Dave's Edinburgh Comedy Awards

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Who Are We

While the winners of Dave's Edinburgh Comedy Awards are decided one fateful morning by nine judges in a room plus the chair, if a casting vote is needed. The preparations for that exciting announcement are going on year round.

Heading up the awards, and therefore responsible for the team of judges, scouts (often former judges) and administrators associated with them, is the awards director and producer Nica Burns who took over running the awards in 1984.

Nica Burns OBE is a multi-award winning producer of over 100 productions. She was Artistic Director at the Donmar Warehouse from 1983 to 1989 and Production Director of Stoll Moss and Really Useful Theatres from 1993 to 2005. She founded Nimax Theatres in 2005 with her business partner Max Weitzenhoffer and is Chief Executive and co-owner of the Palace, Lyric, Apollo, Garrick, Vaudeville and Duchess theatres. Nica was made a Fellow of University College London in 2007 and the following year she was elected President of the Society of London Theatre for three years and Vice President 2011-2013. She won Private Business Woman of the Year at the 2013 UK Private Business Awards and received an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II for services to theatre in the 2013 New Year's honours list. In 2021 she was awarded Producer of the Year by The Stage Newspaper in recognition of her tireless efforts to keep the theatre lights on and enabling work for so many during the Coronavirus pandemic. In 2022 the Critics Circle awarded her a commendation for Exceptional Theatre Making during lockdown, in particular for her ground-breaking Rising Stars Festival.

Nica has had a long involvement in the comedy industry: since 1984 she has been Director of the annual Dave's Edinburgh Comedy Awards, formerly the Perrier Awards. Working with her development partners Derwent London Ltd and Crossrail, she is currently building a fantastic, flexible new theatre in a wonderful location on Charing Cross Road.

Recent productions: In 2012 Long Day's Journey Into Night (Apollo, 2013 - Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival). In 2013: Sweet Bird of Youth (co-production Old Vic) Best Newcomer Evening Standard Awards, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (co-production with Chichester Festival Theatre at the Duchess) and The Duck House (Vaudeville). In 2014: Bakersfield Mist (Duchess). In 2015: Just Jim Dale (Vaudeville) and The Importance of Being Earnest with David Suchet (Vaudeville). In 2016: Hand to God with Janie Dee and Neil Pearson (Vaudeville), Nell Gwynn with Gemma Arterton (transfer from the Globe to the Apollo) which won Best New Comedy at the 2016 Laurence Olivier Awards, Terry Johnson's Dead Funny with Katherine Parkinson (Vaudeville) and James Graham's This House (Garrick). In 2017, the Menier Chocolate Factory transfer of Love in Idleness with Eve Best and Anthony Head (Apollo), The Mentor with F. Murray Abraham (Vaudeville) and the Sheffield Theatre production of the new musical by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae, Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Apollo) which won Best New Musical in the Whatsonstage Awards, toured the UK, had hit productions in Tokyo and Rome and was made into a successful film starring Max Harwood and Richard E. Grant. In 2018, Don Quixote (co-production with the RSC at the Garrick) starring David Threlfall and Rufus Hound and in 2019 The Worst Witch and Emilia at the Vaudeville which won three Olivier Awards and was also the first West End production to offer a mothers and babies performance during the run. In 2020 her production of City of Angels, directed by Josie Rourke and starring Hadley Fraser, Theo James, Rosalie Craig and Rebecca Trehearn was previewing at the Garrick before the theatres were closed for the Coronavirus pandemic.

Nica's six theatres were the only group of theatres to open - when legally able - during the pandemic. She is very proud of masterminding and producing with Laurence Miller, the innovative Rising Stars Festival in 2021 where 23 producers made their West End debuts with the support of her company. The season saw first time playwright Jack Holden's Cruise receive 5 star reviews and an Oliver Nomination for Best New Play alongside established writers including James Graham.

Rising Stars Festival

  • 6 months of work: 17 May to 17 October 2021
  • 23 producers making their West End debuts
  • 19 Productions
  • 206 performances
  • Ticket prices starting at £15
    • Average ticket price £34.64 over the season
  • Total tickets sold: 82,465
    • Additional reach and profit through on-demand streaming
  • 200 theatre staff rehired
  • Circa 275 freelancers were involved: performers, musicians, backstage staff, press reps, marketers, props, wardrobe, makers

Supporting Nica in her work on Dave's Edinburgh Comedy Awards are:

Emma Brünjes - Producer
Laurence Miller - Producer