All entries for Friday 01 February 2008

February 01, 2008

On the Chortle Awards

So you can now vote for the Chortle Awards here and until the 6th of February from a shortlist of 4 acts in 8 different catagories. You can also vote for best venue here

The shortlists have been drawn up by some massive names in comedy criticism and promotion: Steve Bennet, Bruce Dessau, Ed Morrish, etc.

So I wonder why the eventual decision is left up to us, the public. See, Chortle is a great website, it’s the only website out there that deals with UK stand-up from “in the trenches”. Sure, they review the big theatre shows too and keep up with the latest Russell Brand gossip, but more importantly they cover the little guy, they have listings for clubs of all sizes and reviews of club acts that everywhere else ignores for 11 months of the year, before pausing briefly to review them if they do an Edinburgh show. And the Chortle awards reflect this, with some big names in some catagories, some names that are probably known to most Chortle readers, and then others that are even more obscure. This is to be commended, but raises problems in a public poll.

See, as I’m going through attempting to vote, I’m feeling like a fraud, like I shouldn’t be voting as of the 40 acts, I’ve not seen 11 of them, some of those I haven’t heard of and if we factor in the awards for specific shows I haven’t seen (though I’ve seen the acts to other work) or comics I haven’t seen perform in a few years, that number reaches 17, nearly half of the nominations. And I spend summer 2006 writing for the site!
Now I’m not suggesting that the sort of people that visit Chortle are the sort that want to vote “Peter Kay” in every catagory, but I consider myself fairly well versed in the world of stand-up, maybe not quite as much as a few years ago when I was promoting a gig myself but I still feel like I know more than most. As such I imagine there will be very few people able to pass judgement in a fair and balenced way on the acts, and hence it becomes a popularity contest. Who can get the most friends and friends of friends and members of a Facebook group to vote for them.
Which is a real shame when you get together so much critical talent to draw up the shortlist.

That said, there’s nothing I can do about it and people are going to vote regardless, so here’s my utterly ill-informed look and suggestions for each catagory:

Best newcomer: Nat Luurtsema, Greg McHugh, Holly Walsh, Jack Whitehall.
This is the worst one for me, I have seen none of them and voting for Holly Walsh purely because it’s the only name I’ve even heard of seems unfair. Tom will probably tell me that I’ve actually seen some, or even all, of them at The Reckless Moment at some point but when you have a weekly gig with about 4 new acts per week on you tend not to remember all 20 names and acts you see in a month! Fortunately the one good thing about the Chortle poll is you can vote ‘none’, so you’re not compelled to pick a winner in every catagory if you just want to vote in one.

Breakthrough act: Tom Basden, Lloyd Langford, Jon Richardson, Terry Saunders.
Probably one of the best shortlists of the awards – I think I may have seen Tom Basden but I don’t really remember, Jon Richardson is awesome, his Edinburgh show was great, focusing on his weird OCD outlook on life, while Terry Saunders’ Edinburgh show wasn’t hilariously funny but was one of those brilliant little storytelling shows that makes you smile. Steve Bennett reviewed it for Chortle with the line “the guy with the Ben Folds t-shirt on was definately at the right gig”. I was the guy in the Ben Folds t-shirt.
But anyone that knows me will know I can only possibly vote for one person here. Lloyd Langford MC’d almost every gig I ran back at Warwick, he still does it now. He’s probably the one person in the world that’s been involved with comedy at Warwick Students Union for longer than I was. He performed at my 21st birthday party. He’s a top bloke, and most of all, he’s very very funny. One thing I remember was meeting with the comics before the show one night, and one saying “Lloyd compere’s this gig doesn’t he? Be a nice change to have a student compere who isn’t shit”. So there we go, I suggest you vote for Lloyd Langford (and if you want to check, I believe he’s still supporting Rhod Gilbert on his theatre tour

Best compere: Stephen K Amos, Jarred Christmas, Greg Davies, Stephen Grant
Another weird one, with the exceptions of Stephen Grant I’ve seen all of the acts here but not seen any of them compering, and only seen Davies recently as part of We Are Klang. So in my informed decision, based on what I think they’d be like if they were compering, I’m voting for Jarrd Christmas, mostly as I really liked his Edinburgh show a few years back. That said, it wasn’t as good as We Are Klang but Greg Davies is only 33% of We Are Klang and Jared was probably about 65% as good as We Are Klang so I’m voting for him. See the logic!

Best headliner: Rhod Gilbert, Jim Jeffries, Michael McIntrye, Glenn Wool
Glenn Wool I like but haven’t seen since Glastonbury a few years back so don’t feel like I can judge. Michael McIntyre I’ve only seen on TV and while he seems like a consumate Jongleurs headliner he’s a little too smug for my tastes. So that leaves Rhod Gilbert and Jim Jeffries. Wish I could vote for both, they’re both brilliant albeit very different. Jeffries is rude and shocking, Gilbert is whimsical and soft-spoken. In the end I’m going for Jim Jeffries mostly as I had the pleasure of seeing him headline a tiny little gig in Leamington and be the only comic in the history of said club to ever get an encore, which really is the definition of ‘great headliner’.

The remaining catagories I’m leaving for tommorow (or the day after), in an attempt to spread out my blogging a bit more, and not just write novella length posts every few weeks!

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