Edinburgh Comedy Awards
The Edinburgh Comedy Awards, formerly the Perrier Comedy Awards, are presented to the best shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Established in 1981, they are the most prestigious comedy prize in the United Kingdom. The awards have been directed and produced by Nica Burns since 1984. The most recent awards were given to Bridget Christie, John Kearns and Adrienne Truscott.
The award was created by Perrier in 1981 as a way of supporting young talent. The inaugural award was presented to the Cambridge Footlights, a cast that included Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Tony Slattery. Many award winners and nominees have gone on to forge successful careers in comedy and the media industry including Garth Marenghi, Lee Evans, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace creators Richard Ayoade and Matt Holness, double act Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller, QI panellist Alan Davies, Mock the Week panellist Chris Addison and many others.
The "Best Newcomer Award" category was introduced in 1992. In 2006, the awards became known as "if.comeddie" Awards and the inaugural "Panel Prize" was given out. Four years later, the name was again changed to Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards, for sponsorship reasons.
From their inception in 1981 until 2005 the awards were sponsored by mineral water brand Perrier, during which time they were known as the Perrier Comedy Awards. Sponsorship then passed to the Scottish-based bank Intelligent Finance and for 2006, the first year of their involvement, the awards were known as the if.comeddies—changing to the if.comedy awards for 2007 and 2008.
In March 2009 Intelligent Finance announced it would not be renewing its sponsorship deal. The 2009 awards were known as the Edinburgh Comedy Award, sponsored by AbsoluteRadio.co.uk, the 2010 awards were sponsored by Fosters Lager.
Winner of the Best Comedy Show award receives a cash prize of £10,000 and an invitation to perform at the Montreal, Toronto and Chicago Just for Laughs Comedy Festivals. The Best Newcomer receives a cash prize of £5,000. The Panel Prize winner receives a cash prize of £5,000.
In 1995 Perrier was bought by Nestlé, the subject of a long-running boycott based on alleged violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, leading to calls to boycott or to eliminate the awards taken up by some Fringe venues and performers, including former winners Emma Thompson, Steve Coogan, Stewart Lee and Rob Newman, led a campaign of protest against the award, beginning in 2001, called Baby Milk Action.
The Nestlé boycott also led to the alternative Tap Water Awards which help to promote access to safe supplies of drinking water and sanitation in developing countries; these awards were suspended for 2007 due to "having beaten Nestlé".
The 2002 awards were criticised for being the second consecutive year in which no female acts were shortlisted. In 2009 they were criticised for all the nominees being male, white, English and all performing at the same venue, The Pleasance.
A Scottish act has never won the award, and no Scottish acts were nominated between 1993, when Phil Kay Parrot and Donna McPhail were nominated, and 2009, when Kevin Bridges was nominated for Best Newcomer. Phil Nichol, the winner in 2006, was born in Scotland to a Scottish mother but subsequently grew up in Canada.
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- "No ifs...". chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
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- "Baby Milk Action". Retrieved 2008-05-05.
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- "Feature: It's the End of the Perriers, and Nobody's Laughing". Generation Why: Your Say (Oxfam). 2006-09-13. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- "Tap Water Awards: Having beaten Nestlé, we're having a rest". Retrieved 2011-03-25.
- Arika Akbar (2007-11-23). "Saunders Bemoans Absence of Female Standup Comedians". The Independent (independent.co.uk (Arts & Entertainment)). Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- "Comedy Judges 'myopic' for Pleasance picks". The Scotsman. Retrieved 28 August 2009.