The funniest amateur comedian in the ACT has been named the runner-up in the RAW Comedy finals of 2018.

Emma Holland (above, right) was narrowly edged out by Bec Melrose from NSW as the winner of the national grand final held at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival on Sunday.  Gavin Sempel from Victoria was the second runner-up.

Now in its 22nd year, RAW Comedy, Australia’s largest national open mic competition, annually unearths the bravest and boldest new comedians from around the country.

RAW has kick-started the careers of some of the nation’s favourite comedians including Tom Ballard, Hannah Gadsby, Ronny Chieng, Josh Thomas, Celia Pacquola, Luke McGregor, Demi Lardner and Luke Heggie.

More than 1000 comedians competed in 63 heats and finals around Australia in 2018 in an attempt to win a trip to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Bec Melrose won over judges Susan Provan (Melbourne International Comedy Festival Director), Stacey Gougoulis (Triple J presenter) John Kearns (UK comedian), Sarah Dodd (Touring Producer, Soho Theatre London) and Amanda Higgs (Creative Producer, Matchbox Films)  with a series of observational gags about footy lads taking on Europe, and a virtual realism sex machine.

RAW Comedy Producer and Associate Director of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gideon James described this year’s finalists as “bright, exciting and on the pulse of what is making Australia laugh”.

“All on stage demonstrated skill, stamina and a truck-load of bravery performing in front of 800 people at the Melbourne Town Hall,” Gideon said. “It is always so exciting to see what comes next, and to say you were there from the beginning.”

The RAW Comedy National Grand Final will be televised on SBS later in 2018.