Hannah Gadsby & John Robins win Edinburgh Comedy Award

A historic first as the Edinburgh Comedy Award is shared by Hannah Gadsby and John Robins

Feature by Ben Venables | 28 Aug 2017
  • Hannah Gadsby and John Robins with Richard Gadd and the League of Gentlemen

For the first and only time in its 37 years the Edinburgh Comedy Award was shared between two performers, with Hannah Gadsby and John Robins both claiming the 2017 prize. The 2017 Best Newcomer award went to Natalie Palamides. There were still a total of three prizes awarded, as the judges choose not to award the Panel Prize this year, usually given to a show or individual that embodies the 'spirit of the Fringe.'

All three winning artists couldn't have put on more different shows and it demonstrate the artistic range comedy encompasses and what the awards recognise. Gadsby's show Nanette questioned the limits of comedy, especially in responding to the prejudice and violence homophobia releases into a community. It was for this reason she said the prize was "bittersweet". 

John Robins' The Darkness of Robins was a voyeuristic one for comedy fans given it centred on his relationship with fellow comedian Sara Pascoe. Robins thanked Pascoe in his speech and still carries a gift from her as a tailisman. He also thanked his agency Phil McIntyre Entertainment for not allowing its performers to accrue debt at the Fringe – Robins encouraged others to do the same. Physical comedian Natalie Palamides thanked her mentor Doctor Brown (who scooped the main prize in 2012), while simultaneously calling him a 'bitch' for his support with her egg smashing fertility show LAID

All three faced strong competition in both quality and quantity on the respective shortlists, with a record number of shows nominated this year – nine for the main award and eight for newcomer. The awards were presented by The League of Gentlemen, twenty years after the group scooped the main prize, and 2016 winner Richard Gadd, who milked his stage time for all it was worth in order for him to "stay relevant" as reigning champion.

The 2017 Edinburgh Comedy Award ceremony took place on Sat 26 Aug at Dovecot Studios