Edinburgh Comedy Awards
|Edinburgh Comedy Awards|
Best Newcomer Nominees 2015
|Location||Edinburgh Festival Fringe|
|Former name(s)||Perrier Award, if.comeddies, if.comedy Awards|
|Reward(s)||£10,000 (Main prize), £5,000 (Other prizes)|
|Currently held by||Sam Simmons, Sofie Hagen, Karen Koren of Gilded Balloon|
|Best Comedy Show||Sam Simmons|
|Best Newcomer||Sofie Hagen|
|Panel Prize||Karen Koren of Gilded Balloon|
The Edinburgh Comedy Awards or Eddies (formerly the Perrier Comedy Awards, and also briefly known by other names for sponsorship reasons) are presented to the comedy shows deemed to have been the best 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 main prize, which was for many years the only prize, and is now known as the Best Comedy Show, is awarded "for the funniest, most outstanding, up-and-coming comic / comedy show / act" at the Fringe. The winner 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 Award category was introduced in 1992, and is given to the best "performer or act who is performing their first full-length show (50 minutes or more)". The prize is £5,000. Newcomers are eligible for the Best Comedy Show Award, but no act is allowed to appear on both shortlists in the same year.
A further prize, the Panel Prize, was inaugurated in 2006. All shows are eligible, and the award may not be awarded at all, if the panel so choose. This has never happened since the prize was founded, although in 2008 it was awarded to "every comedian on the Fringe". Like Best Newcomer, the Panel Prize winner receives a cash prize of £5,000.
The original 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 Lee Evans, Milton Jones, 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. Australian Comedian Brendon Burns has said that he is "arguably the least successful winner" of the award.
A Best Newcomer Award was added in 1992, and in 2006, the inaugural Panel Prize was given out.
In 2014, John Kearns became the first comedian to win Best Newcomer and Best Comedy Show in consecutive years.
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. From 2010, the awards have been sponsored by Foster's Lager.
In order to avoid confusion due to the frequency of name changes, past winners are now often said to have won "the Eddie", a popular colloquial term for the award, rather than referring to a specific year's sponsor.
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 ran from 2001 to 2006, and aimed 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". Multiple winners were chosen each year, including established comedians like Stewart Lee and Robert Newman, and, in the award's final year, promoter Peter Buckley Hill for his Free Fringe initiative.
A Scottish act has never won the award, and no Scottish acts were nominated between 1993, when Phil Kay 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. In 2015, Glaswegian comedian, Larry Dean, was nominated for Best Newcomer for his show Out Now!
The 2002 awards were criticised because no female acts were shortlisted, the second consecutive year in which that was the case. In 2009, they were again criticised for all the nominees being male, as well as all being white, English and all performing at the same venue, The Pleasance.
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