Funny Miss London
When Dionne Hughes lost her job as a waitress at TGI Fridays last year, she started going to comedy clubs – and decided to give it a whirl herself. Six months later the 20-year-old from "the mean, poverty-stricken streets of Wimbledon Village" had won the Funny Women 2009 award, given to the country's best new female comedian at the prestigious Comedy Store in Covent Garden.
Dionne is currently in her final year of a media and cultural studies degree at Kingston. She admits that she stumbled across stand-up. "I saw an ad for a talent contest at Roehampton Uni so I thought I'd give it a go. The guys at Kingston were all obsessed with a computer game called Pro Evolution Soccer, so I did a bit of dance at the start of my set and followed it with a comedy routine on that. The ladies could relate to it and the guys liked it because they knew it was true."
Word spread and Dionne found herself in demand for gigs. She'd heard of the Funny Women awards, and entered just to see what happened. "The odds were stacked against me. I'd been on the circuit for six months, while the others had been on it for years." Winning top prize led to being signed by a top agent and work at the BBC, including a children's comedy show, Big Babies, which began transmission in March. "It's been really hard to juggle it all, but I'm determined to finish my degree," she says.