Susie McCabe is the winner of the second Sir Billy Connolly Spirit of Glasgow Award announced at Glasgow International Comedy Festival’s (GICF) Comedy Gala, following an afternoon celebrating the very best of the festival at the city’s King’s Theatre. The award honours criteria both the city of Glasgow and Sir Billy Connolly represent from resilience to openness and of course, a sense of humour. 

Sir Billy Connolly himself sent a personalised message to Susie McCabe as winner of the award in his name, via a video message from his home in Florida saying: “Congratulations Susie – I’m sorry I can’t be in Glasgow, it’s for a million reasons.”

Addressing Susie McCabe directly, Sir Billy Connolly said, “I watched you on TV and I was blown sideways. It’s been lovely watching your style, that Glasgow style of comedy – it’s brilliant, I loved it. You’re brilliant so keep it up!” 

Susie McCabe accepted the award onstage in the closing minutes of the Comedy Gala, saying: “When you start this career as a dare you don’t think for a minute you’re going to hear your name come out of Billy Connolly’s face!

“Lots of people talk about Edinburgh and its festivals in comedy – it’s never been about Edinburgh for me, Edinburgh is a byproduct of this festival for me. This festival has 100% backed me and it’s done that because you, the audiences, have come out and let me play this theatre three times. 

“Thank you to Glasgow for being the wind in my sails. When you stand on this stage you stand on the shoulders of Billy, Elaine, Dorothy Paul and Janey.

This means the absolute world to me – this city means the absolute world to me.”

Festival Director Krista MacDonald, GICF headliner Elaine C Smith and 2023’s winner Janey Godley presented Susie McCabe with the glass trophy, which is engraved with a famous self-portrait of Sir Billy Connolly, shortly after Janey Godley closed the Comedy Gala with a hilarious performance at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre.

Festival Director Krista MacDonald said: “Susie McCabe is one of Scotland’s most exceptional comedy exports, having entertained audiences in her hometown and beyond for over15 years. From her very first show with GICF in 2013 in a 60-seater in Dram to three mammoth shows in the King’s Theatre this year, Susie epitomises everything good about Glasgow and its comedy scene; she has generosity of spirit in spades and is unapologetic in her comedy, but manages to still be warm, inclusive, hard-working, gallus and to her very core, funny. 

“Sir Billy Connolly has helped both audiences and comics find joy and laughter even when times are bleak, representing the very best of comedy itself and the very best of this city- so we are so honoured to have the Big Yin himself involved in the Festival in this way.

“A truly worthy winner of our second ever Sir Billy Connolly Spirit of Glasgow Award, the GICF team sends our biggest congratulations to Susie. “

Elaine C Smith said: “When Billy came on the scene there was nobody like him – he blew the doors wide open for everybody and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for what he has done.”

Susie McCabe is one of the country’s most beloved comics, with recent appearances on ‘Live at the Apollo’ and a support slot with Kevin Bridges, alongside three King’s Theatre shows at GICF this year showcasing her brilliant storytelling and killer punchlines. 

Previously announcing Janey Godley as the inaugural winner in March 2023, Sir Billy Connolly said: “Glasgow deserves to have an international comedy festival – it’s the funniest town in the world, bar none. The standard is colossal and I’m always amazed when I see TV or live comedy from Glasgow. 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.” 

A panel of esteemed judges met to consider the six-strong Shortlist before sending a recommendation to Sir Billy Connolly, who made the final decision on the ultimate winner. 2024’s Shortlist included: Craig Hill, Raymond Mearns, Rosco McClelland, Susan Riddell, Susie McCabe and Zara Gladman, all six of whom appeared at the Comedy Gala to celebrate GICF’s biggest year yet. 

Hosted by Susie McCabe, one of this year’s Festival headliners with three shows at the King’s Theatre, the Gala presented the very best of the fest, with sets from some of Scotland’s most beloved comics including Craig Hill, Raymond Mearns and Janey Godley, alongside Jin-Hao Li, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Zara Gladman, Susan Riddell, Stuart McPherson, Rosco McClelland and Billy Kirkwood. The Sir Billy Connolly Spirit of Glasgow Award was presented as part of the Gala’s finale, with Susie McCabe making an emotional speech onstage following a standing ovation.

Introduced in 2023, the prestigious award in honour of Sir Billy Connolly looks to reward an individual who most personifies the Spirit of Glasgow. Celebrating the city and its Glaswegian warmth, resilience and humour which is renowned around the world the award examines criteria which both Glasgow and Sir Billy Connolly represent including: 

  1. Resilience – warm but tough
  2. Open – accessible for all
  3. Unapologetic – proud and unpretentious; curious and challenging; mould-breaking
  4. Gallus – bold and brave; self-starting
  5. Funny – above all else, an ability to make people laugh

2024’s Sir Billy Connolly Spirit of Glasgow Award judging panel was: Aarti Joshi (Go Radio), Catherine Salmond (Editor, The Herald), Cassi Gillespie (Clyde 1), Glasgow’s Lord Provost Jacqueline McLaren, Janey Godley (Comedian), Jonathan Watson (Comedian) Laura Boyd (STV News), Laura Marks (Channel 4), Norry Wilson (Lost Glasgow) Sharon Rooney (Actress), Tony Curran (Actor). The panel reviewed applications from GICF acts, venues and promoters to curate a Shortlist, before making a recommendation to Sir Billy Connolly himself to ultimately choose the final winner.

GICF is set to finish on a high with shows on Easter Sunday including Some Laugh Live featuring special guests Greg Hemphill, Raymond Mearns and more, plus shows from Vladimir McTavishSusan Riddell, Liam Farrelly, Brian Mooney and more. 

With the Comedy Gala taking place during GICF’s final weekend, the event has seen thousands of comedy fans enjoy performances from some of the world’s most successful comedians from Frankie Boyle to Frank Skinner, Elaine C Smith and Susie McCabe, plus rising stars and a variety of shows including musical comedy, clowning, live podcasts and traditional stand-up. 2024 marks GICF’s 21st birthday as well as the festival’s biggest ever year as the city hosted over 560 shows in over 50 venues. 


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