Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy

The Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy is an annual award presented by The Society of London Theatre in recognition of achievements in commercial British theatre. The awards were established as the Society of West End Theatre Awards in 1976, and, renamed in 1984 in honour of English actor Lord Olivier.

The award was originally title Comedy of the Year until 1991, when it was renamed to Best Comedy. The award was later renamed again to the current title Best New Comedy in 1999.

Laurence Olivier Award
for Best New Comedy
Awarded forBest New Comedy
Location United Kingdom
Presented byThe Society of London Theatre
Currently held byLabour of Love (2018)

Winners and nominees


Year Play Writer
Donkeys' Years Michael Frayn
The Bed Before Yesterday Ben Travers
Confusions Alan Ayckbourn
Funny Peculiar Mike Stott
Privates on Parade Peter Nichols
Bedroom Farce Alan Ayckbourn
Once a Catholic Mary O'Malley
The Kingfisher William Douglas-Home
Filumena Eduardo De Filippo, Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall
Shut Your Eyes and Think of England John Chapman and Anthony Marriott
Ten Times Table Alan Ayckbourn
Middle-Age Spread Roger Hall
Clouds Michael Frayn
Outside Edge Richard Harris


Year Play Writer
Educating Rita Willy Russell
Born in the Gardens Peter Nichols
Make and Break Michael Frayn
Sisterly Feelings Alan Ayckbourn
Steaming Nell Dunn
Anyone for Denis? John Wells
Can't Pay? Won't Pay! Dario Fo
On the Razzle Tom Stoppard
Noises Off Michael Frayn
Key for Two John Chapman and Dave Freeman
Season's Greetings Alan Ayckbourn
Trafford Tanzi Claire Luckham
Daisy Pulls It Off Denise Deegan
Beethoven's Tenth Peter Ustinov
Run for Your Wife Ray Cooney
Woza Albert! Barney Simon, Percy Mtwa and Mbongeni Ngema
Up 'n' Under John Godber
Gymslip Vicar Cliff Hanger
Intimate Exchanges Alan Ayckbourn
Two into One Ray Cooney
A Chorus of Disapproval Alan Ayckbourn
Bouncers John Godber
Love's Labours Lost William Shakespeare
Pravda Howard Brenton and David Hare
When We Are Married J.B. Priestley
Lend Me a Tenor Ken Ludwig
The Merry Wives of Windsor William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream William Shakespeare
Three Men on a Horse John Cecil Holm and George Abbott
Groucho: A Life in Revue Arthur Marx and Robert Fisher
A Midsummer Night's Dream William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night William Shakespeare
Shirley Valentine Willy Russell
Henceforward... Alan Ayckbourn
Separation Tom Kempinski
The Common Pursuit Simon Gray
Single Spies Alan Bennett
Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell Keith Waterhouse
Some Americans Abroad Richard Nelson
Steel Magnolias Robert Harling


Year Play Writer
Out of Order Ray Cooney
Gasping Ben Elton
La Bête David Hirson
An Evening with Gary Lineker Arthur Smith and Chris England
It's Ralph Hugh Whitemore
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice Jim Cartwright
Lost in Yonkers Neil Simon
On the Piste John Godber
Hysteria Terry Johnson
April in Paris John Godber
The Life of Stuff Simon Donald
Time of My Life Alan Ayckbourn
My Night with Reg Kevin Elyot
Beautiful Thing Jonathan Harvey
Dead Funny Terry Johnson
Neville's Island Tim Firth
Mojo Jez Butterworth
Communicating Doors Alan Ayckbourn
Funny Money Ray Cooney
'Art' Yasmina Reza
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield
Laughter on the 23rd Floor Neil Simon
Popcorn Ben Elton
East is East Ayub Khan-Din
A Skull in Connemara Martin McDonagh
Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick Terry Johnson
Alarms and Excursions Michael Frayn
Love Upon the Throne Patrick Barlow, Martin Duncan and John Ramm
Things We Do for Love Alan Ayckbourn


Year Play Writer
The Memory of Water Shelagh Stephenson
Comic Potential Alan Ayckbourn
Quartet Ronald Harwood
Stones in His Pockets Marie Jones
Cooking with Elvis Lee Hall
House/Garden Alan Ayckbourn
Peggy for You Alan Plater
The Play What I Wrote Hamish McColl, Sean Foley and Eddie Braben
Boston Marriage David Mamet
Caught in the Net Ray Cooney
Feelgood Alistair Beaton
The Lieutenant of Inishmore Martin McDonagh
RolePlay Alan Ayckbourn
Dinner Moira Buffini
Lobby Hero Kenneth Lonergan
Heroes Gérald Sibleyras and Tom Stoppard
Glorious! Peter Quilter
Shoot the Crow Owen McCafferty
The 39 Steps Patrick Barlow, Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon
Don Juan in Soho Patrick Marber
Love Song John Kolvenbach
Rafta, Rafta... Bill Naughton and Ayub Khan-Din
Absurdia: The Crimson Hotel Michael Frayn
Elling Simon Bent
Whipping It Up Stephen Thompson
God of Carnage Yasmina Reza
Fat Pig Neil LaBute
The Female of the Species Joanna Murray-Smith


Year Play Writer
The Priory Michael Wynne
Calendar Girls Tim Firth
England People Very Nice Richard Bean
Parlour Song Jez Butterworth
Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense Robert Goodale and David Goodale
The Duck House Dan Patterson and Colin Swash
The Full Monty Simon Beaufoy
The Same Deep Water as Me Nick Payne
The Play That Goes Wrong Henry Shields, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Lewis
Handbagged Moira Buffini
Shakespeare in Love Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard and Lee Hall
Nell Gwynn Jessica Swale
A Christmas Carol Patrick Barlow
Hand to God Robert Askins
Peter Pan Goes Wrong Henry Shields, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Lewis
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour Lee Hall
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery Henry Shields, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Lewis
Nice Fish Mark Rylance and Louis Jenkins
The Truth Florian Zeller in a version by Christopher Hampton
Labour of Love James Graham
Dry Powder Sarah Burgess
Mischief Movie Night Mischief Theatre
The Miser Molière in an adaptation by Sean Foley and Phil Porter
Home, I'm Darling Laura Wade
Nine Night Natasha Gordon
Quiz James Graham

See also


  • London Theatre Guide (2008). "The Laurence Olivier Awards: Full List of Winners, 1976-2008" (.PDF). 1976-2008. The Society of London Theatre: 20. Retrieved 2008-08-30.

External links

Art (play)

'Art' is a French-language play by Yasmina Reza that premiered in 1994 at Comédie des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The play subsequently ran in London in 1996 and on Broadway in 1998.

David Hirson

David Hirson (born 1958) is an American dramatist, best known for his award-winning Broadway comedies, La Bête and Wrong Mountain.

David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers

David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers (born 14 May 1959) and (born 5 May 1969), are two West End and Broadway theatre producers.Pugh and Rogers first produced 'Art' by Yazmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton, starring Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott at the Wyndhams Theatre in the West End of London. It subsequently ran for eight years with twenty-six cast changes, winning the Evening Standard Theatre Award and The Olivier Award.Their production of 'Art' starring Alan Alda, Victor Garber and Alfred Molina opened on Broadway at the Royale Theatre, winning the Tony Award for Best Play.Their production of the jukebox musical "The Blues Brothers" played in London's West End for four separate seasons, toured throughout the world for fifteen years and was nominated for The Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.Pugh and Rogers also produced The Play What I Wrote by Hamish McColl and Sean Foley, directed by Kenneth Branagh at the Wyndham's Theatre, which won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. It opened at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.This was followed by Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Gérald Sibleyras' play Heroes starring Richard Griffiths, John Hurt and Ken Stott at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2005, which also won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.Pugh and Rogers then produced Equus in London's West End, which starred Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe and played a sell-out season at the Gielgud Theatre.

Their production of God of Carnage by Yazmina Reza, again translated by Christopher Hampton, which played at the Gielgud Theatre and starred Ralph Fiennes, Tamsin Greig, Janet McTeer and Ken Stott, also won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.In 2008 they originated and produced Kneehigh Theatre's production of Noël Coward's Brief Encounter, which played in an old cinema on the Haymarket in London and at Studio 54 on Broadway following a season at St Ann's Warehouse in New York.

The UK tour subsequently won the TMA Award for Best Touring Production 2009.God of Carnage opened on Broadway at the Jacobs Theatre in 2009 starring James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis, winning Pugh and Rogers another Tony Award. Subsequent casts included Lucy Liu and Jimmy Smits.

Pugh and Rogers' production of Calendar Girls by Tim Firth, opened in 2009 in London's West End and became the most successful UK touring play of all time, grossing over 35 million pounds and winning the Whatsonstage Theatre Award.Deathtrap by Ira Levin followed in 2010 at London's Noël Coward Theatre starring Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Groff and Claire Skinner, where it played for a five-month season.

On 2 February 2013, Pugh and Rogers' production of a new play adaptation of the film The Full Monty by its original writer, Simon Beaufoy, opened at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield to enormous critical success, and followed by a tour of the UK and Ireland which will continue through 2017 having won the UK Theatre Award for Best Touring Production The Full Monty will reopen in a new production in September 2018 again starring Gary Lucy and tour through into May 2019

Pugh & Rogers production of the musical The Girls by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth has just completed a six-month run in London's West End following sellout seasons in Leeds and Manchester where it won the Whatsonstage Award and will now tour the U.K. for two years from August 2018. The show received numerous five-star reviews during its run in London, Manchester and Leeds and received standing ovations night after night.

The Band musical by Tim Firth with the music of Take That opened in Manchester 2017 prior to a national tour and this production is now the fastest selling tour ever with an advance box office of over £15 million. The tour opened in September 2017 and runs until March 2019

In February 2018 Pugh & Rodgers will tour the Old Vic production of 'art' with Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson and revive their enormously successful production of Noël Cowards Brief Encounter adapted and directed by Emma Rice at the Empire Cinema in London’s West End

Fat Pig

Fat Pig is an American play by Neil LaBute. The play premiered Off-Broadway in 2004 and won the 2005 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play. The play had its London premiere in 2008 and was nominated for Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. The play involves a romantic relationship between a plus-size woman and a young professional man, whose friend denigrates the woman as being "fat".

Gérald Sibleyras

Gérald Sibleyras is a French dramatist and actor.

In the English-speaking world, Sibleyras is best known for Heroes, Tom Stoppard's 2005 translation into English of Sibleyras's 2003 play, Le vent des peupliers. Heroes won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2006.

Intimate Exchanges

Intimate Exchanges is a play by Alan Ayckbourn. Written between 1982 and 1983 it consists of eight major stories all originating from a single opening scene. As the play progresses, the characters make choices each of which causes the story to go in one of two directions, leading to one of 16 possible endings. The play was nominated for the 1984 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, and a 2006 revival was nominated for the 2008 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play on its transfer to the Brits Off Broadway festival in New York.

In 1993, six of the eight major variations were made into the two films Smoking/No Smoking directed by Alain Resnais.

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense

Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense is a play written by David and Robert Goodale based on the 1938 novel The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse. It made its world premiere at the Richmond Theatre in October 2013, then transferred later that month to the West End's Duke of York's Theatre. The production won the 2014 Laurence Olivier Award, for Best New Comedy.

Kenny Doughty

Kenny Doughty (born 27 March 1975) is an English actor and director.

Kenny Wax

Kenny Wax is a British theatrical producer of musicals, plays, concerts and family entertainment.

He is the producer of three Mischief Theatre productions, The Play That Goes Wrong currently playing at the Duchess Theatre in London and the Lyceum Theatre in New York, winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, and the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design in a Play, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery currently playing at the Criterion Theatre and Peter Pan Goes Wrong at the Apollo Theatre in 2015.

His production of Top Hat won three Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical from its seven nominations in 2013 and the Evening Standard Theatre Award for 'Best Night Out' in 2012. It played at the Aldwych Theatre in the West End before embarking on a UK tour.

His production of Once on This Island won Best New Musical at the 1995 Laurence Olivier Awards from its four nominations. His recent productions of Hetty Feather, Room on the Broom and The Tiger Who Came To Tea have also received nominations for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment. His production of Wonderful Town won the Manchester Evening News Award for Best Production 2014.

He was appointed President of the Society of London Theatre in June 2017. Earlier that year, he was named 16th in the Stage 100, the industry newspaper's list reflecting the 100 most influential people working in the theatre and performing arts industry as well as being shortlisted by the Stage as Producer of the Year.He also sits on the board of the League of Independent Producers.

Nice Fish

Nice Fish is a 2016 play by Mark Rylance, co-written with Louis Jenkins and adapted from poems by the latter. It received its world premiere production at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA in January 2016, and then transferred to St. Ann's Warehouse, New York, on 14 February 2016, running until 27 March. The production starred Rylance, and was directed by Claire van Kampen.The production transferred to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London's West End with an official opening night on 25 November 2016, following previews from 15 November. It played a limited run until 11 February 2017. The show received media attention when it was announced that four free tickets would be available at each performance to anyone who dressed up as a fisherman or fish. The play was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.An earlier version of the play opened in April 2013 at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is a play based on the 1998 novel The Sopranos by Alan Warner, adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. It received its world premiere at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in August 2015, before embarking on a short UK tour. The play is a co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre. The production ran at London's National Theatre in August 2016 and is scheduled to transfer to the West End's Duke of York's Theatre in May 2017.In April 2017, the production won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, for its run at the National Theatre.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a play by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields of the Mischief Theatre Company (creators of The Play That Goes Wrong). The premise, as in The Play That Goes Wrong, is that the actors and crews are members of the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society presenting their production of the J.M. Barrie classic Peter Pan, and ruin it through amateurism and personal rivalries.

Privates on Parade

Privates on Parade: A Play with Songs in Two Acts is a 1977 farce by English playwright Peter Nichols (book and lyrics), with music by Denis King.

Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine is a one-character play by Willy Russell. Taking the form of a monologue by a middle-aged, working class Liverpool housewife, it focuses on her life before and after a transforming holiday abroad.

Steaming (play)

Steaming is a 1981 play written by English playwright Nell Dunn first staged at Theatre Royal, Stratford, in London. It won the 1981 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy (at the time known as the Society of West End Theatre Award for Best New Comedy).

During 2010, Jally Entertainment toured Australia with the play, starring Val Lehman (Prisoner) and Alli Pope.

The Memory of Water

The Memory of Water is a comedy written by English playwright Shelagh Stephenson, first staged at Hampstead Theatre in 1996. It won the 2000 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

Three Men on a Horse

Three Men on a Horse is a play by George Abbott and John Cecil Holm. The comedy focuses on a man who discovers he has a talent for choosing the winning horse in a race as long as he never places a bet himself.

Up 'n' Under

Up 'n' Under is a comedy by English playwright John Godber, first staged at the Hull Truck Theatre in 1984. It won The Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy that same year. The sequel, Up 'n' Under II, followed in 1985.

Willy Russell

William Russell (born 23 August 1947) is an English dramatist, lyricist and composer. His best known works are Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, Blood Brothers and Our Day Out.

Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy

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