Pryor award axed

Lack of sponsors blamed

The Richard Pryor award for the best ethnic comedian on the Edinburgh Fringe has been axed after just one year.

Organisers blamed the lack of a sponsor for dropping the award, which attracted controversy last year for ghettoising ethnic comedy.

But a spoesman said 'we firmly believe it will be back in 2006'.

Revolver Entertainment, which has released Pryor’s DVDs and recent book, put up last year’s £1,000 prize money – and attracted press coverage that they estimate to be worth £750,000.

But the company says it spend £50,000 setting up the award, and said they simply 'didn't have the budget' to go ahead this year. So when the attempt to attract sponsorship failed, they decided to axe it

The promise of the award, which was last year judged by Pryor himself and his wife Jennifer, has not attracted many ethnic acts to the fringe this year, which had been one of its aims.

Among the few comedians who would have been eligible are Omid Djalili, Shazia Mirza, Patrick Monahan, Ava Vidal, Matt Blaize, Paul Chowdhry and – ironically – Pryor’s daughter Rain. Only 16 acts were eligible last year.

Justin Marciano, managing director of Revolver Entertainment, said:‘We’re sorry to make the sad announcement that there will be no Richard Pryor Award for ethnic comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, after key sponsorship funds needed to finance the award fell through this week.’

“This is extremely disappointing for everyone concerned. Last year’s award was a great success, and both Richard and Jennifer Pryor and Revolver Entertainment put in a great deal of effort to make it work.

‘This does not necessarily spell the end of The Richard Pryor Award however -  if we cannot find replacement funding for this year we will certainly ensure it’s back next year.’

Reginald D Hunter last year attacked the award for which he was eligible last year, saying he did not want “to be given something because I’m black”.

Calvin Wynter, who produced the show from Egyptian-American comic Ahmed Ahmed that won last year, told the Sunday Times: ‘As an African-American producer, the Pryor award felt like a validation of our efforts in an essentially white festival. It’s sad that the award has been cancelled because there is now one less way for a comic to be validated.’

 

Published: 25 Jul 2005

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