Midlands comedians shortlisted for Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award

By Rebecca Sayce | Birmingham | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

Comedians from across the West Midlands are in the running for the sixth Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award.

Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award 2019

Birmingham comedians Ceyla AB, Jay Droch and Adam Elmi, as well as Coventry's Doug Carter will compete alongside Belfast-born and Birmingham-based comedian Mary Flanigan for the accolade.

The coveted annual prize aims to recognise and support 'breaking talent' from the region, offering the winner a much-valued career boost.

Originally from the outskirts of Paris, Ceyla AB now calls Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter home. Performing since February 2017, she cites Dylan Moran, David Mitchell and Maria Bamford, as well as Les inconnus and Desproges, as comedy influences.

Combining work in customer service with stand-up, she recently made it through to the Funny Women 2019 finals.

Having made his stand-up debut at Stirling's Bar, in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, just 18 months ago, Erdington's Jay Droch has gone on to open for Guz Khan and perform at a BBC Asian Network Comedy Night.

Working in logistics, he's also a member of improv troupe Jumprov, and cites Robin Williams as his number one comedy idol.

From beginning in 2015, Adam Elmi started focusing more heavily on stand-up during 2017, developing a 'dark and self-depreciating' style.

With three part-time jobs, he lives in Edgbaston, Birmingham, and recently opened for Tom Stade on his UK tour.


Born in Coventry, and now living in Bedworth, Doug Carter made his debut at Birmingham's The Roadhouse in the spring of 2017, though it was it was nearly nine months later before he decided to continue pursuing stand-up.

He works in the construction industry, and his comedy combines observational humour with real-life stories.

A TV researcher and member of BBC Northern Ireland's Comedy Writers Room, Mary Flanigan started doing stand-up in her native Belfast, and has continued since moving to Kings Heath, Birmingham, at the beginning of the year.

Name-checking Tina Fey, Josie Long, Ross Noble and Maria Bamford as key inspirations, she says her approach to comedy is 'constantly changing.'


All five short-listed acts were selected by a panel of comedy professionals based on live performances over the last 12 months.

A spokesperson for Birmingham Comedy Festival said: "Our annual award continues to go from strength to strength, with no shortage of potential nominees.

"But after some heated debate, we’ve eventually whittled down a long list to Celya, Adam, Jay, Doug and Mary.

"We wish them all the very best of luck at The Glee Club. It’s a great way to start the festival, and is an exciting opportunity for audiences to see some of the best acts from the region before they break through."

Birmingham Comedy Festival runs across the city from October 4 to 13, with more than 80 performances, including appearances from James Acaster, Josh Widdicombe, Impractical Jokers, Henning Wehn, Reginald D Hunter, Jay Rayner, and much more.

The Birmingham Comedy Festival Breaking Talent Award takes place at The Glee Club on October 4.

The night is compered by James Cook and features a closing set by rising Scottish star Fern Brady.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Rebecca Sayce

By Rebecca Sayce

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me:


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