Scottish comics win Edinburgh comedy award 2016
Richard Gadd’s show ‘Monkey See Monkey Do’ won the coveted 2016 Edinburgh comedy award, past winners include Frank Skinner, Jeremy Hardy and Al Murray. This time however there was a darker side to the comedy as Gadd’s show was centred around his own personal difficulties getting over a sexual assault he experienced four years ago. This brave and funny show set a theme as this year it was felt by many critics’ comedians were being more explicit in tackling the emotional challenges behind their humour and comedy material. Maybe this might be a reaction to Saville and the others or we are becoming more honest and frank with our comedy audiences. It certainly won’t be for ever one but this different show deserved it plaudits as normally the winner of this award needs to display something different and unique. Indeed, the best newcomer award went to another Scottish comedian Scott Gibson describing his own personal trauma through suffering a brain haemorrhage in his mid-twenties. This show had its more squeamish moments with awkward laughs but was still very popular with critics and audiences alike.
Gadd, takes away a winning cheque for £10,000 and is only the second Scottish comedian to win the prize (which started in 1981) after Arnold Brown in 1987. Scott Gibson on collecting his award, he thanked the hospital that helped save his life. He said “sometimes those of us in Scotland get overwhelmed by the Fringe and tell ourselves we can’t be part of it. So hopefully this year will show that we can come here and tell our stories too and play a big role.” This winning show now moves to London in October to start a run at the Soho Theatre.
Richard Gadd was up against seven other nominees including political comic Nish Kumar, Sarah Kendall (who was also nominated in 2015), Seymour Mace, Trygve Wakenshaw. Other shows which did well and caught the eye Scott Agnew: I’ve Snapped My Banjo String, Let’s Just Talk, Al Porter: At Large, Mark Watson: I’m Not Here and Justin Moorhouse: People and Feelings.
The funniest joke / one liner at the Edinburgh fringe went to Masai Graham.
The gag? “My dad suggested I register for a donor card, he’s a man after my own heart.”. Past winners of this growing in importance award include Tim Vine and Zoe Lyons
In the final category, the Panel prize – which rewards projects held to represent the spirit of the Fringe – the award went to ‘Iraq Out & Loud’ an undertaking that saw comedians and others (including Stewart Lee, the MP Tommy Sheppard and the novelist Ian Rankin) read out the Chilcot Report in its entirety. The performance – organised by comedy promoter Bob Slayer and the comedian Omid Djalili – took 284 hours and 45 minutes of constant reading.
In the last week of the Live Fringe shows (4 weeks), TV executives from around the world join in on their own traditional three-day event, The Edinburgh International Television Festival, described last year by a delegate as ‘Edinburgh is the TV industry’s Glastonbury’. What often marks this important media event out are the seminars and lectures that discuss the challenges that are currently effecting the industry which in turn will always effect professional comedy on are screen. The MacTaggart Lecture was this year delivered by Shane Smith, Founder & CEO of Vice. His message was TV should be ‘innovating more rather than retreating’. Something the music industry didn’t do and paid the price of decline.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.