The 2013 British Comedy Awards once again made headlines… mainly for all the wrong reasons. If it wasn’t the Daily Mail complaining about the vulgarity of the current crop of TV comics, it was John Maloney’s wonderful FaceBook reaction to the lack of acclaim for gigging circuit comedians. A couple of years ago the Perrier Award (Ok Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award… but it’s still the Perrier) and the Chortle Awards were given short shrift for the lack of female comedians on their short lists.
Well here’s a thing that has been ignored, At this year’s British Comedy Awards not one nominee was Scottish. Not one Scottish comedian, not one Scottish programme, not even one made up award for an international Scottish movie star who just happened to be in the city. I can’t even recall one of the award presenters being Scottish. However we are continually told that the London meeja is full of Scots. We know for a fact that some of the biggest selling comedians in the UK are Scots. We watch and listen to some incredibly innovative and hilarious TV and radio by Scots – granted there is also some absolute pish that is commissioned by BBC Scotland – No matter, it is time that we properly celebrated the comedic talent Scotland has to offer. The london based media are not going to do it for us, we should do it ourselves.
Every year for a month, the UK’s comedy critics focus their sights on our capital city. They do not however give anywhere near as much proportional attention to home grown acts as they do the over hyped Russell wannabes from doon sooth. Occasionally Chortle will review a couple of shows at the Glasgow Comedy Festival. Likewise, at the organisers expense, Steve Bennett comes to Glasgow to review the Scottish Comedian of the Year final. But other than that, very little proper critiquing or celebration of Scottish comedy takes place. Take the recent Clutha gig for example. Had that line up of comedians, for such a high profile event, taken place anywhere in London, Birmingham, Brighton or Manchester there would have been numerous reviews by highly regarded comedy critics. In recent months Chortle has reviewed charity galas in all four of the aforementioned cities, with several acts performing and being critiqued in multiple shows. The Clutha gig would have offered an opportunity to review at least a dozen top Scottish acts who have not been reviewed by Chortle in the last three or four years.
To be clear, this is not a dig at Chortle. I am using it as an example of the lack of London based media interest in what happens on the Scottish Comedy circuit.
2014 is a big year for Scottish politics, sport and culture. We should make it a big year for Scottish Comedy too. We should celebrate it properly. The Scottish Legal, Advertising, Marketing, Events, Rock, Film, Fashion, Design, Business and even Architecture industries have annual awards ceremonies, so why not the Scottish Comedy Industry?
Politics, simple politics and fear. Fear of awarding success in comedy. Well fuck it. Two things last week’s Clutha gig showed me is how resourceful an industry we are and that if given a kick up the backside we will happily cast aside petty differences to work together for a positive outcome.
So here is my proposal… I would like there to be an annual, totally inclusive Scottish Comedy Awards, voted for by the comedians, promoters, journalists, agents, venue staff and TV / Radio production staff of the Scottish comedy circuit, be they open spots, large theatres or the Head of Entertainment for BBC Scotland.
How would it work?
Well first off we would need to sort out categories to award and a means to award them.
For 8 years now I have been told that Since Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges, Des Clarke, Janey Godley or Raymond Mearns never entered the Scottish Comedian of the Year competition that it is never won the best Scottish comedian. Well it is a competition for which you need to be brilliant in the final and more crucially you need to be in it to win it. The Scottish Comedy Awards would celebrate year round talent, not only that, but celebrate talent of all levels from newbies to auld hacks.
So, the categories:
Best Support Act
Best Open Spot
Best Comedy Actor/Actress
Best TV / Radio comic
Best Tour / Fringe Show
Best TV Show
Best Radio Show
Best Large Comedy Venue – e.g. Old Fruitmarket or Kings Theatre
Best Chain Comedy Venue – e.g. The Stand Glasgow or Jongleurs Glasgow
Best Comedy Club – e.g. The Crow Bishopbriggs or Beehive Edinburgh
I am sure there are other possibilities for categories, the above are just my own initial thoughts. Tell me what you think.
How winners are chosen:
Everyone in the Scottish Comedy industry gets the chance to nominate 3 people / things per category. The actual logistics of how this is done can be sorted at a later date. My initial thoughts are that everyone fills out a google docs form and includes their name, email address and what their connection to comedy is.
A panel of about 8 – 12 people – a mixture of respected promoters, comics, venue staff and journalists – whittle down through the nominations to give 3 or 4 Nominees per category.
Everyone in the Scottish Comedy industry gets to vote. Again this would be with some type of google docs form or similar. A more techy mind will come up with a plan that helps prevent cunts from multiple voting.
We have a big piss up, sorry… awards bash. I don’t think we would do a black tie sit down meal affair. More likely get a fancy bar for the night – a neutral space with zero comedy connections, somehow blag a drinks tab and then shambolically announce the winners and slag them off.
All of the above is just an idea. For it to work it needs you guys to take ownership of it. It needs you guys to tell me what you think will work and what you think will not work.
Most important of all, think of the media attention the event will get and the increased awareness that the nominated and winning acts will receive doon sooth.
More media coverage and more titles means better chances for progression both individually and collectively as a circuit that is slowly diminishing due to the economic constraints of our audiences.
What do you think?