Contenders line up for Chesterfield’s Crooked Smile comedy award

Anthony J Brown, Spotlight Comedy Club
Anthony J Brown, Spotlight Comedy Club

Jolly jesters are grooming their gags and polishing their patter for the Crooked Smile comedy contest.

Nine brave souls will be stepping into the spotlight at Chesterfield’s Winding Wheel in a bid to claim the crown as the town’s monarch of mirth.

Now in its sixth year, the competition on Thursday, July 31, offers its champion £100 in prize money, a trophy and a contract of paid gigs on the comedy circuit.

Host Anthony J. Brown, the founder of Spotlight Comedy Club which promotes the competition, said: “ It’s a staple of the Spotlight Comedy schedule and is always a fabulous evening.”

Punters will not only see the nine contenders in action but also a headline set from Duncan Oakley, who is as adept at making people laugh as he is at making music.

North Derbyshire is putting forward a third of the contenders for this year’s Crooked Smile award. They are as follows:

Josh Smith, who grew up in Brockwell, Chesterfield, was inspired to throw his hat into the ring after judging the competition. He said: “I kind of got to grips with what it was like and it was nice to judge upcoming comedy talent.

“The contest is important because round Chesterfield there isn’t a massive comedy scene as much as there should be and it gives people in the local area an opportunity to come and have a sneak peek at young new talent…that way they get a good laugh and the comedians build a fan base.

Josh, 19, lives in Creswell and works in sales. He has been doing comedy for nearly two years and was inspired by watching John Bishop at Sheffield Arena. “Something about what he was doing felt right and since that night I started writing and doing the open mic nights etc,” he said.

Jared Shooter is aiming for this year’s Crooked Smile crown, having come so close to claiming it two years ago.

He was voted runner-up in the 2012 contest which was only his second gig - his first one was the previous night in Dronfield. Jared said: “I was over the moon with the result.

“The chance to perform at the Winding Wheel again made me want to come back as it’s where it all began for me. I believe this year’s competition is tougher than ever. Josh Smith and I travel the country together gigging - he’s definitely the one to watch. I’d also say Fran Garrity and Jack Gleadow are going to be up there…it’ll be really close.

Jared, who lives in Bolsover and works at Auto Windscreens, said: “Stand-up’s a bit like playing roulette, it’s a gamble, you win some, you lose some. I’ve had complete silence from crowds and I’ve been booed in the past but I’ve also been asked for a photo and an autograph which is really surreal, it’s crazy!”

Marshall B Anderson won the local category of the Crooked Smile contest in 2011. He said: “I started at the 2009 Crooked Smile competition as a sort of challenge to myself and have been doing open mic spots ever since.

“It’s great to play to such a big, local crowd and it’s always a very friendly contest. The contest brings some great upcoming comedians to Chesterfield and gives them the chance to perform in a lovely venue with a really supportive audience

Marshall, 58, has more than 180 gigs to his credit and reached the national finals of the Silver Stand-Up competition last year. He lives in Newbold and works as a tutor for the Open University.

Tickets for the Crooked Smile competition cost £10.50 (advance), £12.50 on door and £7.50 (student); contact 01246 345222 or