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We need professional comedy critics, says producer Nica Burns

At the annual Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards lunch, Nica Burns, director of the awards, highlighted the importance of experienced comedy critics

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Nica Burns

The director of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards, Nica Burns, used the awards lunch on Sunday (4 August 2013) to stress the importance of professional comedy critics.

Burns, who has directed and produced the awards since 1984, told the guests that the UK has had professional comedy critics since the 1980s and in a worldwide survey of national characteristics, Britain was the only nation to talk about the importance of having a "great sense of humour".

In 2010 American comedian Bo Burnham performed at the Fringe and told her that for the first time in five years he "had a serious review by a critic who understands comedy and knows how to write about it. This doesn't happen in America". The New York Times appointed its first comedy critic the next year.

While praising bloggers and comedy websites, she also emphasised the need for professional comedy critics, with "age old expertise, training and knowledge", but acknowledged that no one has yet found a successful business model for this since the digital revolution.

Burns took the opportunity to thank all of the critics that had attended the lunch, telling guests that many had struggled to get to the Fringe this year and some had to fund the trip themselves. "Let's hope they'll all be here next year," she said.

It was also announced that Foster's would sponsor the awards, originated by Perrier in 1981, for another three years. The Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards winners will be announced on 24 August 2013.

- Louise Miles