Now I know in writing this I am opening myself up to a slew of "you're just jealous" comments but seriously with thousands of comedy shows in Edinburgh and basically one main award, it's not something that I spend a lot of time worrying about. Yes I'd love an award, maybe not this one.
The main comedy awards are the If.comeddies. They used to be known as the Perrier(s). There are essentially three awards, a main award, a best newcomer award and an award for "spirit of the fringe".
The "spirit of the fringe" goes to someone who's doing something very new and exciting, not a straightforward comedy show. This year it went to an art exhibition of works by comedians, last year it went to Mark Watson who broke the world record for the longest ever comedy show.
Best newcomer is for someone doing their first show - I don't know the guy who won the best newcomer, so I won't comment, good luck to him.
The guy who won the main award was Brendon Burns. His show "So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now?" was advertised with a poster which featured him "blacked up" with a grass skirt and a bone through his nose, then in a wheelchair, mouth open and arms curled up, then on a cross and in a dress (I don't really see what's offensive about a man wearing a dress, and I'm not that bothered by him on a cross either, anyhow tired of trying to describe it I've just put it up at the top of the post).
I've seen Brendon before and I find his material offensive. Nasty, aggressive and offensive. Here's a typical joke (from a video on YouTube so I assume not one he is bothered about keeping for his set any more) "Why do gay guys have so much more money than lesbians? Because they don't have girlfriends! ...see you thought I was going to be homophobic, but I wasn't, I was being sexist".
This year's show I didn't see, but some friends of mine did and reliably inform me that the first 45 minutes were plain unadulterated offensive stuff, attacking racial groups, disabled people, gay people and women. The last part of the show is a "clever twist" where he announces he's not really racist, homophobic or sexist at all and that it's all a big joke. The show also features semi-naked women dancing on stage.
To me that feels like those terrible "documentaries about the porn industry" shown on late night channels that aren't really supposed to be showing porn but know full well that no-one is watching for educational reasons. It doesn't really matter to me what the silly justification for the show is, the fact remains that the first 45 minutes are a frenzy of hate-mongering. Surely this isn't the cutting edge of modern comedy? One commenter on the Chortle website - who had loved the show said "...you get to see slutty dancers and not feel guilty". Why not just give the award to Jim Davidson - at least he has the guts to admit he hates women, disabled people, gay people, ethnic minorities...
All of which left me wondering how an awards system which should be there to highlight the great and the good, the ground-breaking, the innovative and truly funny could end up promoting this sort of thing. And the answer, thanks to painstaking hours of research over here at Cru-blog is (at least partly) - the judges! One of the judges is the programming director of Nuts TV.
Let me say that again in case you thought you were hallucinating...
ONE OF THE JUDGES (for a comedy award) IS THE PROGRAMMING DIRECTOR OF NUTS TV.
Nuts TV, which launches in a few days is the TV spin-off of Nuts magazine and the channel promises to offer: topless model Lucy Pinder reading a Book at Bedtime, a daily Rude New digest of ‘the least important global stories’ and a hunt for Britain's Fittest Barmaid.
In fact the channel has also recruited two circuit comics to be it's new presenters.
I feel as though MY industry is being co-opted in to the lad mags market. Soon people will be asking why I don't perform naked (sorry - I have already been asked that live on Sky Travel TV) and offered radio work only if I show up to the studio naked (that has happened too actually - no thanks, James Whale).
Well comedy doesn't have to be part of the "lad" scene, there is another way... watch this space for a gig list soon and hopefully a DVD coming out!