Edinburgh Comedy Awards: Our critics predict who will win
“Of all the fine shows I’ve seen at the Fringe so far, one of the most straightforwardly enjoyable has been Phil Wang’s Kinabalu, which I’d be pleased to see get some awards recognition. I’m a sucker for smart comics who wear their intelligence lightly and are willing to play the fool, with Wang’s ludicrous “lube” buying routine a delightful amuse bouche for more substantial material about race and post-colonialism. Stand-up is becoming ever more international, and a feature of this festival has been comics from a Commonwealth background intensely scrutinising the legacy of the British Empire, the result of the Brexit vote prompting a focus beyond Europe and a re-appreciation of what it means to be second or third generation British. Born in Malaysia to a Chinese-Malay father and English mother, Wang has developed a more informed, nuanced appreciation of race-relations than most. But while he argues some serious and even contentious points, nailing the BBC Asian Network for its over-reliance on the Indian subcontinent in its comedy output, he never lets these get in the way of the funny, masterfully alternating his delivery between thoughtful commentary and imperial levels of swaggering arrogance.”
“Real talent is a wonderful thing, and not as thick on the ground as might be wished in the world of stand up comedy. True passion is even less in evidence. And passion in comedy is the difference between a slice of lemon and a tequila slammer. If you are lucky, you will get to see them combine and then you get something unforgettable. This year you get Terry Alderton. Terry has been around the block, taken a couple of dodgy detours and disappeared up a close for a while. But he is back. And he is blindingly good. He is loving the show, we are loving the show and if laughter made the world go round we’d all be dizzy. There is so much good around this year - Hannah Gadsby’s show is heartstopping, Elf Lyons has more creativity in her first five minutes than half the other comics here have in their entire show, but Terry has a firepower that will surely knock the can off the stand and win the prize.”
“Depression and comedy often walk hand in hand. The urge to get up on stage to make a room full of strangers laugh can work as a form of anxiety aversion therapy. Seymour Mace’s Magical Sh*tcakes From Heaven is a wonderfully daft, inventive and strangely poignant show, and an explicit illustration of that cathartic impulse. Mace is a sardonic Geordie who suffers from anxiety and depression. As he states outright, he’s only ever happy when performing on stage. His absurdist comedy involves homemade costumes, scatological artwork, splenetic rants, weird charity shop bric-a-brac, audience quizzes and childlike games. He’s a natural born clown, a sensitive misanthrope raging against the darkness with stupid props and jokes. Mace deserves to win because he’s discovered a unique method of tackling a serious subject in an all-inclusive, elevating manner. He’s using the art of comedy performance as an escape route, both for himself and for his audience. That may sound hifalutin, but Mace’s determined combination of overt silliness and foul-mouthed self-awareness keeps pretension at bay. Jerry Lewis once said: “Comedy is a man in pain.” Mace is uproarious proof of that.”
“I’d like to see Hannah Gadsby win this year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award. Her show is the one people talk about, in hushed tones. “Have you seen it yet?” I have also heard comedians say they were so sideswiped by it they were hardly able to do their own shows afterwards.
One of the things I love about comedy is that it can be anything it likes. In Nanette Hannah Gadsby rips to shreds the comic persona she has built over the years and shows the world what is underneath. Nanette is funny, beautiful angry and smart. It’s the story of one woman’s realisation that she doesn’t have to be what other people want her to be. And if things in her life have hurt her she can show that hurt. Gadsby says she is giving up comedy after Nanette and going to live in Tasmania and write books and study art history. I hope she doesn’t. She’s a funny comic and a great storyteller and we would miss her if she didn’t ever come back. But Nanette deserves to win all the awards because it changes everyone who goes to see it. I love that comedy can do that.”