Competition Essential Info


Applications for the 2022 So You Think You’re Funny? Competition are now open! Please make sure you’ve read the essential information below and complete our application form here. If you have any questions please contact us

Why enter?

So You Think You’re Funny? is the longest running and most established competition of its kind. Hosting showcases as far and wide as possible, winning it can change everything. Gilded Balloon are committed to nurturing young comic talent and will endeavour to support all winners and finalists with mentoring and touring possibilities in the year following the Grand Final.

The winner of the competition will receive…

  • A cash prize
  • A fully paid for solo show (or mixed bill) run as part of the Gilded Balloon’s Fringe programme
  • A paid performance slot in the Comedy Arena and weekend pass at Latitude Festival in the year following the competition 
  • A paid Friday spot at Glee Birmingham plus accommodation
  • A full weekend of paid spots at the Boat Show in London
  • A fully paid for recording and edit of your debut solo show available on the Next Up platform.
  • Complimentary headshot photoshoot by professional photographer to the stars, Steve Ullathorne
  • Complimentary filmed copy and professional photographs of their spot from the Final to use in their show-reel
  • Mentorship and support from Karen and Katy Koren and the So You Think You’re Funny? team

There are also prizes for the runners-up including…

  • A cash prize for the first and second runner up 
  • The opportunity to take part in a fully paid for mixed bill show as part of Gilded Balloon’s Fringe programme.
  • Mentorship and support from Karen and Katy Koren and the So You Think You’re Funny?

Judging Process:

Regional Heats:

Regional Heats are held from May until June with selected applicants performing up to 7 minutes of original material.  In 2022 all Regional Heats will take place virtually on Zoom. 

Edinburgh Heats:

Contestants will be selected from the online Regional Heats and invited to the heats held at the Gilded Balloon during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. A finalist is chosen at the end of each heat by a panel of judges. The judges also chose wild card finalists that will join the heat winners in the Final.

Grand Final:

The So You Think You’re Funny? Grand Final will be held in August in the Gilded Balloon. Winners from each heat and wild card finalists will perform up to 7 minutes of original material. In 2021, the Grand Final was hosted by Mark Watson – who was himself a finalist in 2002 – in front of a sold out live audience in The Wine Bar at Gilded Balloon’s iconic Teviot building. The competition was presided over by a panel of judges from across the Comedy industry – Artistic Directors of the Gilded Balloon, Karen and Katy Koren, comedian Maisie Adam, Beyond The Joke’s Bruce Dessau and Paul Willers from Just For Laughs.


  • The performer must not have performed more than 15 stand-up spots (including open spots and virtual performances to live audiences) or gigged before 1 June 2021.
  • The performer must be unsigned from any comedy agent or management company.
  • The performer must not have performed or plan to perform a solo show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If you have, you are probably too experienced.
  • The performer must not have taken part in any previous year’s showcases of So You Think You’re Funny?
  • The performer’s material must be completely original.
  • The performer must have 7 minutes of their own original material. You should use the same material throughout the competition, judges do not want you to change it unless it is minor tweaks.
  • The organisers reserve the right to select all entrants. Decisions taken by the organisers and judges are final.

Gilded Balloon are adapting the competition as required due to the regional heats being hosted online in 2022. This may mean that the rules are different in this year due to the unprecedented circumstances. For clarification on this year’s competition, please contact us.

Judges Tips / Tricks:

  • Make the audience laugh within the first 30 seconds of being on stage. Cut the waffle and get to the good stuff straight away.
  • The quality of your material is key. Write, edit and rehearse you material in advance. Do not risk winging it on the night, that is hardly ever funny.
  • Don’t do the compere’s job for them and ‘work the room’, perform your own material rather than chatting to the audience for 7 minutes.
  • Avoid lazy stereotypes, fat jokes, toilet jokes, ginger jokes, racism, sexism or any other isms… the judges have heard them all and probably won’t find it funny. Be clever, be different and you’ll stand out.
  • If you are going to do musical comedy, make sure your songs are funny. If it’s not funny without music, it won’t be funny with it.
  • This competition isn’t for sketch comedy, but for stand-up comedy. If you are a double act, or even a triple act, make sure you are twice or three times as funny together – don’t divide the wit between you.
  • Practice makes perfect. Practice before your set in front of the judges, get comfortable holding a mic, be comfortable in what you are wearing and how to stand on stage.
  • Don’t make SYTYF? your first gig. You can only do it once, so don’t squander the opportunity. At least find out if you get stage fright by doing one gig beforehand.
  • Enjoy it! What’s the worst that could happen?

Previous Winners/Finalists Testimonials:

“From the bottom of my heart, nothing has been as exciting as that moment when they said, “The winner is Lee Mack.” In terms of excitement, that was the pinnacle of my career.” Lee Mack 

“The final was the biggest gig I had ever done. Peter Kay hosted it and Russell Howard, Jimmy Carr, Andy Zaltzman and Josie Long were in the final. Winning it definitely gave me the confidence to keep writing the sort of stupid crappy jokes and songs I still do today” David O’Doherty

“For me it was the single most important thing I did in my career, it helped me leap from a lot of the crap in the business and gave me the extra push I needed but it also changed my life forever, in that, whenever I get a TV deal, radio deal, or big live gig these days, Karen Koren emails me and says ‘You got that because of me, and my competition, and don’t you forget it!’. We won’t Karen and that is why we love you…” Jason Byrne

“I was only 21 when I got into the final of So You Think You’re Funny?, and it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. Even though I didn’t win, I got to meet Eddie Izzard and make full use of the free bar at the after party so I felt like a winner anyway.” Lucy Porter

So You Think You’re Funny? was the first competition I entered. I’d been doing stand up for about six months.  Getting to the final was probably the most exciting moment of my life.  It was the moment when I thought, “I’m not as bad at this as I thought.  Bill Bailey was compering.  Six years later we’re on the same bill again and I can’t wait” Rhod Gilbert

“Winning So You Think You’re Funny? was a great experience. Being part of a final like that gave me a lot of confidence. Looking back it seems ridiculous that I won that year, but hey ho” Miles Jupp

Got a question?

We’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us. Although we hope that all applicants are honest in their applications, we can’t do as much research on applicants backgrounds as we’d like. 

There is a maximum of 14 slots per heat, once they are full they are full. Apply early in order to secure your place.