Mo Gilligan was awarded the prestigious Impact in Comedy Award at the 2023 National Comedy Awards, hosted by Tom Allen at the Roundhouse.
The comedian was recognised for his efforts to use his platform to shine a light on other brilliant Black comics, including his curation of two sold-out nights of Mo Gilligan + Friends: The Black British Takeover at The O2.
In his acceptance speech, Mo thanked Channel 4 for his teeth, and paid tribute to the Black comedy circuit, citing Richard Blackwood and Babatunde Aleshe as inspiring figures.
During his earlier VT, he explained that there wasn’t a ‘glass ceiling’ when he started out in comedy, but rather a ‘concrete ceiling’ which prevented Black talent from being celebrated.
‘This means so much to me in so many ways,’ he began after receiving the trophy.
‘When I started my comedy journey, I was this young boy from south London – didn’t have these teeth, I’ll tell you that for free, boy! Thank you Channel 4 for that!’, Mo laughed.
‘But on a real, when I started comedy, my journey was very different to a lot of other people’s. I’d often meet a lot of comics and they’d say, “You a comic on the Black circuit? I’d love to try that.”
‘But bro, this isn’t a buffet. This isn’t a quiche, or some chicken wings on the side for you to just try. This is a real scene, with real people. Realising that, the scene that I come from, the skills that I’ve got, and the people that I’ve had around me to watch and learn from…’ he continued, name-checking the likes of Richard Blackwood and Babatunde Aleshe.
‘The list is endless. There are so many people that I’ve been on the circuit with and then you’ve got this cool, new generation.’
He added: ‘So, while everyone was giving me my props, I wanted to give them their props. That was why I started doing things like the documentary, Black, British and Funny, or shows at the O2 to show this amazing scene that some people didn’t even know existed. Do you know what I mean? Funny is funny.’
‘I share this with all the people that have been part of my journey,’ Mo concluded, thanking his friends and family.
Other big winners of the night were Joe Lycett, who received a special award for being a ‘game changer’.
Lycett was honoured for his campaigns against white plastic and confronting Shell on greenwashing, as well as his work to highlight inequalities faced by the LGTBQ+ community and challenging David Beckham to relinquish his role as an ambassador for 2022’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar. His tour - Joe Lycett: More, More, More! How Do You Joe Lycett? How Do You Joe Lycett? - also won best stand-up show, thanks to a Twitter vote.