Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival 2013: Awards honour comedians, promoters and venues
There were fits of laughter and smiles all round at an awards night celebrating the very best of Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival 2013.
Comedians who tickled funny bones over 17 side-splitting days in February joined volunteers, promoters and festival stalwarts to salute the efforts of those involved in making the 20th edition a success.
Compered by Australian comedian and festival veteran Mark Little, a total of nine awards were handed out on the night, ranging from best show to best venue.
The highlight for a packed audience gathered in the City Rooms, in the city centre, came with the announcement of the Legend of Comedy award.
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Following a poll of Mercury readers, it went to the late Sir Norman Wisdom, who was chosen from a list of 20 comedy greats to have graced the festival over the past two decades.
The funnyman's close friend and agent of more than 30 years, Johnny Mans, accepted the posthumous accolade from Mercury editor Richard Bettsworth.
"Norman was a great guy and one of my best friends," he said. "He was a man of the people and probably one of the most adored entertainers for the last 50 years.
"I know he was proud to be patron of the Leicester Comedy Festival after performing to a sell-out audience and receiving a standing ovation at De Montfort Hall.
"Norman would have been equally proud and thrilled to receive this award.
"And I know exactly what he would have said tonight, and it's: 'I'm just a lucky little devil, Mr Grimsdale!"
Former maths teacher Romesh Ranganathan picked up the prestigious gong for the best show of the festival for his gig at the Criterion pub, in Millstone Lane.
Commenting on his win, which comes fresh from him claiming the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year title, he said: "The audience was so nice and that spurred me on to take a few risks. I really enjoyed myself and am very honoured to pick up this award."
Comedian Rob Gee won the Make Me Happy award for his performance at Leicester Central Library, with Brett Goldstein scooping the best new show gong for his performance at the Belmont Hotel, in New Walk.
"I never believed comedians should be pitted against each other for awards – until now," said Brett. "Now I think it's important and right."
Speaking after the presentation, he added: "Us comedians are an insecure lot so it's really appreciated to get a pat on the back like this."
This year's festival saw more than 520 events held at over 50 venues, with dozens of organisations and hundreds of volunteers making it possible.
Festival sponsor De Montfort University received a lifetime contribution award, with its radio station, Demon FM, winning an award for its contribution to the festival for a series of podcasts recorded by students. Curve won the award for best promoter.
Simon Walsh, senior lecturer, said: "We are delighted. We had 16 students who worked so hard every day of the festival whether it was shooting video interviews, getting guests into the studio, recording audio podcasts. They did amazing work."
The Criterion was named best small venue, while Just the Tonic, in Granby Street, was named the best big venue.
Mark Little, who has returned to entertain crowds in Leicester year on year since the very start summed up his affection for the festival.
"I really love Leicester," he said. "It's no one-off, Johnny-come-lately festival, but is now a home from home for so many great comedians.
"Good on ya, Leicester!"
Founder and director Geoff Rowe said: "The support we get from people in Leicester and further afield is extraordinary. Tonight was an opportunity to thank all those involved for the work they do."