Edinburgh Fringe

Julia Masli and Paul Foot amongst winners of (ISH) Edinburgh Awards

Saturday 26th August 2023, 11:00am

(ISH) Edinburgh Comedy Awards trophies

The winners of the inaugural (ISH) Edinburgh Comedy Awards have been announced at a ceremony at The Three Sisters, hosted by Patrick Monahan.

With voting ending up tied, the judges for these alternative awards selected two winners in each category. The results are:

Best Show

Julia Masli: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Julia Masli

Julia Masli: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Paul Foot: Dissolve. Paul Foot

Paul Foot: Dissolve

Best Newcomer

Dan Tiernan: Going Under. Dan Tiernan

Dan Tiernan: Going Under

Fiona Ridgewell: No-Nonsense. Fiona Ridgewell

Fiona Ridgewell: No-Nonsense

Panel Prize

Show for Gareth Richards

A Show for Gareth Richards

This is the fundraising show, organised by Mark Simmons (who collected the prize) and Danny Ward, that took the slot of Gareth Richards, who died before the festival started. A fundraiser for his children currently stands at more than £47,000.

The '(Insert Sponsor Here) Edinburgh Comedy Awards' began earlier this summer, when the long-established Edinburgh Comedy Awards lost their funding and looked unlikely to go ahead in 2023.

After the Edinburgh Comedy Awards announced they'd found new sponsors, the organisers of these alternative awards decided to go ahead anyway "because of a surge of support from comedians, producers, venues and Nica Burns who runs the Edinburgh Comedy Awards themselves."

The results were decided by a team of volunteer judges - including performers, producers and technicians - who watched approximately 600 eligible comedy shows at the Fringe. A long list was prepared in the middle of the Fringe followed by a short list on the final Monday.

Nathan Cassidy. Credit: Andy Hollingworth

It was revealed at the ceremony that the idea for these awards and the driving force for making them happen came from comedian Nathan Cassidy, who said in a speech at the end of the ceremony that he wanted his name kept out of things until the end, in case people thought it was a stunt.

He explained: "This was never going to be a gimmick, much as my friends wanted me to use the ceremony to announce myself as the winner of all 3 prizes! It was a genuine attempt to see whether you could run an awards similar to the Edinburgh Comedy Awards but with volunteers, and I think we pulled it off."

Nathan went on to thank the team of judges headed up by comedian and producer Sarah Bowles, the press and the venues "for their incredible support with complimentary tickets that made running an awards for free possible".

He commended: "The Edinburgh Comedy Awards has always been very special to me from a young kid, it was always so exciting and I thought an Edinburgh without the awards would be something less. And then the awards obviously got their sponsorship but we got so much support for this idea that we thought we'd do it anyway, and very happy that we did. And getting that support from Nica Burns too I thought we must be doing something right.

"And the main reason I'm happy we did is that it was community coming together for something good and different - comedians, producers, critics on the panel being supportive of artists, releasing the long lists in the middle of the Fringe to give comedians a boost, the way we talked about awards on our website - that a lot in awards is luck and the beauty of comedy is you don't need awards to tell you whether your show is exceptional or not. And of course giving recognition to the stand out thing at the Fringe this year - Show for Gareth Richards - we're gutted we couldn't secure sponsorship this year so we could give 5k to the fund but I hope everyone supports the Just Giving Page."

Nathan also talked about mental health at the Fringe. He said: "We don't have to do things at the Fringe the way they've always been done. I think we need to talk to comedians more and ask them what do they want, how do we want things to be run so hundreds of great and very funny acts who are never talked about in these ceremonies don't come out of Edinburgh financially and emotionally broken - yes, it's not the war in Ukraine but the Edinburgh Fringe is hard mentally and there are a few people including Rafaela Nunes in the room today who runs a not for profit organisation for creatives threadup.co.uk who have tried to get discussions going with EdFringe about mental health and very little tangible happens, every year. This is one of the things we wanted to show in running the awards the way we have - you can do anything very differently to how they have been done before if we come together and support each other. And, again, don't get me wrong there is so much that is wonderful about the Fringe, so many great people, people working hard... but please talk to us, the comedians, and we will have a view on how some things could be differently here, we have shown with the ISH Edinburgh Comedy Awards you don't always have to do things the same way."

Nathan ended his speech by telling the story of someone that was long listed coming up to him in the middle of the Fringe and saying "I am completely thrilled with this, people like me never get on any lists, and I can use this forever."

He concluded: "That's one of the many beautiful moments I'll remember from this, the reactions from comedians who never get on lists and deserve recognition - and that's one of the reasons why the ISH will be back next year... maybe!"

Highlights video

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