Janey Godley wins inaugural Sir Billy Connolly Spirit of Glasgow Award

With just hours to go of the 2023 Glasgow International Comedy Festival, the inaugural Sir Billy Connolly Spirit of Glasgow Award was awarded to Janey Godley, just minutes after she closed the show at the official Closing Gala. 

The independent panel met on Wednesday 29th March to consider the nominations and passed their recommendations on to Sir Billy Connolly who made the final decision ahead of the announcement today. 

Sir Billy Connolly said about the award: “Glasgow defies description. Many great men and women have tried to describe its spirit and failed miserably. What do you say about a town that dances, sings, plays and jokes differently from everybody else? The winner of this Award will have to be a nutter like me…” 

The panel comprised of The Lord Provost, Jacqueline McLaren; Herald Editor Catherine Salmond; Broadcaster Janice Forsyth; STV’s Laura Boyd; Radio Presenter and Podcaster Aarti Joshi; Lost Glasgow’s Norry Wilson; Channel 4’s Laura Marks; and comedian/actors Sanjeev Kohli, Greg Hemphill, Elaine C Smith, and Karen Dunbar. 

The shortlisted nominees were Scott Agnew; Paul Black; Janey Godley; Craig Hill; Kieran Hodgson, and Susie McCabe. In addition to the six shortlisted nominees, the Judges always wanted to give special commendation to comedians Laura Quinn Goh, Krystal Evans and Chris Forbes, with particular reference to his fantastic work alongside Judy Murray. 

The Spirit of Glasgow award was defined by the following five criteria:

  1. Humour – a sense of humour and an ability to take the mick out of ourselves
  2. Resilience – being as warm as we are tough
  3. Openness – having good patter with everyone and anyone
  4. Unapologetic – proud yet unpretentious and uncompromising
  5. Depth – conflicting and nuanced, multi-layered and multi-dimensional

Sir Billy Connolly appeared on screen to announce the winner of the award, saying: “Hello, I am Billy Connolly and I am here to congratulate the winners of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival. Glasgow deserves to have a comedy festival – an international comedy festival. It’s the funniest town in the world bar none… and it deserves to be at the top of the league. 

“The winner of the award – the Billy Connolly Award believe it or not – is Janey Godley. A worthy winner. A worthy comedian. She’s been a pal of mine for about 5 or 6 years. We met in New Zealand when she was performing at a festival, and I took her to see my show – almost killing her on the way. I have a weird way of crossing the road. It took her a while to get used to it! She’s a great girl, a great comedian and an extraordinary life story to dwell on. I’m very proud to be part of the International Festival and I’m very proud that my drawing has been part of the trophy. It’s lovely.” 

The award, with the self-portrait of Sir Billy Connolly etched in glass, was then presented by Festival Director Krista MacDonald alongside Two Doors Down star and Judge, Elaine C Smith. 

Ahead of presenting the award, Festival Director Krista MacDonald said: “I don’t think anyone leaving the room today will disagree that Glasgow is the funniest city in the world…”

Accepting the award, Janey Godley said: “I can’t believe I’ve won this… If I couldn’t joke I wouldn’t be me. I have won an award from a man that I’ve admired since I was a child.” 

Holding up the award, she said “This is going to be my tombstone.” 


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