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First Victoria Wood comedy award given to comic posthumously

A comedian who died in a car crash months before he was due to perform at the Fringe has been honoured with the first ever Victoria Wood award at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Gareth Richards had been a fixture of the Fringe since 2010 and was due to perform another show at the festival this year.

But he tragically died in a car crash on his way home from a gig earlier this year.

Instead, friends Dan Ward and Mark Simmons put A Show For Gareth Richards on in his honour, with some of the biggest names in comedy volunteering to perform, including Frank Skinner, Stewart Lee and Dara O’Briain.

Audiences raised almost £20,000 for Richards’ family.

Ward said: “It feels really sensational to have won this award for Gareth.

“Victoria Wood was the queen of musical comedy, and Gareth was our legend.

“Gareth’s name will be forever associated with this award, and that just means everything.”

Meanwhile, Mumbai-born Urooj Ashfaq was named winner of the coveted Best Newcomer award.

Edinburgh Comedy Award
Urooj Ashfaq winner of the DLT Entertainment Best Newcomer at the 2023 Edinburgh Comedy Awards at the Dovecot Studios during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Jane Barlow/PA)

She told the PA news agency it was the most “wonderful experience”.

“It feels great, I’m really excited,” she said.

“I’m also a little stressed because I’m like: ‘Why have they given it to me?’

“I hope people come out and see people that maybe don’t look like them.

“I hope it has a positive impact in whatever way it can.”

Comedian Ahir Shah has been crowned as the winner of the Sky Best Comedy Show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Shah has been nominated for the accolade on two previous occasions in 2017 and 2018.

Edinburgh Comedy Award
Ahir Shah winner of the Sky Best Comedy Show at the 2023 Edinburgh Comedy Awards (Jane Barlow/PA)

He started his comedy career age 15 doing open mic nights. and is a frequent performer on BBC Two’s The Mash Report as well as Mock The Week and The News Quiz on Radio 4.

Judges said his act was “funny yet emotional”.

Nica Burns, director of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, said: “Congratulations to Ahir whose blending of his family’s personal story is funny yet emotional, political yet positive, clever and engaging, powerful and tender.

“His craft as a comedian is so extraordinary that he inspires both tears and laughter.”

The Victoria Wood Foundation said: “A Show For Gareth is an extraordinary initiative by his fellow friends and comics Mark Simmons and Danny Ward and embraced by the comedy community and audiences alike.

“Victoria would have been part of it had she been here. We are delighted that this is the first of the Victoria Wood Awards and combines her spirit with that of the Fringe.”

Donations can be made to Gareth Richards family via: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gareth-richards-comedian

The prize money for the Sky Best Comedy Show is £10,000, with £5,000 each for the DLT Entertainment Best Newcomer and the Victoria Wood Award winner.