Brookes has won the biggest prize in live comedy, with Catherine Cohen named best newcomer and Jessica Brough recognised for her Fringe of Colour project
The Edinburgh Comedy award has found itself another deserving winner in Jordan Brookes, who has bagged the biggest prize in comedy – now sponsored by the TV channel Dave – for his show I’ve Got Nothing. Long the darling of comedians and critics (despite his terrifying habit of singling the latter out in his audiences), now he’ll get the chance to see whether his brand of faintly threatening experimentalism can amuse a wider audience. Had the awards organisers sought another household name to join the pantheon of Coogans and Skinners of yesteryear, Brookes would not have been their choice. But he’s undeniably a fascinating talent, a gripping stage presence and a disturbingly funny man.
Visibly surprised by his win, Brookes took the stage after the winner of the panel prize, Fringe of Colour founder Jessica Brough, had spoken at length about the need for more diversity in comedy. This year’s shortlists included the first two black British women ever nominated for the two awards (best newcomer and best show), one of whom – London Hughes – is clearly zeroing in on stardom, and who was among the favourites for the gong. But if Brookes’ win doesn’t look like a victory for diversity, neither is it one for conformity. He’s an experimentalist, doing odd things with comedy, making people laugh in unexpected ways – and his win honours the ex-Perrier award’s occasional tradition of honouring eye-catching oddballs (Will Adamsdale, Tim Key, Dr Brown, Sam Simmons) over Live at the Apollo-esque standup. I’m delighted that he’s won – and even more so that New York musical comic Catherine Cohen (a glaring omission from the main list) secured the newcomer prize.