Opinion: The Chortle Awards – Safe But Sound

Chortle Awards

When the fifth Chortle Award winner was announced last night and Pappy's won best Character or Sketch Act I received a sharp nudge in the ribs from my partner as she said "you know the results already don't you." I explained that I had been on the panel that chose the nominees, so they were educated, informed guesses, but the winners were chosen by readers of Chortle so ultimately any nominated name could have come out of Chortlemeister Steve Bennett's hat.

Maybe I should get into the betting game though. Close advance scrutiny of the list helped me to pick the correct winners. The awards might have been predictable, but, without exception, the right choices were made, showing that Chortle readers have exquisite taste. The only gong winner I failed to second guess was for Best DVD. I opted for Stewart Lee's live DVD but Fist of Fun 2 won, so I can claim to be half right on that.

As for the other awards Lucy Beaumont has become a distinctive fixture in recent new talent competitions so was a good shot for Best Newcomer. Dr Brown won the Foster's Award last summer so was a deserving Breakthrough Act. Club comic was a tougher call but Tony Law has really come good this year – in fact maybe he should have been best Breakthrough Act – as he said himself, he was a bit bemused because he doesn't get booked by a lot of clubs. I bet he will be now. Law also won Best Show, which made more sense, though in fairness Pappy's could have won that too and there would not have been a riot in the Cafe De Paris where the awards ceremony took place.

Best compere went rightly to Susan Calman. Jarred Christmas is a gold-plated MC but I'm sure he has won it before. If he hasn't maybe he should win it next year. The aforementioned Pappy's won their category and raised not a single eyebrow - they could have won it with a duff show, but this year's show, which opens at the Soho Theatre next week, might be called their Last Show Ever, but it is actually their best show ever.

Music and Variety was tougher to call. My heart said The Horne Section because it is such a playfully clever show, but my head smartly said The Boy With Tape on his Face. Best tour was tricky to work out with Tape Boy, Greg Davies and Mark Thomas all upping their game this year, but Stewart Lee (in the scandalous absence of Daniel Kitson) is pretty much Chortle's in-house stand-up and won it with Carpet Remnant World, which was brilliant but not his best show, or even his second best show. As I wrote earlier, he didn't win best DVD in his own right, but got to share it with Richard Herring for Fist of Fun 2. Richard Herring got Internet Award to himself for his Leicester Square Podcasts, but then he is basically Mr Internet these days when it comes to irreverent British lo-fi comedy/sketches/interviews.

TV Award for The Thick of It was understandable. I'd have given it to Fresh Meat, but I think maybe Chortle readers are still slightly resistant to the charms of Jack Whitehall. Radio Award to John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme was spot on. I've been predicting great things for Finnemore for more years than I care to remember. Maybe his rise finally starts here.

If there was a surprise of the night it was Louis CK beating Alternative Comedy Memorial Society to Award for Innovation. i'd have thought the back-to-anarchic-basics ACMS was more Chortle-flavoured but I guess CK had the following wind of his recent UK visit to boost interest in him. While he lost some good will by playing the O2 he regained it by delivering such a blistering show.

As for Lifetime Achievement Award, if they aren't going to give it to Steve Bennett himself for putting these awards together every year, then Galton and Simpson were a perfectly understandable option.

If the awards were predictable though, the same could not have been said for the presenters, who, apart from Harry Enfield, Omid Djalili and Caitlin Moran, who got one of the biggest cheers of the night, sounded more like a shortlist for a new reality TV series than a line-up of comedy groupies and included Helen Flanagan, Adamski, and Jeni Barnett. The best moments? When Pappy's techie James Lowey picked up their award in their absence and with immaculate but accidental timing promptly dropped it on the floor and cracked it. Or when Tony Law gave his award to Phil Nichol so that Nichol would have to look at Law's name every day. Weirdest thing was the strange whiff upstairs. I arrived slightly late. Did I miss something?

Actually the best moment of the event was host of the night Jo Brand's pained polite smile while Mick Miller delivered a stream of antique dodgy jokes the like of which haven't been heard since the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club in the 1970s. Miller, by the way, was giving out an award, not receiving one. Now if only he had been receiving one I would never have predicted that.

Here are the full nominations if you want to play guess the winner yourself. Or click here if you can't wait to find out the results. 

Best newcomer in association with ALCATEL ONE TOUCH:

Lucy Beaumont

Adam Hess

Sunil Patel

Tommy Rowson


Breakthrough act in association with Impressive PR:

Doctor Brown

Pat Cahill

Daniel Simonsen

David Trent


Club comic:

Susan Calman

Tony Law

Phil Nichol

Paul Sinha


Best compere:

Susan Calman

Jarred Christmas

 Joe Lycett

Jonathan Mayor


Character or sketch act:


Dr Brown

Brian Gittins

Marcel Lucont



Music and variety award:

Boy With Tape On His Face

The Horne Section

Loretta Maine

The Rubberbandits


Best show:

Susan Calman: This Lady's Not For Turning

Jim Jefferies: Fully Functional

Tony Law: Maximum Nonsense

Pappy's Last Show Ever


Best tour:

Boy With Tape On His Face: More Tape

Greg Davies: The Back Of My Mum's Head

Stewart Lee: Carpet Remnant World

Mark Thomas: Bravo Figaro


Best DVD:

Louis CK: Live At The Beacon (download) Fist Of Fun Series 2

Stewart Lee: Carpet Remnant World Glenn Wool: No Land's Man


TV award:

Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life and Open Books with Martin Bryce

Fresh Meat

The Thick Of It

Peep Show


Radio award:

Irish Micks And Legends

The Horne Section

John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme

The News Quiz

Internet award


Flatshare Slamdown

Peacock & Gamble's Edinburgh podcast

Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast

Stuart Goldsmith: The Comedians' Comedian Podcast


Award for innovation:

Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

Louis CK for cutting out the middle man

Weirdo's comedy club 


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