A comedian from Wormit has become the first Scot to win the biggest comedy award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for 30 years.
Cult comic Richard Gadd (26) scooped the Best Comedy Show 2016 title for his dark and deeply personal show ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’, which was inspired by a sexual assault he suffered four years ago.
Nica Burns, director of the awards – formerly sponsored by Perrier and now by Lastminute.com – described the show as a ‘highly original show which combines hilarity with heart.’
The award brings with it a £10,000 cash prize for the former Madras College pupil, who this week has been taking time out in Wormit with his parents Geoff, a professor at Dundee University, and Julia, who’s just retired as secretary at Balmerino Primary School.
In his show, Richard spends most of his time running on a treadmill before an image of a man in a gorilla suit – representing the ‘monkey’ he’s had on his back since his ordeal.
It was one of the most sought-after on the Fringe, with audiences queueing outside the venue – an underground cavern – for hours in advance to try to get a seat, and hundreds being turned away.
The show also explores mental health problems and Richard was close to tears as he collected his award at Edinburgh’s Dovecot Gallery.
He said afterwards: “The darkness I was in ... I cannot tell you how bad it felt.
“The worst thing my abuser did was take my confidence away from me.”
Richard told the Fife Herald that winning the award was ‘crazy’ as he has only been a full-time comedian since January, although he has been performing at the Fringe for three years..
“It is like the Oscar of comedy,” he said.
“I got very emotional when I did my speech as I was completely overwhelmed.
“I had been very nervous before the show and worried that it would be badly received because of the subject matter but it was quite the opposite and people really related to it.
“In that one moment of receiving the award it felt like a new beginning and I was emerging from a dark tunnel.
“I never had a game plan but suddenly a lot of offers are coming in and a lot of doors are opening.”
Richard has joined an illustrious roll call of comedians who shot to fame after winning the same award – people like Steve Coogan, Frank Skinner and the League of Gentlemen.
“I can’t afford to sit back and relax,” he said.
“I feel the weight of historic expectations and plan to work even harder.”
As well as comedy, Richard now plans to pursue other creative avenues such as writing plays and acting.