The winner of the Richard Pryor Award will now be decided by the legendary stand-up himself, with the result announced next week.
It has already courted some controversy, with black American comic Reginald D Hunter stating that he did not want to be considered because the idea of judging people based on their ethnicity was divisive, and would rather be judged on his own merit.
Judges had difficulty in finding enough eligible shows, too. Of around 400 shows, they deemed on 16 eligible.
Organisers said this merely demonstrated the need to highlight ethnic comedy. A spokesman said: “We only found 16 eligible acts. That' a mere four per cent. Compare this to an ethnic population of over 10 per cent and it's clear that the spotlight needs to be shone.
Pryor said he was excited to be presenting the award.
He said: ”They [the Fringe] have got to mix it up a bit. You are all too white over there! I like that this is opening things up a bit."
The judges who came up with the shortlist were Sunday Times critic Stephen Armstrong, BBC executive Lucy Lumsden and actress Mina Anwar.The winner should be the comic who “demonstrates the funniest, most innovative routine based on their personal experiences. They should endeavour to be progressive and original, prepared to tackle taboos, and to show fearlessness in their subject matter”.