In its post-Perrier life, the Fringe’s main comedy prize has gone through various guises but one thing remains constant: it gives a gong to some pretty superb comedians.
We sent a bunch of award-related questions to all the winners from 2007 onwards who are returning this year. Here are their responses…
Before winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award, what was the best thing you had ever won?
A big orange and white elephant in a school raffle when I was four. I was so excited I ran up to get it, fell over and cut my knee open pretty badly. I still have the scar today. And the elephant, which is on my daughter’s bed. It’s nice to pass things down.
She’s not having my Edinburgh Comedy Award, though. I want that chucked onto my coffin as I’m lowered into the ground. It’s such a massive hunk of plastic it’ll make a really loud, awful thud. It’d be great if someone could also say ‘good riddance’ at the same time.
Of the other nominees on your shortlist, can you name one act you’d have been perfectly happy to see winning instead of you?
No. I can’t believe you’ve asked me that. What sort of a prick would single out one of their fellow nominees and then say why that person was better than all the others? We all gig together, you know. I now realise that other previous winners taking part may have answered this question properly, and now it looks like I’m calling them a prick. Never mind.
What was the first thought that came into your head when you heard your name being read out as the winner?
Most of us were stood at the back of the room together, looking down at the floor, so while I was pretty excited to hear my name, I felt bad for the others, too. Not in a patronising way; I just know what it feels like to be a MASSIVE SMELLY LOSER!!! Ha! Only joking guys. I was also wondering if my backpack would be OK on the floor by the boys, or whether I should bring it up with me in case one of them pissed on it. I was also dreading having my photo taken, which I find embarrassing.
Did you have a winner’s speech prepared and did you stick to it?
Yes I did, because I didn’t want to forget to thank someone important and also I didn’t want to drone on for ages about myself.
What do you remember most about the first show you did after getting the award?
I died on my arse at the Foster’s Award Show thing at the Pleasance the following night. It was awful. Most people in the audience (as well as all the other nominees backstage) must have been thinking, ‘how the hell did this unfunny twat win?’ There was a prop backstage of a huge golden statue that was being used for another show and some of us (including me, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it), thought it would be funny if I dragged it out with me (as the winner) and made a massive deal out of it, which I did, but it got absolutely nothing at all and my set didn’t really recover from that weird intro. I think it was the shouting Nick Helm who first suggested it. If he reads this, and I’ve remembered it wrong, I expect he will shout at me. It was either him, Seann Walsh, James Acaster or Mike Wozniak.
How do you think it will feel to be on stage handing over the award this year?
I’ll be pretty excited for the new winner. Phil Burgers (Doctor Brown, the previous year’s winner) was so nice to me last year when I got up on stage. He was very reassuring and kind, so I must remember to be like that for the new winner. Steve Coogan (who presented it) was very nice to me too. It’s a bit daunting up there with all the cameras and stuff. It would be funny to look really disappointed with the new winner, though, wouldn’t it? Or thrust the award at them really aggressively. I won’t do that.
Does it annoy you/make you relieved/leave you non-plussed that you can’t say ‘I won the Perrier’?
I don’t tend to tell people I’ve won awards. It doesn’t really come up in conversation. How would that work, anyway? ‘Hello, my name is Bridget and I won the Edinburgh Comedy Award. Have you ever won anything?’ If someone else mentions it, I just agree with whatever they’ve called it. I’m glad I didn’t win it when it was called the if.comedy award: bit cumbersome, wasn’t it? With all the dots and if’s. I’m not sure about the Eddies, either. Sounds like it’s been called after someone called Eddie. Like Eddie Large.
How has winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award changed things?
Of course, it’s given my career a big old boost. But in actual terms, the most impact it’s had is on live work, which is what I’m concentrating on for the time being, so that’s been brilliant. It’s impossible to tell whether it’s all down to the award or not, but it would have undoubtedly made a difference to ticket sales. Some people obviously just came to see the show that won the award. How many, I’ll never know, but it will be interesting to see if they come back this year to see the new one. The other brilliant (and best) thing winning did was to re-position me in terms of how I am perceived. So now people can associate me with an award, rather than with another person. Boom!