Why Russell Brand Should Hand His Awards Back

At the British Comedy Awards, Russell Brand was controversially presented with the Outstanding Contribution to British Comedy gong. But did he really deserve it, and if not who should have won?
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Some would say Russell Brand’s victory was nothing more than a cynical ploy by Channel 4 to get him on stage with Jonathan Ross, creating publicity for the event’s inaugural year on the station.

Some – or perhaps many – consider Brand to be talentless, just another symptom of celebrity culture along with Kerry Katona and Jordan.

However a quick glance at Youtube would reveal that before the narcissism, name-dropping and tedious verbatim regurgitation of well trodden tabloid scandals, he was actually a very accomplished stand-up, demonstrating a much greater level of self-awareness and self-abasement than many would give him credit for. This is more or less his only contribution to British comedy. His other work would fit into the categories of presenting and acting, although that’s a rather grandiose term walking and talking.

So which comic working today would have been more deserving? Ricky Gervais? Unfortunately he retired from comedy writing shortly before The Invention of Lying; James Corden? He’s certainly contributed, very little of it outstanding though; Robert Webb? He tries his best after all.

How about Jimmy Carr, Simon Pegg or Bill Bailey? The answer is none of these people. There are a number of people working today whose contribution to comedy has been immeasurable, yet never get the recognition they deserve.

Here are just a few:

First nomination goes to Kevin Eldon. He’s the nation’s casting directors go-to guy for pretty much anything. He’s never been in Peep Show or The Office, but that’s about it. After starting out as a stand-up in the early nineties and an early appearance in Alan Partridge, he made his first proper foray into the viewing public’s consciousness on Fist Of Fun, where he played both the citrus cordial quaffing hobby fascist Simon Quinlank and the prosthesis wearing jelly lover Rod Hull.

Since then he has gone on to appear in nearly every television comedy you can think of – Partridge again, Spaced, Black Books, Brass Eye, Green Wing, Nathan Barley, The IT Crowd – the list goes on and on. He also appeared in the films Four Lions and Hot Fuzz, and has recently gone back to performing as a stand-up.

All of these people have made a much more outstanding contribution to British comedy than Russell Brand, and it’s about time they were rewarded.

Next up – Martin Trenaman. He’s best known as Simon’s dad in The Inbetweeners and has recently been starring in new comedy Phoneshop,although that shouldn’t be held against him. He’s also appeared in Spaced, The Mighty Boosh, Saxondale and many more. However, it’s as a writer that he’s had most input, contributing material to people such as Lee Evans, Lenny Henry and Bill Bailey.

With Sean Lock, he co-wrote and appeared in the excellent yet criminally underrated 15 Storeys High and recently co-wrote the well received spoof Trinny and Susannah: What they did next. He is also responsible for putting funny words in the mouths of many a presenter and guest host, which leads nicely into...

Kevin Day. There’s a chance you might recognise him from Match of the Day 2 or as a talking heads from I Love The 90s etc, but you will almost certainly have laughed at one of his jokes. Along with Martin Trenaman, Kevin Day has been responsible for writing the links and gags for programmes such as Have I Got News For You, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Argumental, The Graham Norton Show, James Corden’s World Cup Live and Channel 4’s Comedy Roasts.

They are often the funniest part of these shows, but go virtually uncredited.

Finally and perhaps most recognisably, Stewart Lee. Whilst after a quarter of a century in the business he is finally getting the recognition he deserves as one of the country’s finest stand-ups, his work behind the scenes is less well documented. In the early nineties, along with Richard Herring, he wrote for Radio 4 series On The Hour, which spawned the television series The Day Today. It also gave the world Alan Partridge, who they wrote much of the early radio material for. He also directed early work by The Mighty Boosh, which would become the basis of much of their work and the acclaimed Jerry Springer: The Opera.

So there you have it. All of these people have made a much more outstanding contribution to British comedy than Russell Brand, and it’s about time they were rewarded.

If he had any honour, he would return his trophy.

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