Joe Lycett dedicated his special honour at the British National Comedy Awards to “the lawyers at Channel 4” who had protected him through his various high-profile campaigns.
The comedian, who was presented with the inaugural Comedy Game Changer award at the ceremony on Friday, gave a series of comical shoutouts as he accepted the accolade.
He thanked Hugo Boss, BBC chairman Richard Sharp, and former British prime minister Liz Truss, saying: “I couldn’t have done it without you girl.”
Lycett received the award for recognition of his work to inspire social change through comedy – and staged several media stunts to raise awareness.
These have included taking on energy giant Shell on greenwashing, and challenging David Beckham to relinquish his role as an ambassador at the World Cup in Qatar over LGBT+ rights.
For the latter, Lycett shredded £10,000 in a video posted online, although he eventually revealed the money had been fake and he had donated the sum to LGBT+ charities.
He was presented with the award by artist Grayson Perry, who praised his social justice work and described him as “always remarkable and brilliantly funny” as well as “a really nice bloke”.
Lycett later went on to win the fan-voted best stand-up show award, for Joe Lycett: More, More, More! How Do You Joe Lycett? How Do You Joe Lycett? – which was presented by Hugh Dennis.
Bafta winner Mo Gilligan received the Impact in Comedy Award in acknowledgement of his efforts to use his platform to shine a light on other black comics.
This included the curation of two sold-out nights of Mo Gilligan + Friends: The Black British Takeover at The O2.
Gilligan, who was not present at the ceremony, accepted the award with a video message in which he thanked all those that had been “part of my journey”.
“While everyone was kind of giving me my props, I wanted to kind of give them their props,” he said.
“To show this amazing scene that people didn’t even know existed – I mean, funny is funny. So thank you so much. I share this with all the people that have been part of my journey.”
Taskmaster fended off competition from The Graham Norton Show to take home for best entertainment show, and 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown beat Would I Lie To You?, QI and Mock The Week in the best comedy panel show category.
Accepting the award, team captain Jon Richardson paid tribute to the production crew for their work on the show, saying it was an “honour” to be a part of it.
“If you want to know how integral I am to the show, I’m not even in the f****** clip that they showed,” he quipped.
In the comedy podcast category, Shagged, Married, Annoyed with Chris and Rosie Ramsey took home the gong – while awards for outstanding comedy actress and actor went to Derry Girls star Saoirse-Monica Jackson and Ricky Gervais respectively.
Accepting his award via video message, Gervais said: “This must be particularly annoying for the other nominees because they were doing their best comedy acting, and I was playing a man who’s suicidal, depressed, abusive and often crying.
“So even when I’m not being funny, I’m still the funniest. Cheers.”
Gervais’ Afterlife co-star Diane Morgan later took home outstanding supporting role and the show went on to win the final award of the night, best scripted comedy, over Derry Girls and Ghosts.
Outstanding comedy entertainment performer – in male and female categories – went to Lee Mack and Katherine Ryan respectively.
The show also featured messages about the Stand Up To Cancer campaign from famous faces including actor Taron Egerton, Monty Python star Eric Idle, Aisling Bea and Nish Kumar.
Comedian Rhod Gilbert, who was himself diagnosed with cancer last year, also appeared in a video message to share his own experience of the disease.
The National Comedy Awards honours emerging and established British comedy talent, and were hosted by comedian Tom Allen at the Roundhouse in north London.