Edinburgh Comedy Awards

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Edinburgh Comedy Awards
Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award - 'Best Newcomer' Nominees 2015.jpg
Best Newcomer Nominees 2015
Sponsored by Foster's
Date 1981
Location Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Country Scotland
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
Highlights
Best Comedy Show Sam Simmons
Best Newcomer Sofie Hagen
Panel Prize Karen Koren of Gilded Balloon
Official website comedyawards.co.uk

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.[1][2] The awards have been directed and produced by Nica Burns since 1984.[3]

The most recent awards were given to Richard Gadd, Sam Simmons and Sofie Hagen

Format[edit]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4] 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.[5]

History[edit]

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.[6] 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.[citation needed]

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.

Sponsorship[edit]

From their inception in 1981 until 2005 the awards were sponsored by mineral water brand Perrier,[7] during which time they were known as the Perrier Comedy Awards. Sponsorship then passed to the Scottish-based bank Intelligent Finance[8] 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.[9][10][11]

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.[12][13][14]

Controversy[edit]

Nestlé[edit]

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.[15][16][17][18]

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.[19]

Inclusivity[edit]

The 2002 awards were criticised because no female acts were shortlisted, the second consecutive year in which that was the case.[20] 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.[21]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (2005-08-24). "Edinburgh reports: time to stand up for the Perrier". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  2. ^ Lee, Veronica (2009-06-03). "Can Nica Burns save the comedy awards formerly known as Perrier?". Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  3. ^ Nica Burns. "The Birth of the Comedy Awards: Nica Burns Looks Back". Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  4. ^ a b c [1]
  5. ^ "Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2015: The nominees in full". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-08-26. 
  6. ^ "Past winners of the Perrier Comedy Award". edfringe.com. 2009-05-01. Archived from the original on 14 April 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  7. ^ "Perrier Ends Edinburgh Comedy Tie". BBC News. bbc.co.uk. 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  8. ^ "Intelligent Sponsor for the Oscars of Comedy" (PDF). Press release. if.com. 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  9. ^ Andy McSmith (2009-03-21). "Edinburgh comedy prize loses its sponsor". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  10. ^ "No ifs...". chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  11. ^ "Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards" Retrieved 13 August 2010
  12. ^ http://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/what-s-on/theatre/comic-has-all-answers-1-1470539
  13. ^ http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/556c767a-962c-11de-84d1-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2sLVD4Kg6
  14. ^ http://www.hideawaylive.co.uk/live-standup-comedy-2611
  15. ^ "Boycott Perrier: Newman Calls for Corporate Protest". Chortle: The UK Comedy Guide. 2001-07-24. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  16. ^ Imogen Tilden (2001-08-22). "Perrier Judges Name the Cream of Edinburgh's Comedy". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  17. ^ "Nestlé Pulls Plug on Perrier Award". Press Release. babymilkaction.org. 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  18. ^ "Baby Milk Action". Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  19. ^ "Tap Water Awards: Having beaten Nestlé, we're having a rest". Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  20. ^ Arika Akbar (2007-11-23). "Saunders Bemoans Absence of Female Standup Comedians". The Independent. independent.co.uk (Arts & Entertainment). Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  21. ^ "Comedy Judges 'myopic' for Pleasance picks". The Scotsman. Retrieved 28 August 2009. 

External links[edit]