The If.Comedy award (formerly the Perrier), the UK’s highest-profile comedy accolade, went to Irishman David O’Doherty (pictured) for his show Let’s Comedy. O’Doherty, who has been performing at the Fringe since 2000, was described by veteran awards producer Nica Burns as “utterly delightful”. Burns said the decision had only come after “one of the longest, most animated debates” she has witnessed, but that it was O’Doherty’s ability to “fill the world with laughter and charm” that had eventually swung it. The If.Comedy best newcomer award went to North-East comic Sarah Millican for her show Sarah Millican\'s Not Nice.
The If.comedy winners were announced at midnight on Saturday (23 August) in a ceremony presented by last year’s winner Brendan Burns and fellow Aussie Clive James. O’Doherty, who beat fellow nominees Russell Kane, New York double-act Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler, and bookies’ favourite Rhod Gilbert, takes home an £8,000 cash prize and will headline the Intelligent Finance Comedy Award shows in a limited West End season.
And in a move which recognised the division caused this year by the creation of a standalone ‘Edinburgh Comedy Festival’, the judges elected to award the £4,000 Panel Prize to “all the comedians” who took part in this year’s festival – the money will be spent on an end-of-festival party.
The final round of Herald Angel awards - which have been running since 1996 and recognise “innovation and excellence across the spectrum of artistic activity” - were also announced on Saturday, and presented by National Theatre of Scotland artistic director Vicky Featherstone, herself a previous winner.
The Archangel award went to James Mackenzie, whose Zoo organisation has expanded from its Kirk O’Fields base to run the Zoo Southside venue, which has established itself as a prime location for international dance and physical theatre, including as festival home of Scottish Dance Theatre. Ryan Van Winkle, co-director of the Forest Fringe initiative – a programme of free events at the Forest Café which debuted this year – also received an Angel in recognition of his establishment of a new venue.
Other Angel winners in week three included Scot Al Seed for his Pleasance show The Fooligan, EIF video-installation piece Looking at Tazieh, and choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker dance company Rosas for their show Steve Reich Evening at the Festival Theatre. They also collected a ‘Little Devil’ award, given to practitioners who overcome adversity, for continuing with their opening night despite the accidental triggering of an on-stage sprinkler system moments before curtain-up. Australian musical group My Friend the Chocolate Cake and moustachioed Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos were the other Angel recipients for their shows at the Spiegel Garden.
Herald Angel winners from the past two weeks include: from week one, Deep Cut, Peter McDonald for his performance in Adam Rapp’s Nocturne, Enda Walsh for The New Electric Ballroom (Archangel award), Real Circumstance theatre company for their “trouper’s” response to the flooding of the Underbelly venue (Little Devil award); and from week two, Once and for all we are going to tell you who we are so shut up and listen, the African Children\'s Choir, the State Ballet of Georgia, Polish performer Magdalena Cielecka for her work in Dybbuk and 4:48 Psychosis at the EIF, Scottish Opera for The Two Widows, Chamber’s Street Jazz Bar chief Bill Kyle (Archangel award) and Norman Lebrecht for his perseverance during a blackout at the book festival (Little Devil award).
Finally, The Stage awards for acting excellence were dominated this year by Philip Ralph’s verbatim play Deep Cut, about the 1995 death of private Cheryl James at the Deepcut army barracks. Ciaran McIntyre and Rhian Blythe picked up the best actor and actress awards for their portrayals of Cheryl’s parents (See News, 18 Aug 2008).
Other awards went to Matthew Zajac, who received Best Solo Performer for The Tailor of Inverness, and the cast of Motherland - Rachel Adamson, Charlotte Binns, Eleanor Clarke and Helen Embleton – who were awarded Best Ensemble for their show at the Underbelly, which last week also picked up a Fringe First (See News, 15 Aug 2008).
- by Theo Bosanquet