Record number of women in running for Fringe's top comedy award

More women than ever before have been shortlisted for the main comedy award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, organisers have revealed.

Edinburgh Comedy Awards director says it is "unprecedented" for four women to be nominated for the main prize for best show.
Edinburgh Comedy Awards director says it is "unprecedented" for four women to be nominated for the main prize for best show.

Elf Lyons, Hannah Gadsby, Mae Martin and Sophie Willan are all in the running for the £10,000 Edinburgh Comedy Awards prize.

A record nominees will be battling it out for the first time, one more than in 2015 and 2016.

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None of the contenders for this year's prize, who also include Ahir Shah, John Robins, Jordan Brookes, Mat Ewins and Spencer Jones, have previously made the shortlist.

The best comedy show honour at the Fringe has only previously won by four women, although only three - Bridget Christie, Laura Solon and Jenny Eclair - were for solo shows.

The most female nominees there have been for the award in the past were two - in 2010 and 2012.

Awards director Nica Burns said it was "unprecedented" that gender equality had almost been achieved in the nine-strong nominations list.

Just 20 per of eligible shows for the awards feature female solo comics this year.

Only one female nominee has made the shortlist for the main award over the last four years.

Three of the eight contenders for the best new prize in the awards are also female.

Ms Burns said: "It's the year of the ladies this year. It's down to a combination of confidence and the fact more women are doing stand-up comedy.

"When I started working on the awards in the early 1980s something like five per cent of comedy shows had women in them.

"That figure grew very slowly and things only really started to change in the 21st century. It's taken that long to get where we are now.

"We had a female winner as part of Cambridge Footlights with Emma Thompson in 1981, but it was not until Jenny Eclair in 1995 that we had a female solo winner.

"The number of female comedians have definitely grown in the last five years or so.

"The old chestnut about whether women are funny has been well and truly buried.

"For women to make up almost half of the shortlist is absolutely extraordinary. We also have a very diverse set-of women, including comics from Canada and Australia.

"The picture is looking absolutely great now - it's very exciting. It's been a fight and it's taken a long time. It's brilliant it's happened in a year when we've been talking a lot about gender and identity."


Ahir Shah: Control

Elf Lyons: Swan

Hannah Gadsby - Nanette

John Robins: The Darkness of Robins

Jordan Brookes: Body of Work

Mae Martin: Dope

Mat Ewins Presents Adventureman 7: The Return of Adventureman

Sophie Willan: Branded

Spencer Jones: The Audition


Chris Washington: Dream Big (Within Reason)

Darren Harriott: Defiant

Ed Night: Anthem for Doomed Youth

Kwame Asante: Open Arms

Lauren Pattison: Lady Muck

Lucy Pearman: Maid of Cabbage

Natalie Palamides: LAID

Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead