Jason Byrne Hosts Leicester Comedy Festival’s Annual UK Pun Championships
Punday (er, Monday) 12th February marks the UK’s third ever UK PunDay, an annual event in which pun fans around the country unite to share their best (and worst) puns on social media, using hashtag #UKPunDay.
Last year #UKPunDay trended on Twitter, with thousands of people tweeting throughout the day, attracting over 30 million impressions, with the best jokes making it onto BBC Radio One, BBC Radio Two, Metro, Daily Mirror and The Sun.
UK PunDay is Britain’s first and only national day celebrating puns, and was founded by Leicester Comedy Festival following the cult success of The UK Pun Championships.
Meanwhile live at Leicester Comedy Festival, Jason Byrne hosts the fifth annual UK Pun Championships; a rap-battle style pun-off, in which budding contestants from around the UK compete for the title of UK Pun Champion 2018.
The live show follows the format of a rap battle and takes place in a boxing ring surrounded by the audience who sit in the round. Topics are picked randomly on the night and competitors then take it in turns to pun about that particular topic. Audiences vote for their favourite pun (by way of woops & cheers) and the winner goes through to the next round. After a full evening of pun based comedy, two finalists then fight it out until a winner is crowned.
The contestants are:
Tim Andrews, Leeds
Tim has been gigging for a good few years, performing stand up at venues across the UK, and at festivals including the Edinburgh festival and the (mini) Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. In 2017 he was a Semi-Finalist of The Great Yorkshire Fringe New Comedian of The Year Competition. After spending a decade in a barbershop chorus, he has recently branched out into musical comedy, performing spoofs of popular songs, adapted to cover a range of subjects.
Pun alert: I entered the Blond Geek Championships at the weekend. I won fair and square.
Samantha Baines, London
Samantha Baines is an award winning comedian and Actress, you may have seen her in TV and film roles such as Netflix’s The Crown, Silent Witness, Call the Midwife or Lee Nelson’s Well Funny People. Samantha also presents on BBC Radio London and her science comedy shows have enjoyed completely sold out runs at the last two Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. Samantha is currently on tour with her latest show about the lost women of science, a tour which began at the Soho Theatre last December and hits cities across England until May.
Pun alert: I did comedy at a baking convention recently, instead of shouting out the audience just threw Eccles.
EL Baldiniho, Canterbury
El Baldiniho is the UK’s foremost pun-gician and the alter ego of comedy sketch actor Jason Jared. He started his showbiz career running Burlesque nights in Lancashire and since then he has made a rapid, meteoric 11 year rise to the middle end of the UK comedy scene and has even recently been seen at The Glee Club and The Comedy Store, Manchester.
Pun alert: There’s a sale on at the magic shop. It’s buy wand, get wand free.
Adele Cliff, London
Adele has been performing stand up, specialising in one liners, since 2014. She was voted in Dave’s Funniest Jokes of the Edinburgh Fringe in both 2016 & 2017 and is currently developing her debut hour for 2018.
Pun alert: Why is Henry’s wife covered in tooth marks? Because he’s Tudor.
Julian Lee, Newcastle
Julian Lee is a one-liner comic from Newcastle who came to comedy in his forties. He’s been described as “a Geordie Tim Vine”. Since he started he has reached the heats of the BBC New Comedy Awards 2015, been featured on Radio 4 Extra’s show Ross Noble’s Newcastle and was invited to be part of BBC Newcastle’s Jesting About in both 2015 & 2016. He was a runner up at the UK Pun Championships 2017. His MC skills have also earned him a lot of praise on the North East comedy circuit.
Pun alert: There’s a whole Native American tribe who gave up smoking. They used Nicotine Apaches
Colin Leggo, Cornwall
Born and raised in the wilds of Cornwall, Colin Leggo is a stand-up comedian and Youtuber who overly enjoys the fine arts of puns and word play. Several of his YouTube videos have gone viral, including “Grand Theft Cornwall”, a parody of the well known game and “Cornish Is”, made popular by Scott Mills on Radio 1. Colin is delighted and humbled to be returning to the UK Pun Championships having made it to the final 8 last year. Nominated Best Debut Show (Leicester Comedy Festival 2015). Nominated Best Comedian (What’s On Awards 2015).
Pun alert: Putting kind things into your socks. That’s no mean feet
Iain MacDonald, Glasgow
Iain is an experienced one liner comic from Glasgow who has participated in the last 5 Glasgow Comedy Festivals and is currently preparing for his 3 one-liner shows for this coming March’s festival. He is a regular on the comedy circuit and appeared in Scottish Comedian of the Year for the 2nd straight year.
Pun alert: Our teacher once asked us if anyone knew what the Latin word for ‘year’ was. I said “anno”.
Robert Thomas, London
Rob has been performing comedy since 2010. Three years later, he was a finalist in the Up The Creek “One To Watch” competition and won the Comedy Cafe New Act night twice. He was placed 2nd runner up in the UK Pun Championships in 2015 and the Leicester Square Theatre Old Comedian of the Year competition in 2017. He debuted his solo show “Callback” last year, and was London Evening Standard’s Comedy Critic’s Choice at the 2017 Camden Fringe.
Pun alert: Never leave sulphuric acid in a metal beaker. That’s an oxidant waiting to happen.
Geoff Rowe, Founder and Director of Leicester Comedy Festival, said: “Last year we got puns trending on Twitter, with everybody from wordplay fans to brands and comedians themselves sharing their favourite puns online, while Lovdev Barpaga was crowned UK Pun Champion at Leicester Comedy Festival. The best way to celebrate #UKPunday is of course at the UK Pun Championships, but if you can’t be there, be sure to join in online and share your puns using #UKPunDay.”
Leicester Comedy Festival 2018 runs 7-25 February, featuring 836 events across 69 venues, performed by 613 comedians and performers; an increase of 8.5% on 2017. The festival is the longest running comedy festival in the UK, having taken place every February since 1994, and now regularly attracts over 120,000 people to venues across Leicester and Leicestershire throughout the 19 days.