Coronavirus Impact: UK Comedy Women in Print Prize Announces Digital Ceremony

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The UK’s two-year-old awards program, the Comedy Women in Print Prize, switches to a digital event for its awards in September.

In an August 15 shot, London’s Marylebone Station uses one-way traffic patterns and other measures to try to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Image – iStockphoto: TJS

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Online on September 14
Half a year into the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, many people still seem at pains to talk about doing digital rather than live events as if it’s something frightening and unheard-of. The two major political parties in the United States are running their conventions this week, for example, talking of being without balloon drops as if no one had ever heard of the virus or seen bedroom broadcasting at work in their conference calls.

In publishing, in fact, the only surprise in recent weeks has been the Hay Festival Segovia announcement on June 25 that that show is actually to have a physical outing next month, albeit with only one-third capacity in its venues. And as the Spanish government orders curfews on nightclubs, bars, and restaurants–and curbs on smoking and vaping–it seems unclear that Segovia can go forward as planned, although no change as yet has been announced.

In the UK today (August 17), the UK’s  Comedy Women in Print Prize has surprised no one by announcing that its September 14 winners’ celebration will be an online affair rather than being set at the Groucho Club in London.

This is the program established at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2018 by Helen Lederer, the actress (Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, 2016) whose 2016 book Losing It: In Debt, Divorced, and Desperate is from Pan Macmillan. Lederer had detected a lack of support and visibility for female comedy writing.

In its media messaging today, the program says that in the 7 p.m. BST event on the 14th of September (1800 GMT), winners are to be announced in each of the program’s three categories:

  • Published Comic Novel
  • Unpublished Comic Novel
  • Humorous Graphic Novel

There’s also to be an honorary award for a Witty Woman of the Year.

Guest appearances are to include 2019 Comedy Women in Print Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jilly Cooper, as well as Maureen Lipman, Emma Kennedy, and the lead juror, Marian Keyes.

In an optimistic move, the program says it expects to have “a belated in-person celebration at the Groucho Club on January 25.”

Helen Lederer

In a prepared statement, Lederer is quoted, talking of “a high-tech digital extravaganza. We have so many exciting witty women to celebrate. Last year was very glam and we had to turn people away, This year we have inclusive, global partying for everyone online. Win-win.”

As Elliot Smith reported for CNBC on Friday (August 14), European markets closed lower after the UK imposed a new 14-day quarantine period on all arrivals from France, starting Saturday (August 15).

In its 7:27 a.m. ET update (1127 GMT), the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center cites the UK as 12th in the world for caseloads, with 320,345 infections confirmed. The market stands fifth in the world for deaths, with 46,791 fatalities in a population of 67 million.

Comedy Women in Print 2020 Shortlists

Coronavirus spread mitigation signs at London’s Paddington Station, August 13. Image – iStockphoto: TJS

Published Comic Novel

  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Trapeze)
  • Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen (John Murray)
  • The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa (Bloomsbury)
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (Quercus)
  • Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe (Penguin Random House)
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (Headline)
  • Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson CBE (Jonathan Cape)

Unpublished Comic Novel

  • The Bird in the River by Zahra Barri
  • Tinker, Tailor, Schoolmum, Spy by Faye Brann
  • Everything Is Under Control by Annette Gordon
  • The Lady’s Companion by Janey Preger
  • You Can Drop Me Here by Julia Walter
  • Second Wife Syndrome by Kathleen Whyman

Published Humorous Graphic Novel

  • Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide: A Graphic Guide to Lesbian and Queer History, 1950-2020 by Kate Charlesworth (Myriad Editions)
  • My Husband is a Cultist by Mei Lian Hoe (Self-published)
  • Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern (Simon & Schuster)
  • Was it… Too Much for You? by Danny Noble (Self-published)
  • Cassandra Darke by Posy Simmonds (Jonathan Cape)
  • Stand in Your Power by Rachael Smith (Self-published)

More from Publishing Perspectives on the world industry’s many publishing and literature awards is here and more from us on women in publishing is hereMore from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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