Winning the BBC New Comedy Award was brilliant. Quite simply it was the best thing that has happened to me in my career so far. The immediate benefit of winning was that I got very drunk on free wine (3 white wines) after the final. This lead to me stumbling into the Burger King by Tottenham Court Road holding my trophy and demanding free chips. Undoubtedly a low point of what was otherwise a great evening. The award didn't catapult me to instant stardom as my mum presumed it would, but it has created a huge amount of opportunities for me. Opportunities that I am trying desperately to take advantage of.
For example I have just finished supporting Russell Kane on his national tour "Smallness". This was a fantastic learning curve. Performing in front of big theatres for 25 minutes every night helped me develop as a comic, I feel I've become far more confident on stage and much more willing to throw new bits in. But getting to watch one of the best comedians in the country up close and personal every night has been invaluable. I stayed and watched every single show and would often quiz him after about the technical aspects of stand-up, each time picking up that little extra nugget of gold. But probably also annoying him immensely.
As part of my prize for winning the award I am currently developing a pilot for BBC Radio Comedy. My producer Carl Cooper has been brilliant. I have spent the last 5 months working out exactly what I want my pilot to be and have now settled on making a sitcom, kind of. I have weekly meetings with Carl where I present my latest efforts. He will often set me homework such as read this book, watch this sitcom or be funnier. Simply by going through this process I feel like I am learning a huge amount about constructing a scripted sitcom. I’m excited to record my pilot in the next few months.
I should also say that the BBC Comedy department have been extremely supportive in general. The NCA producer Tilusha and her team were wonderful to work with throughout the award stages, and since winning it the entire department have been great. A few weeks ago I was invited to be the additional material writer on the Newsquiz the Radio 4 topical panel show. I basically spent two days locked in a room with five other writers and came up with jokes. It was great fun. I will soon be doing a similar thing for The Now Show. I also often go to recordings for radio 4 shows, which a few weeks ago lead to the frankly odd situation where I was sat in a pub watching Chris Addison swap anecdotes with my Dad.
Probably the most tangible difference to my career since winning the award has been on the live circuit. I now regularly get paid to do the best job in the world and get to play some of the nicest rooms in the country. In short, I no longer feel like a massive fraud when I tell people I am a stand-up comedian. This Edinburgh I am very excited to be hosting The Comedy Zone every night in the Pleasance Courtyard. Some of my favourite comedians have MC’d The Zone including Russell Howard, John Oliver and Dave Gorman, so I can't wait to do it myself. I then plan to take my debut solo show to Edinburgh in 2015.
There's loads of other stuff I've been lucky enough to do since winning, including appearing on Radio 4 Extra’s Comedy Club with Arthur Smith, filming a sketch with Patrick Kielty and performing on a moving canal boat in front of all the BBC’s Comedy executives, but I’ve run out of words.
I found this blog quite difficult to write because it just feels like I’m banging on about how well things are going. So, I'm sorry for that. It's not all been great, I still spend hours writing jokes which turn out to be guff, drive to Hereford for very little money and don't have a girlfriend. But put simply the award did give me an invaluable leg up in this industry for which I will always be massively grateful. So if you're thinking about entering it, stop thinking and just do it. It’s great. Good luck. But don't expect free chips.
Follow Steve on Twitter: @SteveBugeja