Best in Class is a crowd funded profit sharing show that champions the rich talent of working class comedians.
Best in Class was founded by comedian Sian Davies, who was fed up of class, money and social status being used as a barrier to performing. In 2018 she was invited to audition for a spot on an Edinburgh Fringe show, if successful she was told she would have to pay £1800 to the promoter by the end of the week to secure her place. She set up a crowdfunding page to help with her costs. Within an hour the promoter called her back and dropped her from the audition. Apparently she was not the sort of person they wanted to work with.
Sian decided to turn the situation into something positive. Realising that the barriers facing working class performers in the arts are systemic, she set up Best in Class.
The project has enabled a number of working class comedians to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. The comedians work tirelessly in the run up to the festival to crowdfund the costs involved with taking a show to the fringe. Crucially, none of the acts pay to participate and they all receive payment for the work they do.
Best In Class has been a runaway success at the Edinburgh Fringe. Audiences flock to see the show, queueing early for a seat and selling it out daily. There is a real buzz around this group of comics bringing something different to the table at the world’s biggest arts festival, which is often dominated by middle class voices.
Best In Class alumni have gone on to achieve fantastic successes within their comedy careers. Graduates of the project have had nominations for Best Comedy Show at the Edinburgh Fringe Awards, created shows for BBC Radio 4, signed for agents, gained TV work, created sell out shows and had critically acclaimed work. Best In Class has been represented in the finals of some of the biggest comedy competitions in the UK, including the BBC New Comedy Award, Funny Women Awards, Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year and So You Think You’re Funny?
In 2022 Best In Class were awarded the Panel Prize at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. This opened dialogue within the industry and will hopefully be a catalyst for real change and more opportunities for talented working class performers. We are keen to hear from anyone who is able to support Best in Class with funding, opportunities, upskilling and mentoring.
Thanks to a Fringe Recovery grant and the money awarded from the Edinburgh Comedy Award panel prize, Best in Class were able to support even more working class performers with fringe bursaries in 2022 and 2023. This widened our network and made us more determined to fight for working against the barriers faced by working class performers across the industry.
In 2023 Best in Class we awarded a BBC Comedy Grant to support working class comedians with writing for TV. We put 30 talented performers in a room with some of the top TV industry and ran several workshops focusing on demystifying, upskilling and making contacts with the TV industry.
You can help us to support as many working class performers as possible by becoming a Patreon of Best in Class, sharing our work, and coming to our shows. You can also donate to our current fundraising campaign here.
Sian Davies accepted the panel prize award on behalf of Best in Class with a rousing speech about systemic inequalities within the arts.
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