The 33rd Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award short list has been announced. For those not familiar with the comedy world, it's the big award for best comedy show at the Fringe - though you can't be too big a star already to win it.
It was set up in 1981 when Cambridge Footlights won; the team that year featuring Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Tony Slattery with Jan Ravens directing. Over the years almost all who have won are now a famous name in comedy.
If nothing else the Foster's short list is a good indication of some shows worth checking out and when it comes out on the final Wednesday of the Fringe I always discover that there are shows featured on it that I haven't seen leaving me feeling that I just haven't seen enough. Then I remind myself that there are hundreds of comedy shows at the Fringe and my talent spotting is never going to be as comprehensive as theirs - a ten strong panel team plus scouts. And for a one woman scouting mission, I've not done bad. I've been here for the whole month reviewing for The List, sitting on the panel for the Amused Moose Laughter Award and generally bobbing around to see as much as I can.
Overall it's been a good Fringe, this year I feel have seen some genuinely great stuff within the 70 comedy shows I'll have seen by the end (more of that in the next blog).
So back to that list. This year I've seen three of the shows nominated across the main and newcomer list this year. Most notably Nick Helm, the recipient of my only five star review for The List this year. It was my first time seeing him and it was all I expected it to be, a gloriously grandiose, overblown show full of insecurities and anger management issues. For Helm it's the second time he's been nominated though if he wins it'll ruin the 'never won anything' shtick in his current show.
Over on the newcomer list Aisling Bea was surely a dead cert for a nomination. Presenting her first solo show just a year after appearing at the Fringe winning the So You Think You're Funny? competition for new acts, hers is an incredibly impressive debut, barely a gag goes by that isn't worthy of a big laugh. It's a bargain too, she talks so fast, surely you must be getting more than your money's worth. Elsewhere on the newcomer list former Sheeps member Liam Williams' show is highly inventive; full of lyrical material, innovative ideas and daring presentation - another worthy nominee.
Of the shows on the list I haven't seen I am, nevertheless, familiar with some of the acts. The inclusion of Bridget Christie is no surprise. I'm a fan of her off the wall style and loved 2011's Housewife Surrealist. I'm looking forward to seeing her show this year as I was tipped off that it is a particularly successful blending of the surreal with the feminist.
I've always enjoyed a Seann Walsh set on the circuit, solid stand up and I was told by Scotsman uber-critc Kate Copstick that this year he's really developed so will be sure to catch him as well as the remainder of the list.
This year I did manage to catch up on Doctor Brown who won the Foster's main award last year. Though it was my first time seeing him it wasn't that much of a surprise of how good he was. This year he wasn't presenting a new show but two performances each of his three adult shows. The one I saw was his 2010 Because so it might not be as accomplished as his Foster's winning one last year but it had all the hallmarks of a Brown show, chaotic, disruptive, cheeky and sexually harassing for those on the front row.
Though there's some great stuff on the short lists there are acts that I felt have been overlooked by the panel, so check out the next blog for the acts that I felt were worthy of a nomination.