The last month hasn't been much of a laugh in London with most comedians on their annual pilgrimage to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
400 miles north, absurdist comedian Sam Simmons won the coveted Foster's main award for best comedy show, making it a double triumph following his Barry award win at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in his home country earlier in the year. In his winning show Spaghetti For Breakfast, Simmons invites the audience to tap into his surrealism a little more than usual, while simultaneously keeping his performance as crackers as we've grown to expect. Londoners can now see Simmons for themselves when he sidles into Soho Theatre later in the month.
The best newcomer award went to Sofie Hagen for Bubblewrap: a tale of adolescent obsession with boyband Westlife. True, not everyone is still paying back their parents phone bill after attempting to call pretty much everyone in Ireland to track the boys down, but there's plenty to empathise with in Bubblewrap. It's an honest portrait of the extreme emotions of youth and asks whether we ever really grow up. Hagen plays the Royal Albert Hall as part of the venue's first ever comedy season, and a longer run in another venue is expected to be announced shortly.
The awards are always interesting for those who miss out on the nomination short list, leading to a delicious amount of end-of-Fringe bitching around Edinburgh's Old Town and in the buffet queue on the train ride back to King's Cross.
This year the one that got away was undoubtedly Richard Gadd — perhaps the most talked about comedian from the very beginning of August. Once the lists were announced at the end of the month, a rumour persisted that Gadd had been snubbed by the Foster's panel due to the rather limited appearance he makes in his ensemble multimedia show. If this rumour is true it seems unfair, given the little we see of Gadd is rather tied to his premise — the title is Waiting for Gaddot after all. He did pick up the Amused Moose award for his efforts and many thought he might still win the final main award: the ambiguous Panel Prize. This prize is sometimes awarded to shows that cannot be pigeonholed but embody the 'spirit of the Fringe'. In the event, this year that went to the Gilded Balloon's founder Karen Koren as recognition of her 30 years there.
Gadd is also playing Soho Theatre next month, unless he leaves us waiting.
Sam Simmons: Spaghetti For Breakfast plays at Soho Theatre, 22 Septmember- 10 Octpber, 9pm, tickets from £15/12.50
Sofie Hagen plays The Royal Albert Hall, 11 September doors 9.30pm, tickets £13.24 including fees. Details of Bubblewrap's full run to be announced
Richard Gadd: Waiting For Gaddot plays at Soho Theatre, 27 October-7 November, 9.30pm, further details to be announced