South Asian Comedians triumph at Edinburgh Comedy Awards

Both Ahir Shah and Urooj Ashfaq Dingankar won the best prizes at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, making history for South Asian comedians.

South Asian Comedians triumph at Edinburgh Comedy Awards

"She’s never experienced a UK audience before"

Ahir Shah and Urooj Ashfaq took home prizes at the 2023 Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

Shah secured the top show accolade for Ends, making history by being the first British Asian to do so.

When receiving his award, he offered his respects to the late comedy director Adam Brace.

In his acceptance speech, he also comically mentioned:

“F*ck me, we got No 10, best newcomer and now this – Rishi boy is really delivering for the community.”

Speaking on Ends, Shah said: 

“I was trying to look at social progress across generations and 60 years since my maternal grandfather came to this country, the first member of my family to come to the UK, in 1964.

“I wanted to look at the current inhabitant of No 10 Downing Street and how that shift happened over the last 60 years.

“Society doesn’t have a finishing line, and all of these things are incremental and progressive.

“But we are moving to a point where we’re all the same.

“My grandfather died in 2002 without seeing where we are today, but I feel optimistic my children will see a better society in their time.”

South Asian Comedians triumph at Edinburgh Comedy Awards

Indian comedian Urooj Ashfaq secured the title of best newcomer, resulting in both performance accolades being awarded to South Asian comedians.

The best show winner takes home £10,000, while the best newcomer and panel prize winners each receive £5,000.

Ashfaq shared the news on her Instagram, with the caption: 

“AAAHHH! I WON Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. (I can now have official leaves in my posters)…

“…I am so happy to have gone to the fringe and had the experience I had and been around the people I had the privilege of being around.”

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, commonly referred to as the Edinburgh Fringe, is the world’s largest arts festival held annually in Edinburgh, Scotland.

It is renowned for its open-access and unjuried nature, allowing a diverse range of artists to present their work, including theater, comedy, music, dance, spoken word, and more. 

While it encompasses a wide array of genres, the Edinburgh Fringe is particularly well-known for its comedy shows.

Many renowned comedians, such as Rowan Atkinson, Eddie Izzard, and Stephen Fry, started their careers at the Fringe.

South Asian Comedians triumph at Edinburgh Comedy Awards

Awards director Nica Burns reflected on this year’s winners, stating:

“Two outstanding shortlists, fielding so much talent, led to very intense lively judging debates.

“It was nail-biting to the final votes. All our shortlisted comedians will be an important part of the comedy scene for years to come.

“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. It’s the most wonderful experience.

“Urooj’s arrival in the UK is a breathtaking success story.

“Working in her second language she’s never experienced a UK audience before.

“Her ability to engage us immediately demonstrated her natural instinct as a comedian.”

“She is a delightful personality who makes you smile even before she tells you the joke that will make you laugh.

“Bringing a fresh, new voice to our comedy scene she has a very exciting future.”

Sky Studios producer Adnan Ahmed also added his perspective: 

“This year’s incredible nominees prove how vibrant the Edinburgh comedy scene is; we were wowed by the quality of all the shows.

“In such a strong year, it felt impossible to choose just one, but Ahir is a worthy winner and he has delivered a truly superb show.”

Balraj is a spirited Creative Writing MA graduate. He loves open discussions and his passions are fitness, music, fashion, and poetry. One of his favourite quotes is “One day or day one. You decide.”

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