In the first time for 12 years since the beginning of the Chortle Comedy Awards in 2002, a sketch group has won the Best Newcomer award.
There was a resounding cheer as Gein’s Family Giftshop ascended to take the Best Newcomer award at the Chortle Comedy Awards on Monday after only recently being discovered at the 2014 London Sketch Comedy Festival.
In all of the awards history, there has never been a sketch group voted as Best Newcomer, plenty of stand-up comedians and even a character comedian but this marks the first time a sketch group has won the award.
Since launching the London Sketch Comedy Festival in 2013, we’ve worked tirelessly to support and discover new British sketch comedy talent and more so to repair the reputation of sketch comedy, which had been flogged about in all manner of ways.
The artform which had suffered a malaise with industry and critics was on the wane a few years back, having been pushed out of comedy clubs and theatres. It lived in pub rooms, stood sheepishly at new material bills and threw itself into the wind in Edinburgh. It made it very difficult for anybody to really jump out and for that there’s plenty of sketch groups that remain lost and forgotten.
Determined not to miss out on the next Monty Python, League of Gentlemen or [hitherto unknown future name] we decided to create a platform that would highlight Britain’s unsung alternative comedy heroes in an era saturated with stand-up comedy.
As a festival we set ourselves the challenge to go out to find great new talent rather than book a hundred different acts, selecting a strong group of comedians each year to show audiences and industry just how good the alternative comedy scene is.
With Gein’s Family Giftshop’s win at the Chortle Awards, we finally see that the hard work has paid off – sketch comedy is officially popular again. And with it the chance for a whole new breed of comedian to come around.
We don our hats to everyone involved in their journey, as a new moon rises on the British comedy scene. For there’s plenty of hope when an inconspicuous foursome from Manchester can be voted the nation’s favourite new act by one of most prestigious and respectable comedy awards around.
And so onward and upward, as the festival that bought you the most exciting new sketch act in 12 years returns again with another selection of new and emerging comedy groups, all set to show off their talents.
The London Sketch Comedy Festival returns May 1-3 in Elephant & Castle.
Image: Gein's Family Giftshop photo by Drew Forsyth