Comedian Hannah Weetman has been announced as the winner of the prestigious Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2022.
Hannah performed in front of a sell-out crowd at Birmingham’s The Glee Club on Friday night (7 October 2022), where she was presented with her prize by Brum comedian, actress and writer Jo Enright.
Hailing from Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, Hannah – who has a day job as a call-centre operative – made her stand-up debut at The Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham, in 2019, at the conclusion of a comedy course run by Breaking Talent compère, James Cook.
“It was the day before my 21st birthday and I wasn’t going to do it,” she recalled of the course. “I did it on the sly – I didn’t tell any of my family or friends, and just kept disappearing. My mum would say, ‘Where are you going?’ I’d say ‘Nowhere!’ and disappear.”
Although her first appearance went well, her second – at a Project Mayhem night, at The Church, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter – was tougher.
“It was not great. It was a big shock to the system. Once I’d done two gigs, I didn’t know whether to sack it off or give it a go, but started booking gig, after gig, after gig, and just kept doing it.”
Discussing her win, she said: “It means everything to me. I never do competitions – the best I’ve done in the past is come third in an egg and spoon race! I’m so non-competitive. But with this [competition], you don’t choose, you’re nominated; I thought just being nominated was just the best thing ever.”
With a set that explored life as a 20-something in a relationship, with anecdotes on second-hand bedding and tattoos, the judges – who included Jo Enright, Rhys Foley from NextUp Comedy, BBCWM’s Richard Wilford, and representatives from The Glee Club and the comedy festival – were impressed by Hannah’s eye for detail, connection to the material, and ‘truth’.
The comic faced competition from four other West Midlands-based comics: Richard Dadd, Jules O’Brian, Lovell Smith, and Tal Davies.
Richard appeared in character as The Devil, complete with pointed tail and horns, and pondered the source of evil, while Jules considered what she’d do for £1,000 (or a packet of Quavers), Lovell cringed at the responsibilities of being a godfather, and Tal recounted the strangeness of a Covid-era smear-test.
A spokesperson for the festival said: “The judging is always a supremely difficult task, and our panel were very impressed by the standard of all the acts. But Hannah’s timing, little observations, energy and confidence with the crowd made her shine out. We can’t wait to see how she progresses.”
A collaboration between the award-winning arts festival and The Glee Club, the Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award was set up in 2014 to recognise and support emerging comedic talent from the city and wider West Midlands. Previous winners have included Josh Pugh (Mock The Week, Dave Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee), Celya AB (BBC Comedy Award nominee), and Andrew McBurney (Gary Powndland and Friends). The nominated acts were selected by a panel of comedy professionals based on their performances over the last 12 months.
2022’s comedy festival kicked off on Friday 7 October with appearances from Glenn Moore and Henning Wehn, and continues at various venues across the city until Sunday 16 October 2022. Forthcoming highlights include improv show Austentatious, podcasters A Gay And A Nongay Live and GingerbeardMark (with Iain Lee), Helen Bauer, Simon Munnery, Britain’s Got Talent’s Axel Blake, and an evening of Laurel and Hardy films, while two Free Half-Dayers see 16 free comedy shows over successive Sunday afternoons (at Cherry Reds and The Victoria).
For full listings and more information, see: bhamcomfest.co.uk