Mike takes the Barry

Folk parodists best newcomers

Mike Wilmot has won the 2003 Barry Award.

The accolade, named in honour of Dame Edna creator Barry Humphries, is the Melbourne comedy festival's equivalent of the Perrier and worth AU$3,000 (£1,200)

The London-based won ahead of fellow nominees Dom Irrera, New Zealand folk parodists Flight of the Conchords, Lee Mack, Australian mime quartet The Business, Dave Gorman for his Googlewhack Adventure and Australia's Rod Quantock.

The prize, judged by a panel of industry representatives and journalists, was won by Ross Noble last year.

As the award was announced, Wilmot joked: "The evil regime of Ross Noble is over. Let's go outside and tear down his posters.

"As a drunk, I don't normally get awards. I'd like to thank all my fellow nominees, because that seems to be the thing to do. But clearly I am the best."

New Zealand folk parodists Flight Of The Conchords were named best newcomer, receiving AU$1,000 (£400) for their show Folk The World.

Also announced tonight was the winner of the first Aussie Export Award, a British Council initiaitive to bring the best Australian comic to the Edinburgh festival.

The AU$10,000 (£4,000) package went to four-woman mime troupe The Business for their show The Concert, which will now get a run at the Assembly Rooms.

Also winning a trip to Edinburgh - if only the airfare - was the winner of the ABM Amro Exchange Award, Australian act Damian Callinan for his show The Cave To The Rave (The Story Of Dance).

And The Age Critics' Award, judged by reviewers on the Melbourne-based paper was shared between the three comics of Comedy Is Still Not Pretty, and Gud Ugh, the festival show from former Doug Anthony Allstars frontman Paul McDermott.

Accepting the award, one of his team joked: "Paul is so up himself, he's not even here."

And Australian act Justin Hamilton won the Piece Of Wood Award, awarded by local comics to the festival act doing the most to push the boundaries of comedy.

The prize - an actual lump of wood bearing the teeth marks of all previous winners, as well as the inscription "for being good at comedy and shit", was first awarded to an act called Miss Itchy in the kitchens of Melbourne town hall. Subsequent winners have included Simon Munnery, Lee Mack and Stewart Lee.

Published: 18 Apr 2003

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