't really work – not many seemed that keen to sing about losing their virginity to a man from Iceland (the country, I presume, not the shop).
Cornish beanpole Ben Pollard's most notable routine was about the popularity of incest porn. It's not a topic you hear every day but it sounded familiar to me so I had a quick google – with safe search on – and saw that I'd previously seen Pollard do the same song in the So You Think You're Funny? final in Edinburgh 2022. He's an odd, eccentric figure, Jarvis Cocker meets Paul Foot ,and clearly has comic potential. His material just needs to be as strong as his persona.
The competition closed with Amelia Bayler, who made up for a lack of material with lashings of confidence. Her two songs, one about tupperware, one asking "what's the vibe?" depended heavily on the comedy of repetition which you either like or don't like. She was another act with promise if only she can harness her talents. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to reference a past review that said she was "unhinged, oversharing and chaotic" – it clearly still applies.

Pictured left to right Anna Hale, Tom Towelling, Jim Midge. Picture by Edward Moore


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