Scotland's Richard Gadd and Scott Gibson win Best Comedy and Best Newcomer awards, and Iraq Out & Loud picks up the Panel Prize
It seems there is no such thing as home advantage when it comes to the world's largest arts festival. It's been a long-time since 1987, the last time a Scottish stand-up – Arnold Brown – won the most coveted prize in comedy.
This year, however, the tables have turned with both winners hailing from home turf. Richard Gadd collected the main Edinburgh Comedy Award for his show Monkey See, Monkey Do, and Scott Gibson scooped Best Newcomer for Life After Death.
Though two very different styles of comedy show, both forged great humour from the aftermath of separate kinds of trauma. Both shows also had an uplifting implication, that however bleak an experience may be, it can be turned into strength and light through creative expression. At the end of each respective hour, Gadd and Gibson paid their appreciation to their audience simply for being able to perform. For all the hot-air and pretentiousness that can envelop the Edinburgh Fringe, here were two shows grounded in real experience, from two artists who clung to their creative work as if it were a life raft.
Then there's the Panel Prize. The 'spirit of the Fringe' award was awarded to Iraq Out & Loud, the continuous reading of all 12 volumes of the Chilcot report by volunteers, which truly brought together so many people at the festival and couldn't be a better representative of what the Fringe is all about.
It also recognises the work of Bob Slayer, who has made many contributions to making the Fringe a better place over the last few years, and there was no-one better than the brilliant team, including co-producer Sorcha Shanahan, by the BlundaBus to bring this ambitious undertaking to the Fringe with just two weeks' preparation. As Director of the Comedy Awards Nica Burns said: "This was a big idea, of the moment and of huge importance involving a large part of the comedy community. It truly captured the spirit of all that can be possible at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe."