Every year the Melbourne International Comedy Festival mounts a nationwide search for fresh comedy talent via RAW Comedy, with two heats scheduled for Byron Bay.

“Hopeful aspirants from every corner of the continent start scanning their lives for material, hoping that their short time on the planet can filter into a killer 5-minute routine,” an organier, local comic Mandy Nolan, said.

“To date there are over 20 entrants in the Byron Bay heat of RAW comedy, prompting national organisors to schedule a second heat to take in all the talent.

“Byron Bay is one of the more regional areas but is a strong contender when it comes to RAW, with more entrants than some of the States.

“Byron entrants have a history of doing well, with Ellen Briggs (pictured) of Mullumbimby making it to the national final just four years ago.

“Ellen credits this with kick-starting her comedy career and giving her the confidence boost she needed to make that dramatic sidestep from tuck-shop mum to stand-up comedian. Ellen is now very much in demand in comedy rooms all around the country.

“Hannah Gadsby won RAW and found herself coming second at Edinburgh’s So You think You’re Funny.

“Hannah has been touted as one of the most promising up-and-coming comics in the country.

“Adam Hills directed and mentored her for her solo show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival last year and Hannah is now spied on the telly on a manner of programs, with a few ABC hosting jobs coming to fruition this year.

“Hannah did her first spot after a Byron Shire ACE comedy course and still uses a lot of the jokes she used for her very first performance.”

Other local success stories include Sandy Gandhi and Liam Holm, both making it to State finals.

Find out who the new comedy sensations are, and cheer them on to greatness. Heat one is at the Byron Services Club on Monday 25 January 8pm. $10/15. Bookings to 6684 3443 or tix at the club. MC Mandy Nolan. Special guest judges.

The second heat is now scheduled for the same venue on Monday 8 February. Ånyone still wishing to enter RAW can do so through the website: www.comedyfestival.com.au/raw