Awards are show business, mining a deep human need or peer approval. Formed and shaped for proﬁt by producers. Staged and fronted by directors nurturing sector nabobs. Marketed and sold with ‘your rivals are on board’ whispers to sponsors. Judging is a pleasant aﬀair: everyone knows everyone; the piles of submissions are ﬂicked through and decisions made, based on written rules and unwritten understandings. The shortlisted are then cajoled to buy tables with ‘wise to come’ calls.
House builders give prizes for good design, honestly. Accountants give awards for those who can count. There are even awards for those who organise awards: on 12 June the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) will hold its annual beano at Grosvenor House. Price: £2,400 for a table of ten. Even those in real showbiz love business awards, earning anything from £5,000 to £50,000 for one night’s ‘corporate’ work. Comedian Dara Ó Briain is your man for this year’s AEO awards.
Everyone loves an awards show. Only awards nights can pull rival tribes and potential clients under one roof, drawing them together to feed oﬀ more than côte de boeuf. Darker desires are sated – rejoicing at a rival’s failure, scorning their success, exulting in your own. Then comes the bonus: post-ceremony back-slapping. Snagging the hard-to-pin-down, with the aim of turning show business into real business. Awards work for all the actors, on stage and oﬀ, and for the audience.
They work for the winners and the losers too. The latter justify defeat by grouching the judging was rigged. But they tend to come back, year after year. The former plaster their marketing with trophies, knowing perfectly well it’s all a bit of a lottery. The producer (that’s the publisher, presuming the awards are run by a business mag, as they often are) banks a six-ﬁgure proﬁt for one night’s work and plans how to make more the following year. The director and co-presenter (often the magazine’s editor) introduces the co-presenting comic, then steps down to the top table and suggests lunch to those nabobs with loose tongues.