Acclaimed American comic Burnham – who is also on the shortlist for the main Edinburgh Comedy Awards announced later today – was named the ‘act most likely to win a million quid’ in the Malcolm Hardee awards.
After he was shortlisted for the accolade, named in honour of the late ’godfather of alternative comedy’, Burnham’s London publicists wrote to award organisers saying ‘making money is not what he’s driven by at all and [we] don’t think he’d be at all comfortable with receiving this award’.
But Burnham said he had not known of that response and added: ‘I am a very big fan of Malcolm Hardee. In America, I’ve worshipped Andy Kaufman and had found Malcolm in trying to research other anti-comics. For you guys to nominate me for that award, and then take the piss out of me when my someone said that I don't do this, my job, for money, is honestly, an absolute honour Yes. I care about money but I do kind of hate myself for it.’
Award organisers also gave Robert White the accolade for comic originality for his ‘enthusiastic unconventionality’ and for being, in his own words, ‘the only gay, Asperger’s, quarter Welsh, webbed-toed, dyslexic pianist debuting this Fringe’.
Finally, Stewart Lee won the Cunning Stunt award for generating publicity after complaining about the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award, almost accidentally, promoting Japanese act Frank Chickens. As a result, they performed at the Fringe for the first time in 25 years, at a show publicising Lee's new book.
Yesterday also saw festival veteran Mervyn Stutter announce his Spirit Of The Fringe awards, which he has handed out every year since 1992, reflecting his personal favourites. The comedy winners were Arthur Smith, Sarah Louise Young, Henning Wehn and Tom Adams.