The nominee who wasn't nominated...

Comic blasts 'cruel' awards chiefs

An awards ceremony for the Brighton Fringe has been branded ‘cruel’ and ‘unprofessional’ after telling a comedian she’d been nominated for an award, when she hadn’t.

Sameena Zehra had been told her storytelling show Tea With Terrorists had been nominated for one of the Latest Festival Awards, which were handed out by city listings magazine Latest 7 last night.

However, despite making a trip to the ceremony with two guests, she was stunned to find that she was not on the shortlist at all.

And Zehra – who also complained about the shoddy production of the awards show – claims the same thing happened to other supposed nominees, too.

She told Chortle: ‘The awards seem to have been designed and executed by Heath Robinson...a boiling basement.... a copiously sweating host.. a microphone that alternately blared, crackled, and then turned itself off... award winners' speeches lit from the nipples down, though their heads were in total darkness.

‘Imagine my surprise when i sat through the whole evening only to learn I had not be nominated at all. And I wasn’t the only person to whom this happened; apparently several people had been told they had been nominated, only to find that they hadn’t.’

In an email of complaint to event organisers at Latest 7, she added: ‘It seems an incredibly unprofessional and slightly cruel thing to do.’

The magazine said the confusion arose because around five acts in each category made a ‘longlist’ of nominees on Friday, based on a public vote, which were whittled down by a panel of judges to three over the weekend, when they had the chance to see the final shows in the festival. But the invitation went out to all on the longlist, without explaining that they might not make the final three.

On the Latest 7’s website, each category lists two runners-up as the ‘top nominees’.

The Latest director Angi Mariani apologised to Zehra and told Chortle: ‘In retrospect we should have made this clearer; this is something we should look at for next year.’

And magazine editor Bill Smith, who was filming the event, said he found no problems with sound or light on the night,

Zehra, who is also an actress and a blues singer, said the ceremony marred what had otherwise been a ‘fabulous’ first experience with the Brighton Fringe, which she said was ‘well-organised and with helpful staff’.

Julian Caddy, managing director of the Fringe pointed out that anyone could run awards shows, and that if any such ceremony was badly-organised, ‘it mainly reflects badly on the people running it, rather than the Fringe.’

But he added: ‘It is a pity if it's found to have been badly run. ‘

In what might be seen as another strange decision, the Latest gave their award for innovation was given to theatre writer Brian Mitchell for the Brighton Five Pound Fringe.... which was so innovative it took its name and £5-a-ticket ethos from the FIve Pound Fringe set up by comedy promoter Lisa Keddie in 2010.

However, the new Five Pound Fringe l also claimed to be Britain's first "’brochure-less fringe’, run entirely through social media.

At the ceremony, the play Cock & Tail Inn: The 80s won the best comedy prize, mind reader Doug Seagal won the cabaret award for his show How To Read Minds And Influence People, and Canadian comic Mae Martin won the international prize.

Published: 29 May 2012

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