A Muslim comic bested more than a hundred other gag-merchants to claim a national award for comedy on Friday. Jay Islaam, who has been performing stand-up for less than a year, triumphed over dozens of far more experienced acts to take the trophy at the competition final in Nottinghamshire at the end of July. He received a cash prize as well as the accolade “Breakthrough Act 2014” as awarded by FAF Comedy.
“It still hasn’t quite sunk in,” said Islaam, reacting to the result. “The competition had an incredibly strong line-up, including scores of acts I have admired for a long time. This is my first major award, and it’s come at a time when I was reconsidering whether to carry on pursuing comedy as a career. I’m now certain that stand-up is what I was always meant to be doing, and I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead on the comedy circuit.”
The Breakthrough Act competition was open to comedians from across the UK, and the heats welcomed acts from as far afield as the West Country, Yorkshire, the Home Counties and Scotland. More than 100 performers applied to take part this year. The highest scoring acts from heats that took place in the late spring progressed to last week’s final, where they performed to an audience of more than 50. Six official judges, including several comedy professionals, scored all ten finalists, with their aggregated scores deciding the winner.
Speaking on behalf of FAF Comedy Clubs, Director Stewart Coleman commented: “Our 2014 competition was a closely contested affair that will likely provide the launchpad for some very talented British acts. The final proved to be an incredible night of laughs and entertainment. Jay Islaam was a deserved winner – albeit by a single point!!”
In the last year, Islaam has performed at some of the most prestigious comedy venues, and festivals, across the country including appearances at the world-famous The Comedy Store. Next month he takes his first one-man show to the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Fringe. He’s already amassed a large online following and you can keep up with his work through his Twitter account @jayislaam. A full list of his forthcoming performances can be found online at www.jayislaam.com.