The shortlist has been announced for the top award at the Melbourne comedy festival – with female acts taking four of the six places.
Kristen Schaal, the New York comic who stars as the obsessive fan Mel in the Flight Of The Conchords TV series, is the other international nominee, while Australian acts Fiona O’Loughlin, Sammy J and Justin Hamilton make up the rest of the list.
Sammy J, who won the best newcomer Barry two years ago, is probably the most hotly-tipped for the prize for his show Forest of Dreams, which includes foul-mouthed puppets – a feature of Conti’s ventriloquism show, too.
Festival director Susan Provan said the shortlist was ‘the most eclectic we've ever had’.
The Barry award – named after Barry Humphries – will be presented on Saturday April 12, along with a series of other prizes for festival shows.
Last year's Barry was won by Daniel Kitson.