British Comedy Awards; Winners and Losers Who Won

Thursday night was the Foster sponsored British Comedy Awards, and Wireless sent me along to have a bloody look and try to get near some comedians.

The star-studded event, organised by Avalon Entertainment, was broadcast live on Channel 4 and also to three 42" plasma screens in the press pen, where I was, where we were when Johnny Vegas went mental and said about the smartest thing anyone has for a while.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Firstly, the logo looks like the sort of tattoo a murderer might get at a rap rock festival, and inspires more of a sense that I'm about to be punched down some stairs than it does prepare me to laugh for a while. 

Hosted, as it is each year, by Jonathan Ross (dressed tonight like a disco man-servant), the British Comedy Awards seeks to honour and reward those brave men and women who go out each day in an effort to raise a smile from the shivering rain-blasted people of this country. What it actually does is hand giant titanium boxset looking statues to whomever is the most ubiquitous face on the goggle box every year. 

Not everyone who walked out of the Fountain Studios, Wembley, with an award was undeserving of that award. Some people; people like Nina Conti and Steve Coogan and the everyone behind Would I Lie To You, were richly entitled to their applause and their moment in the sun.

For the most part though, it was the same shit. Let's talk about it now shall we? 


BEST COMEDY PANEL SHOW - This one I can't argue with, and as I've said already Would I Lie To You bloody well deserved to win. Since Rob Brydon took over from Angus Dayton the show has got better and better. Have I Got News For You, also nominated, has been a shadow of itself for a long time now. 8 Out of 10 Cats is funny, but not consistently and A League of Their Own can fuck off because James Corden can fuck off an sports isn't funny.

BEST COMEDY ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME - The Last Leg, while being primary about sports, is a groundbreaking show. Two of the presenters are missing body parts from birth and it's going a long way to getting people comfortable with that sort of thing. It's not a show I watch, but it brings something important to the table. Conversely, The Graham Norton Show doesn't bring anything that we couldn't get from three easily startled 7 year old girls, but it's been on for ages so it won the award. Bravo.

BEST SKETCH SHOW - Comedy, as an industry, will always respect and reward innovation. So much so that they'll continue respecting and reward you long after you've stopped innovating. Hence the Best Sketch Show award for Harry & Paul, proving that you don't have to be good. You just have to have been good for a bit 20 years ago. Perversely one of the nominees was Horrible Histories, which is a children's programme. Also on the shortlist presumably were Ballamory and Zzzap.

Similarly to The Last Leg, the show they should have recognised was one of importance. It's Kevin, or The Kevin Eldon Show, was a shred of weird in the sub-tedious "safe" world of BBC comedy. It was a risk to make it, and that symbolizes that the old Beeb can still go out on a limb once a while, between commissioning 19 more season of Miranda. That it didn't win demonstrates that as the BBC aren't afraid to gamble, the Comedy Awards certainly are.

BEST SITCOM - I've only seen one of the shows nominated for this, Peep Show, and to be fair the last series was very disappointing. The winner, Getting On, stars Jo Brand and Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of It) and takes place in a hospital. No one in the press had ever seen it either, but we were all happy that Count Arthur Strong (some gentle nonsense about a zany old man) and Bad Education (Jack Whitehall Vehicle #237) didn't come away with a prize.

Better sitcoms are needed, it would appear.

BEST NEW COMEDY PROGRAMME - Now... I've never seen Plebs. I don't know what channel it's on (a cursory Googling reveals you can see Plebs on ITV2, which will be why I've never seen it) but it stars up and coming talent and has an interesting backdrop and premise. Three men on the lowest strata of Roman society try to get ahead in their lives. That sounds clever. Sounds like it might be funny. It stars Tom Rosenthal (Friday Night Dinner), Joel Fry (Game of Thrones) and Ryan Sampson (Fresh Meat) and looks to have an Inbetweeners crossed with Blackadder sort of feel to it. 

See if your TV gets ITV2, and give it a watch. Support good ideas.

BEST MALE TV COMIC - We're ignoring the fact that James Corden was nominated for this. I like him in Doctor Who, I do, but he's not a TV comic. He's not a comic at all. He's an actor who is frequently miscast in comic parts. So forget him. He didn't win anyway. 

Nor did David Mitchell, who should've won, or Jon Richardson who is also good. Lee Mack won, which is fine. I've nothing against him. He's funny playing against Brydon and Mitchell on Would I Lie To You, and his stand up is broad but enjoyable. Not who I'd have voted for, but certainly not a bad call.

BEST FEMALE TV COMIC - Prepare the bean bag and ready the crash mat, because that big wet egg of a woman Miranda Hart is once again nominated for an award. Apparently "falling over" is the same thing as jokes now. I'd settled into my second free win (tasted like Lipton's Ice Tea fermented in brown sugar) and was fully prepared to jeer at the TV when Miranda came lumbering up to accept her latest trophy like Big Bird's private school aunty, but it didn't happen. She didn't win.
Nina Conti won!

Look at her there! Someone good has won an award. As the polling staff of Avalon Entertainments scrambled to investigate the ballot software for bugs, Nina came out and looked genuinely pleased and proud to have won. She was also in constant motion, making trying to take a picture of her something of a difficult challenge. If you don't recognise her, Nina was in Black Books and is also a ventriloquist. Usually I don't hold with that sort of thing, but she's good at it and isn't insufferable to watch so she's easily better than any other comedy ventriloquist going. Looking at you Jeff Dunham, you piece of shit.

BEST COMEDY PERSONALITY - Being a Comedy Personality is not the same as being a comedian. A comedian writes jokes, works on their act, practices in small clubs and hones their craft. A comedy personality walks on stage at award shows and shrieks for fives minutes to the delight of humourless teenage girls and dumpy office spinsters. Alan Carr is a Comedy Personality. Fun Fact; He isn't actually a man, rather 18 Pugs stuffed into a suit and controlled by a near-sighted frog. 

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST - My pick for this is Nottingham born comedian and actor Johnny Sweet, star of excellent World War I comedy Chickens and also a very funny stand up. He's young (28 is still youngish) and he's certainly been a breakthrough this year. The winner of Breakthrough Artist was Adam Hills, a working comedian for 23 years. Not arguing that he's funny, but he can hardly be said to be a breakthrough artist considering his TV work (in this country alone) stretches back to 1997. 

Once again though, there can't have been many breakthroughs to choose from. Maybe if someone opened a door once in a while rather than barricading it shut with the lifeless flogged bodies of Harry Enfield and Graham Norton, we might see some Breakthrough Artists who HAVEN'T been fixtures on TV for 16 years. Wouldn't that be something.

BEST COMEDY FEMALE ACTOR - Miranda Hart. Eat your sludge everyone. Eat it. Why shine the light on up and talent such as Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat, Misfits) when you just heap more baubles onto the same bloody woman year after year for being unable to control her own equilibrium. Fucking Miranda Hart. Jesus.

BEST COMEDY MALE ACTOR - Jack Whitehall. Jumping Jack Flash-in-the-Pan Whitehall. Why write jokes or perfect an act when you can simply say "blatantly random" in a posh voice and gets students to worship you? (that's you by the way! Students! You inflicted Jack Whitehall on us, and now he won't go away! For shame!) 

He was also voted KING OF COMEDY for the second bastard year in a row. Voted for by the public. Or at least members of the public who are willing to part with £2.50 to call in their vote on a television poll. Idiots, basically. 

The other nominees were David Mitchell, Greg Davies and Kevin Eldon. In other words, some of the Best Comedy Actors. Jack Whitehall is nothing more than a trumped up head boy with expensive hair and the shocked expectant face of a simpleton jizzing into a ditch at the town fare. His award is a 3/4 of a lie. He's not Best. He's not Comedy. He's not an Actor. 

Fucks sake.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD - For The Day Today, for Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge, for The Trip, for so many things. Steve Coogan is one man who can take his award, which looks like a piece of Kevlar plating you bought at a London tourist souvenir shop, and know in his heart that it belongs with him. His life of achievement is awe inspiring and, despite a few missteps (The Parole Officer), he has had and still has a stellar career. Good on him and actually good on the British Comedy Awards for acknowledging him. 

Of course Channel 4 chose to cut his speech off so they could get to the important business of airing a repeat of Gogglebox, but that's fair enough. It's not like Gogglebox is some regurgitated dreck or anything. Oh wait...

I've gone on for a while here now actually. Damning and blasting the industry for the safety of my keyboard. Saying things about people here that I'd never dare say to their faces or even in a room they might walk into. It's easy for me, sitting on the very thin edge of the comedy industry and pitching stones at giants. I probably don't even know what I'm talking about. Jack Whitehall MUST be good, otherwise why would he be in so much TV? Miranda can't possibly be shit because it's on its 3rd series and the BBC are hardly going to keep commissioning something that's rubbish. 

New talent ARE thought of, they ARE given a chance to show us what they can do. British Comedy isn't some cynical tail-eating snake and The British Comedy Awards are much more than a management agency hiring out a room to give trophies to its clients. What would I know. I'm not a comedian. 

But Johnny Vegas is. 

When he started presenting the Writer's Guild award to Paul Whitehouse, along with Charlie Higson, most people in the press area weren't paying much attention to Johnny Vegas. Over in the corner on the screens, out the way as he was. They had to chat with Jack Whitehall, and Lee Mack and Tom Rosenthal. But after a minute or so the press stopped asking questions, and the comedians stopped answering them. Everyone just listened.

"Tonight is not about slagging off the sponsors or giving an international award away to someone just because he was here [Will Ferrell]. It is not about the state of TV and the fact you won't commission anything fresh ... There are people in this room that we don't admire, that we don't think should have won. There is is stuff which has been pushed through because of finance and Channel 4 feeling like the little brother compared to the BBC."

Well put mate. Much more succinct. 

Probably should've opened with that myself.

Words by Gazz Wood