The shortlist has been unveiled for the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards – with two women up for the main award for the first time.
Nominated for the main award are Bo Burnham: Words, Words, Words; Greg Davies: Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog; Josie Long: Be Honourable; Russell Kane: Smokescreens and Castles; Sarah Millican: Chatterbox
The shortlist for best newcomer is: An Audience with Imran Yusuf; Asher Treleaven: Secret Door; Gareth Richards: Stand Up Between Songs; Late Night Gimp Fight!; Roisin Conaty: Hero, Warrior, Fireman, Liar; The Boy With Tape on His Face
The inclusion of Late Night Gimp Fight! might prove to be controversial, as they had a show every night of the fringe last year.
Eligibility rules say newcomers must be performing their first full show – defined as 50 minutes or more. According to a press release at the time, last year’s show at the Pleasance Hut ran for 50 minutes from 11pm. Although the Edinburgh Comedy Festival programme showed it as a 45-minute shows.
However, producer Steve Marmion was told by awards organisers that as the 2009 show actually ran for under 40 minutes, it wouldn’t be seen by judges.
‘We didn’t get any attention from judges last year,’ he said. ‘We were really disappointed not to be eligible. We felt we might have wasted a lot of money going up there.
‘But last year’s show felt more like a preview – not in that we’ve used any of the same material – but compared to doing a full show this year.’
Awards producer Nica Burns confirmed: ‘Last year, the show was actually less than 40 minutes, so we did not send panelists as it was not long enough. We said they would therefore be eligible for newcomers this year.’
Of all nominees, she added: ‘Two fantastic 30th anniversary shortlists which reflect the enormous changes in the comedy landscape.
‘For the first time two first class female comics, Josie Long and Sarah Millican, both best newcomer winners join 20-year-old Bo Burnham in an outstanding Edinburgh debut, Greg Davies from We Are Klang in his first solo show and Russell Kane winning his third consecutive nomination.
‘It took a very impassioned, intense debate to select the nominees from an extremely strong and diverse long list. 2010 will be remembered as a vintage year for comedy.'
The winners will be announced at lunchtime on Saturday. The winner of the main award wins £10,000 while best newcomer and the panel prize for the show that best encapsulates the spirit of the Fringe wins £5,000.
Saturday will also see the naming of the ‘comedy god’, chosen from all the winners and nominees in the award’s 25-year history, from when it was sponsored by Perrier, Intelligent Finance and, last year, by Burns herself.
Japanese avant garde group Frank Chickens have been leading the voting, following a subversive campaign spearheaded by Stewart Lee in protest at the way the poll would link big-name comic to a corporate sponsor, overshadowing the acts and defying the experimental spirit of the Fringe. Although online votes are still accepted today, the leaderboard is no longer visible.
The judging panel is chaired by Telegraph comedy critic Dominic Cavendish and comprises: Stephen Armstrong (Sunday Times critic); Nerys Evans (Channel 4 commissioning editor), Tania Harrison (promoter with Festival Republic), Paul MacInness (entertainment editor of Guardian.co.uk), Susan Provan (artistic director of the Melbourne Comedy Festival), Alison Vernon-Smith (executive producer, BBC radio comedy) and comedy fans Joseph Beckett, Greg Jennings and Joanne Rutherford who won competitions to be on the panel.