Bridget Christie, Nick Helm, Aisling Bea, Romesh Ranganathan and Seann Walsh all nominated for gongs
And so, the Edinburgh Comedy Award nominations are in. And are we spitting blood with the outrage? Well, no, not really. The all-British main list features old-school stand-up (Seann Walsh, Carl Donnelly), a funny feminist (Bridget Christie), a bit of character-led mayhem (Max & Ivan), a couple of gentle surrealists playing with the form (Mike Wozniak, James Acaster) and a shouty man not afraid of showing off his tummy (Nick Helm).
There was clearly some heated debate going on when it was past 3pm on Wednesday and still no word from the awards bunker; normally at that juncture, the nominees would have been have received at least two hours of congratulatory tweets and messages. Given that there are seven nominations (when David O’Doherty won in 2009 he only had to bat away three other contenders), the arguments must have revolved around who should be knocked off the list and a compromise was presumably reached to keep the whole lot on there.
Does this then mean that 2013 is a vintage year? Time and distance will probably act as the best judge on that, but in the thick of it, it hasn’t especially felt like one. There’s certainly not been a Tommy Tiernan, Daniel Kitson or Demetri Martin scenario where they could have just handed the prize over after week one; of course, not even overwhelmingly positive critical and audience acclaim doesn’t mean a win is in the bag: just ask Johnny Vegas, Bo Burnham or Pappy’s.
All of the nominees have received a fair smattering of excellent star ratings, but given the vast amount of media organs out there reviewing this year, you’d have to bomb pretty spectacularly not to get someone to love you: if there’s still a poster on the streets not adorned by a plethora of stars, the act has either just started a late run, refused to have any reviewers for their work-in-progress or are a total dud.
A quick glimpse at some stats reveals a glorious outcome for the Pleasance with five of the nominees doing their thing there, while the only venue opposition comes from The Stand with Bridget Christie and Mike Wozniak both making their shortlist debut. The more cruel satirists will be licking their chops at the prospect of uncomfortable silences across the breakfast table given the widely-reported hostility from Stewart Lee (aka Mr Christie) down the years to these particular awards in all their sponsored guises.
On the Best Newcomer list, we have been reasonably positive about all the nominees: Aisling Bea, John Kearns (the only Free Fringe act on either list this year), Liam Williams, Matt Okine and Romesh Ranganathan. Sure, there are some names that might have been included and wouldn’t have put a blemish on either list: The Pin or Thünderbards could have flown the flag for sketch comedy, Ivo Graham delivered a confident and hilarious debut hour, and those who wanted more female representation could point to warmly-received shows from Nadia Kamil, Sara Pascoe and Hannah Gadsby.
So, cards on the table time: is a double female victory of Bridget Christie and Aisling Bea purely the stuff of fantasy? Perhaps. We handed him five-stars so maybe we should be blowing the trumpet for Nick Helm? Still going for Bea as Best Newcomer, though.