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‘Smile’, the North West Comedy Awards 2005 are coming!

Published on September 15th 2005.


Wednesday 14th September, 6.30pm, the Piccadilly Hotel, Manchester, and the North West Smile Comedy Awards announced this year’s shortlist and the launch of the public voting category. The evening began with a swift half, and Tim, ‘I’m sick of all these poncy bars’ Gough, led us to a local, ahem, ‘establishment’ before heading off to the main event.

Despite it being only 5.30pm, a random drunk with very few teeth managed to spectacularly fall off his bar stool, spilling his pint everywhere and appearing to have actually passed out for a second. The post-work quiet drink crowd grew a little agitated, before said drunk got to his feet and laughed at his own skulduggery. Cunning. ‘You silly £$@%’, a friend told him. Was this a sign of things to come?

Well fortunately not. We headed to the launch party to be greeted by a gaggle of local press and a few celebs, including Phoenix Night’s Dave Spikey and several sprightly Hollyoaks’ boys, tucking into the complimentary canapés and drinks. Not bad these media gigs. We took our seats and were treated to a speech by our very own Mark Garner (‘Gardner’?!), aka Gordo. He proceeded to highlight the pandemonium, but overall success of last year’s inaugural black tie affair, which was attended by over 600 guests including Coronation Street cast members and comedy faves Johnny Vegas and Paddy McGuiness (see our online gallery for pics). He squeezed in a few plugs for Manchester Confidential and congratulated Lindsay on her handiwork, promising that this year won’t disappoint.

Next came an address from Christine Petyt, the Director of Operations at Smile. The leading internet bank and the headline sponsor for this year’s Manchester Comedy Festival, which runs from the 20th until the 31st October and takes place in over 30 venues throughout the city including pubs, clubs, theatres and public spaces. It’s a 12 day and night non-stop comedy fest, with shows by Joan Rivers, Patrick Kielty and Jimmy Carr, northern comedy giants Mick Ferry and Justin Moorhouse, as well as a plethora of new stand-up talent and debuting bands. The North West Comedy Awards, which happens on Friday 28th October 2005, will be one of the highlights of the festival. Although banking and bankers themselves have a reputation for being a tad dull, Christine told us, Smile is all about the ‘fun’ side of things (as ‘fun’ as banking matters can possibly be…), hence the name of the bank, and its aptness as a sponsor for a comedy festival:

‘It seemed only natural that Smile, the fun loving internet bank, based here in the North West, should sponsor both the Manchester Smile Comedy Festival and the North West Smile Comedy Awards. We are confident that both events will build on last year’s success and will leave everyone smiling.’

Christine handed over to the ‘gorgeous’ Howard Sharrock, who spoke on behalf of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, to which all proceeds from the event are donated. Founded following the pioneering work of Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins in the 1950s and 60s, the charity is grounded in the belief that everyone can respond to music, no matter how ill or disabled. It currently runs the largest independent music therapy centre in the UK located down in London, which helps over 750 children and adults weekly, and is hoping to establish its next centre in the North West. Black Nordoff-Robbins wristbands are available at HMV for a measly pound by the way, so get involved in the music loving.

Anyway, back to the party. Last year’s winner Alex Carter, who plays Lee Hunter in Hollyoaks, formally opened the public voting for the category of Best Comedic Performance in a Soap, and leading North West comedian Archie Kelly took the mike to, erm, take the mick out of Alex and give the audience a few laughs. A good (if, for some, slightly inebriated) night ensued, and this year’s highly anticipated, already sold-out event is looking promising. The evening’s host, Bradley Walsh, will oversee proceedings and aim to highlight the North West’s important position in terms of the national comedy scene. And rightly so, given the region’s output. Wouldn’t life be dull without the likes of Shameless, The Royle Family, and the institution that is Peter Kay? (My friends and I can no longer eat at Pizza Hut without cries of ‘Garlic? Bread?!’, nor consult a desert menu without the obligatory ‘cheese? Cake?’ It will get old…one of these days.)

There are a number of gongs up for grabs and winners will be decided by a panel of comedy doyennes: The infamous Don Ward, founder of The Comedy Store; Michelle Mullane, Gill Isles and Jon Montague from the Beeb; Mike Barnett from the MEN; and Marissa Burgess from CityLife and Manchester Online amongst others. The categories are as follows:

Best Breakthrough Act
Best Stand Up
Best Touring Comedy Show
Best Comedic Writing
Best Comedy Club
Best Comedy Content in a Radio Show
Best Comedic Performance in Soap - vote at Key103.com or by
clicking here.

Les Dawson Award for Services to Comedy, to be presented by Les’ widow, Tracy.

On the official website, the 2004 awards are described as featuring ‘the most swearing, debauchery, and drunkenness since God knows when’, so stay tuned for this year’s shenanigans. In the meantime, I’ll end on another of Christine’s pearls of wisdom. Heart-warming, I’m sure you’ll agree:

‘Laughter is a universal language, it’s free and has no side effects!’

Jemma McCann

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Anonymous

Depends on the arse.

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Anonymous

As usual mancon make no reference at all to the Irish Festival again .

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Double whammy of good markets too - Levenshulme have a food and drink only market on Saturday and…

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There are no excuses for arse-kissing.

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