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Edinburgh Festival reveals comedy shortlist

23rd August 2007

A "silly" sketch show and a character with shades of Alan Partridge are among the nominees for Edinburgh's leading comedy gongs, the if. comedy awards. Comedy troupe Pappy's Fun Club and Ivan Brackenbury's Hospital Radio Roadshow compete for the £8,000 comedy prize. Stand-up Andrew Lawrence, and festival regulars Andrew Maxwell and Brendon Burns are also in the running.

Formerly known as the Perriers, the awards were re-named after new sponsors Intelligent Finance last year. Awards producer Nica Burns said the line-up provided "something for everyone" with routines running from surreal sketches to musings on fanaticism. The shortlist is about setting the standard for the year

Stand-ups Jon Richardson, Micky Flanagan and Zoe Lyons are up for the best newcomer prize, alongside Tom Basden - whose multimedia show deals with topics as varied as suicide and Chris Tarrant.

Judges attended 335 separate shows to draw up the shortlist for the two awards. The winners will be announced by Hollywood actor Christian Slater at midnight on 25 August. Although there are three stand-ups in the running for the main prize, their shows are very different. Andrew Lawrence has made the shortlist just one year after he was nominated for the newcomer award - an achievement Burns calls "extraordinary".

The comedian's angry rants target the obese, chavs and vegans - not to mention himself. He notes his ginger hair is "the colour of sexual rejection". Phil Nichol took the prize last year for his show The Naked Racist

Andrew Maxwell is a more traditional stand-up, whose whimsical monologue has been likened to Billy Connoly and Dave Allen. Burns says the Irish comedian has come close to being shortlisted for the comedy awards before. "He has really thought about his show this year and taken a big step forward," she says.

The producer says Edinburgh veteran Brendan Burns (no relation) has been nominated for his "challenging" show, So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now, which ends with a surprising and "extreme" twist.

Tom Binns makes the shortlist with his comic creation Ivan Brackenbury, an inept hospital radio DJ in the style of Smashie, Nicey and Alan Partridge. His show contains a string of plagiarised Radio One jingles and inappropriate dedications to seriously ill patients. Burns calls it the "perfect Edinburgh show".

Four-piece comedy company Pappy's Fun Club are the final nominees, with their "silly" and "joyful" sketch show. Reviews have likened the troupe's "absurd" style to Monty Python, picking out characters like the Three Gay Hitlers and Two-Second Memory Man Mr Dave Javoo as favourites.

This year's judging panel includes Times critic Dominic Maxwell, Paramount Comedy's Kathleen Hutchison and BBC producer Colin Anderson. Burns admits the panel will have a "difficult job" deciding on a winner before the weekend. "But the shortlist is about setting the standard for the year," she says. "After that, it's all down to personal taste among the panel."

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