Birmingham Comedy Festival and The Glee Club have announced Kai Samra as the recipient of the festival’s Breaking Talent Award 2017.
The young comic picked up his prize at a packed Glee Club on Friday night (6 October 2017), where he was presented with his award by BBCWM’s Richard Wilford.
The Handsworth-born comedian, whose family later moved to Warwick, has been performing stand-up for just 18 months, but impressed the judging panel with is confident and relaxed delivery, and exploration of such topics as the difficulties of tackling gun and knife crime, class and race, family, and the challenges of finding suitable attire for fancy dress parties.
“It means a lot to me,” said Kai of his award. The only Birmingham-born comic on the bill, he added: “The other competitors where really amazing and it was nice to be nominated and represent Birmingham.”
As former member of Warwickshire’s indie hopefully Paris Pickpockets, Kai looked set to make his name in music. But despite signing to The Arctic Monkeys’ management company and supporting The Libertines, he’s since turned his attention to writing and performing comedy.
Describing his style of stand-up, he said: “It’s observational, political. I try to do stuff that other people don’t, to take a fresh perspective on subjects like race, politics.”
Recently moving to Kilburn, London, Kai is developing several writing and interview-based projects, including his own sitcom, The 27 Club - a reference to a long list of stars who all died tragically at the age of 27, including Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain.
“I wrote it before I started stand-up,” explained Kai, who is also 27 years-old. “We’re going to do a pilot ourselves and try and sell it to a production company.”
Discussing his future plans, he added: “I love writing things, I love filming things … my aim is to work as hard as possible.”
Kai faced stiff competition from four other West Midland acts: Staffordshire’s Eric Rushton, who parodied PM Teresa May’s Conservative Party Conference disaster with a cough and a P45; the dark and unexpected Rob Kemp from Wednesbury; Alex Black, who treated audiences to a music skit on social media based around the greatest hits of The Police; and Gemma Layton, aka Black Country cabaret singer/ stalker Beverley Vegas.
A spokesperson for the festival said: “All the acts were incredibly strong and all very different, which really demonstrates the richness and strength of the West Midlands comedy scene, but in the end the judges decided that Kai was the stand-out performer. We wish him all the best and are confident we’ll be seeing more from Kai in the very near future.”
A collaboration between the award-winning festival and The Glee Club, and sponsored by Edinburgh Gin, the Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award aims to recognise and support emerging comedic talent from the city and wider West Midlands.
2017’s festival kicked off on Friday 6 October and continues at various venues across the city until Sunday 15 October. Highlights include appearances from Greg Davies, Henning Wehn, Comedy Central’s Impractical Jokers, Matt Lucas, The Fast Show’s Simon Day, and two Free Half-Dayers featuring 16 free comedy shows spread over successive Sunday afternoons at two city centre venues (Cherry Reds, The Victoria, 8 and 15 October).