Stephen Fry has said the Edinburgh Fringe is “staggeringly exciting” as he announced Jordan Brookes as the winner of the best comedy show.
Brookes was presented with the Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Award for his show I’ve Got Nothing.
The awards were announced by last year’s winner of the best show award, New Zealander Rose Matafeo, and Fry at the presentation event at Dovecot Studios on Saturday.
The audience sang Happy Birthday to Fry, who celebrates his 62nd birthday on Saturday, and was presented with a giant cake decorated with a black and white picture of him with his fellow Cambridge Footlights as they won in 1981, the award’s inaugural year.
He joked “in those days cakes were black and white” as the sponge treat was carried off the stage.
Now in their 39th year, the awards celebrate both emerging and established talent at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with TV comedy channel Dave taking over the sponsorship this year.
Actor and comic Fry said: “When I first came here in 1979 I was overwhelmed by the Fringe. I was in three plays that year and the next year I wrote a play to bring to the Fringe and did six shows a day.
“The third year I came with the Cambridge Footlights, with Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson, won the first ever Perrier Award in 1981. The Fringe means everything to me. I wouldn’t be here without it.”
He added: “Anybody who has the guts, who feels like they have something to say, this is what this place is about and it’s staggeringly exciting, it’s brilliant and there really are no losers because all of you in here and all your friends are funny people and good people who have things to say.”
Two sketch show double-acts were up for the best show title for the first time – Chris Cantrill and Amy Gledhill’s The Delightful Sausage is vying against Henry Perryment and Joe Barnes’s Goodbear.
Four stand-ups and three physical comedians completed the nine nominees, including The Guilty Feminist podcast host Jessica Fostekew and 2017 best show nominees Jordan Brookes and Spencer Jones.
Brookes said it felt “incredible” to win the £10,000 award and that he felt honoured to be part of the shortlist.
He said: “I really don’t think I’m deserving of this at all and it was such a nice honour to be part of such a diverse range of people in terms of background, and style, it felt like a really nice list to be part of and I feel genuinely honoured.”
Catherine Cohen won the Best Newcomer award while Jessica Brough and their initiative Fringe of Colour were awarded the Panel Prize which works to make the festival more accessible to performers and audiences of colour, with both awards featuring a £5,000 prize.
Previous winners include Al Murray, Bridget Christie, Frank Skinner, The League Of Gentlemen, Steve Coogan, Lee Evans and Russell Kane.
The judges ruled a record 759 shows eligible for the awards this year, and also drew up a shortlist of eight shows for the best newcomer title.
Nica Burns, director of Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards, said: “An extraordinary, record-breaking year with an almost 45/50% gender balance between female and male nominated comedians.
“As London Hughes and Sophie Duker said, they are indeed the first black British women to be nominated, London for Best Comedy Show and Sophie for Best Newcomer.
“The most diverse group of nominees in the history of the Awards with the widest range of genres: physical, absurd and surreal comedy, stand-up and sketch.”