Once more, the comedy industry has run its annual knockout contest for the crown of best comic at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It’s always a dynamic affair with an evolving format but the constant factor is Nica Burns, entertainment impresario and Edfest veteran. This year the awards were held at the wonderful Dovecot Studios on Infirmary Street in their main hall – an ideal space for this sort of event.
Once again, Fosters, purveyors of fine lager to the quaffing classes are the sponsors and after the awards panel had radged around Auld Reekie, judging here and checking out there, it settled on three acts of outstanding outstandingness – Best Newcomer, Fringe Panel and Best Act 2014.
With its tongue firmly in its cheek and with the wonderful Bridget Christie, last year’s winner and veteran Frank Skinner doing the honours, the awards "ceremony" proved well worth attending in a comedy sort of way with genuinely funny moments emerging from their professional man-woman banter that the invited industry audience lapped up.
“Best Newcomer” award went to Alex Edelman for his show "Millenial", Praised widely for his timing and intelligent show content, Edelman is tipped for major success and this award certainly backs that up.
The Foster’s Panel Prize which used to be known as Spirit of the Fringe went to "Funz and Gamez". Phil Ellis and a troupe of classic kids show characters have become the talk of the fringe. The show has been variously described as ‘a great-yet-so-wrong-children’s-show’, ‘anarchic and irreverent’, ‘uniting adults and kids in waves of fun and laughter comic’. Insiders say that the success of Funz and Gamez is no accident and the award is well deserved.
But the winner of the Best Comedy Show went to John Kearns. Beating the likes of Alex Horne, Sara Pascoe and other great professionals, Kearns’ win for his show at the Voodoo Rooms was well earned. In his acceptance speech, Kearns touched the hard-headed audience as he laid out the risks he has taken on the path to this success.
And as the comedy circus packs up and leaves town for another year, the award, whoever the sponsor, still anchors the comedy side of the Festival and anoint new heroes for us to go and see another time….