Essential Info

Applications for the 2024 So You Think You’re Funny? Competition opened in December 2023. Regional showcases are taking place between March and June 2024. If you have any questions about the competition, please contact us!

Why Enter?

Gilded Balloon created the competition in 1988 and now So You Think You’re Funny?  is the longest running and most established competition of its kind, winning it can change everything. We are committed to nurturing new comic talent.  We aim to mentor all winners and finalists and support them in the year following the Grand Final. The competition will introduce you to a network and community of comedians, of comparable experience to you your own, to support your comedy journey.

Applications for the 2024 So You Think You're Funny? Competition are now open! Make sure you've read the essential information below before submitting an application here.

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 place on Soho Theatre's coveted Comedy Plus Lab 10-week course supporting emerging comedian's to develop skills featuring industry advice and masterclasses in the year following the final.

  • Up to 4 mentorship meetings (virtual or in person) with Channel 4's Comedy Commissioning team in the year following the final.

  • A paid performance slot in the Comedy Arena and weekend pass at Latitude Festival in the year following the competition thanks to Festival Republic.

  • Other paid performance slots at the UK's best comedy clubs including the Glee Club, the Boat Show and more. 

  • 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, Artistic Directors at Gilded Balloon and Julia Chamberlain, the So You Think You’re Funny? producer for over 20 years.

There are also prizes for the runners-up including:

  • A cash prize for the first and second runner up.

  • Potential to be invited 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 Julia Chamberlain, the So You Think You’re Funny? producer.

Judging Process

Regional Showcases

Regional Showcases are held from March until June with selected applicants performing up to 7 minutes of original material. In 2024 all regional showcases will take place live in select UK cities.

Edinburgh Heats

Contestants will be selected from the regional showcases 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 may also choose wild card finalists who will join the heat winners in the Grand Final. 

Grand Final

The So You Think You’re Funny? Grand Final will be held in August at the Gilded Balloon. Winners from each heat and wild card finalists will perform up to 7 minutes of their original material. In 2023, the Grand Final was hosted by Maisie Adam– in front of a sold-out live audience in the Debating Hall 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 Greg McHugh, Beyond the Joke’s Bruce Dessau, Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Susan Provan, Marianne Ways from Just For Laughs, Montreal.


  • The performer must not have performed more than 15 stand-up spots (including open spots) before 1 June 2023. Any number of performances after June 2023 are fine.

  • The performer must be unsigned from any comedy agent or management company at the time of applying to take part in the competition.

  • The performer must not have performed in previous years or plan to perform a solo show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2024. 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 must have 7 minutes of their own completely 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 fully fund the competition independently currently but are looking for commercial partners to support the competition. Whilst the Gilded Balloon continue to fund the competition, they are limited to the number of in person showcases they can put on. If applicants are unable to make it to one of the live showcases, online showcases may be added to ensure the judges see all applicants.

If you have any questions about the competition or eligibility please contact the team on 

With the help of a partner or sponsor, we would be able to add more live heats across the country and offer more support to applicants, finalists, and winners in the future. If you are interested in supporting the 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

Have a question?

We’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or suggestions.

Please do not apply if you do not meet the eligibility criteria and are too experienced.  If you take part in the first round and are subsequently found to be too experienced you will not be permitted to take part in a semi-final.

There is a maximum of 14 slots per heat.  Most will take place on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, or some Thursdays. Apply early to secure a place.

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