Harrogate comedian: How I won UK's biggest contest

Harrogate comedian Maisie Adam on stage at the Gilded Balloon last week in the final of So You Think You're Funny? at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Harrogate comedian Maisie Adam on stage at the Gilded Balloon last week in the final of So You Think You're Funny? at the Edinburgh Fringe.

A young Harrogate performer says she owes her "surreal" success in Britain's biggest comedy contest to the influence of her home town.

Twentysomething Maisie Adam, who was crowned winner of So You Think You're Funny? competition at the Edinburgh Fringe last week, said she was amazed to win having only started performing stand-up comedy less than a year ago.

Harrogate comedian Maisie Adam, centre, with previous winner Aisling Bea (who compred the evening) and Heidi Regan (last year's winner) - 3 of only 4 women to have won the competition in its 30 years!

Harrogate comedian Maisie Adam, centre, with previous winner Aisling Bea (who compred the evening) and Heidi Regan (last year's winner) - 3 of only 4 women to have won the competition in its 30 years!

The former St Aidan's School head girl said she had been taken aback by her own success.

She said: "I was sitting in the green room at the end with the other contestants. None of us were moving, we were all frozen to our seats staring straight ahead.

"When I heard my name called it genuinely didn't click with me for a second, until the stage manager patted me on the back.

"I genuinely couldn't believe it. I walked up the steps to the stage and saw Aisling Bea applauding me and handing me an envelope.

"My legs would not stop shaking. It was so, so surreal."

Night of celebration

After her victory was announced, Maisie enjoyed a night of celebration surrounded by famous stand-ups.

The champagne flowed, the cameras clicked and the congratulations poured in.

Maisie, who says her comedy inspirations are Victoria Wood, Lucille Ball, Peter Kay and Micky Flanagan, said: "After the final, a photographer took loads of photos of myself and the runner-ups, as well as with comedians Aisling Bea and David O'Doherty.

"There was a huge after-party where I was introduced to hundreds of different people throughout the night.

"It was amazing and surreal to be introduced by Aisling (who I always love on 8 out of 10 cats) to comics who I've been inspired by and watched for the last few years such as Nish Kumar, Tim Vine, and Suzi Ruffell - and to have them congratulate me.

"They were so supportive and I really appreciated them giving me advice on what to do next."

Previous winners of So You Think You're Funny, such as Peter Kay, Lee Mack, Sarah Millican, Alan Carr, John Bishop and Jimmy Carr, have gone on to become household names.

Proud of Harrogate

Described by reviewers in Edinburgh as having a "natural wit with winning physicality and an appealing, quirky energy who conjures up memorable characters," Maisie said she was proud of her Harrogate roots.

She said: "I love Harrogate, and most of my set is based on real people and true stories that have come from growing up in Harrogate."

"I should probably issue a public apology to my French teacher, though, who does feature in my sets, and let her know I am actually very grateful for those French lessons!

"People often describe Harrogate as a "bubble", which is true, but not always necessarily a bad thing. For me, it's a very specific community full of eccentric characters that maybe you wouldn't find in huge cities or wherever, and I love finding the funny in them all."

In the hours immediately after her victory, Maisie was surrounded by the movers and shakers of the comedy world.

As well as a trip to Montreal next year to perform in the world-famous Just For Laughs festival, part of the prize for winning the contest along with £2,500 in cash, the result should also take Maisie's career to a whole new level.

The stunned Harrogate stand-up said: "I've got offers that I could only dream of having beforehand."

Maisie says she had been very nervous before stepping on stage at the home of Fringe comedy, the Gilded Balloon, to do her crucial routine in the final of the competition.

Nervous on the big night

Maisie said: "I was super nervous beforehand. I was pacing up and down the green room because the adrenaline was too much.

"As soon as I got onstage, I could see just how many people were in the room - about 350 of them.

"When my first joke got a hearty reaction from the crowd, I relaxed and thought "just enjoy these next seven minutes, and they will, too".

"It flew by, and when I came offstage I couldn't believe how quickly it gone."