Contenders named for Edinburgh comedy award

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One man relives his experience of being stranded at Knutsford service station, another sets his whimsical observations to song, a couple perform a sexually simmering repartee while a fourth man rails against the burdens of family and life's imperfections.

The four comedy acts were deemed the cream of Edinburgh's fringe comedy yesterday when they were nominated for the UK's stand-up version of the Oscars, the if.comedy prize.

The shortlist for the £8,000 "Iffies" – formerly known as the Perrier – consists of the Irish comic David O'Doherty, the US duo Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler, the Welsh comedy stalwart Rhod Gilbert, and a Londoner, Russell Kane. The awards have acted as a launch pad for recipients who have gone on to TV fame.

Three of the nominations are stand-up shows while Schaal and Braunohler's act is sketch-based. It is the first time in 18 years that only four acts have been nominated – judges usually select five acts.

Mica Burns, the founder of the awards, said the shortlist offered something comedic for everyone.