A love rat, a shelf stacker and a parody of Fleabag: Edinburgh comedy awards shortlist announced | Edinburgh Festival 2022
Nominations have been announced for the first Edinburgh Comedy Awards in three years – and they include a notorious tabloid ‘love rat’, an act who quit comedy amid the pandemic to pile supermarket shelves, and a woman transgender with the liveliest comedy on the sidelines. The so-called ‘Comedy Oscars’ have been in cold storage since 2019, but are being revived with a nine-person shortlist that also features, in a rare departure from convention, a show that was once a smash hit. Elsewhere in the UK – Liz Kingsman’s extraordinary parody of the ‘messy woman’ shots at the Fleabag, One-Woman Show.
Nominations have also been announced for the Best Newcomer award, a list that includes 23-year-old Leo Reich (whose electrifying set Literally Who Cares?! would have warranted a spot on the main roster), Irish-Italian act Vittorio Angelone and Emily Wilson of New Jersey, with a winning show about her 15-year-old appearance on The X Factor. At least until the winners are announced on Saturday, surely this year’s happiest comic will be Hull-born Amy Gledhill, who exceptionally features on both shortlists – with her solo show on the newcomer list and as one half of sketch duo The Delightful Sausage, who are nominated, for the second time, for the main prize.
The favorite for this gong (comedy’s most high-profile bauble, whose previous winners include Steve Coogan, Hannah Gadsby and Starstruck star Rose Matafeo) might be transgender comedian Jordan Gray, the first-ever solo trans nominee, whose Is It a Bird? tore it up late every night in a portable building in George Square. Gray’s sitcom pilot Transaction has already been picked up for series by ITV.
Brighton’s Seann Walsh is nominated, for the first time since 2013, with Is Dead. Happy Now?, which chronicles the mental health fallout of his high-profile off-screen kiss with Strictly Come Dancing co-star Katya Jones. (As Walsh recalls on his show: “The whole country fucking hated me!”)
Kingsman’s offering, a huge hit from the Soho theater last year, is a surprise inclusion on the list – at least for those who thought its colossal success (it was the runaway comedy event of 2021) might l ‘exclude. But it’s a fantastic show. Also in the running are Colin Hoult’s farewell to his gushing theatrical alter ego Anna Mann, eccentric Australian actor Sam Campbell and Lauren Pattison – with a set recounting her experiences during the pandemic, when she agreed to work in a supermarket for survive the loss of his stand-up income.
The excellent Alfie Brown (son of impressionist Dead Ringers Jan Ravens) is nominated for his beautiful socio-political show Sensitive Man, and Coventry-based Josh Pugh, who after “four bangs, never had a good one, continues to shoot” (as he puts it on his show), now has a positive Edinburgh experience to savor. Glaswegian stand-up Larry Dean receives a second nomination (first was in 2018) for his show Fudnut.
The shortlist for both awards was noted for its global and regional diversity, with acts included from the US, Australia and across the UK. There are only two artists of color included, however, both on the roster of newcomers: Emmanuel Sonubi and Netherlands-based Mexican-American Lara Ricote. A lesser but still visible omission is any act of clown comedy, at a festival that featured strong offerings from artists (Julia Masli, Sami Abu Wardeh, Frankie Thompson) making bold new works in that tradition. The winners are revealed at a gala on Saturday and will receive £10,000. The announcement will end the longest ever reign as Edinburgh Comedy Prize champion, that of 2019 winner Jordan Brookes, who has rarely missed a chance to boast of his unbroken three-year supremacy . The winner of the best newcomer award – last time out, the fantastic Catherine Cohen – will receive £5,000.