Q: What do you call a joke about Posh and Becks? A: Edinburgh's best

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Nick Clark reports on the competition to find the finest Fringe funny

David and Victoria Beckham are no strangers to comedians’ barbs but one jibe aimed at the celebrity pair earned comedian Stewart Francis the honour of the best joke at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Francis, a comedian known for his deadpan one-liners, picked up the fifth annual Dave Award for the Funniest Joke of the Fringe for the wisecrack: “You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks.”

The line featured in Return of the Lumberjacks, a show where he performs with other Canadian comics Craig Campbell and Glenn Wool, at The Assembly Rooms. The trio made their Edinburgh debut together 15 years ago.

Another Francis line - “I saw a documentary on how ships are kept together. Riveting” - also made the list of top 10 funniest jokes of the festival.

On receiving the award and cash prize £2,000, which Francis is to donate to charity, the comic said: “1969 West Mall Soccer Association’s Most Valuable Player, and now this. Thank you, Dave.” The digital channel’s general manager Steve North dubbed him the “king of the one-liners”.

Tim Vine, another comedian who specialises in one liners, regularly features in the top 10 of the digital television channel’s award. He won in 2010, and came in second for consecutive years with the crack: “Last night me and my girlfriend watched three DVDs back to back. Luckily I was the one facing the telly.”

The comedian, who won in 2010 and also came second last year, had another quip come in sixth: “I took part in the sun tanning Olympics: I just got Bronze.”

Dan Antopolski, who picked the award in 2009, said winning was a “little bit useful. I was already established but it provided some free publicity, which is not to be turned down. It’s not particularly meaningful”.

He said one side effect was it “killed the joke. It prepares the audience for the punch line, which means they’re less likely to laugh”. He added that many jokes failed to translate from an act onto a list of top 10 jokes. “Out of context they struggle to work. It’s a different dynamic.”

The one-liners in this year’s list were chosen by 10 comedy critics at this year’s Fringe, and the resulting 30 choices were put to a public vote. Francis’ joke received a fifth of the votes.

Others to make the top 10 included Lou Sanders, who said: “I waited an hour for my starter so I complained: ‘It’s not rocket salad’.” Nish Kumar’s contribution ran: “My mum’s so pessimistic, that if there was an Olympics for pessimism… she wouldn’t fancy her chances.”

Last year, Nick Helm won the award last year for the joke: “I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” He told The Independent yesterday it was “ridiculous” to choose one joke from the millions at the festival.

Dave's Top 10 funniest jokes from the Fringe Festival 2012

1. Stewart Francis - "You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks."

2. Tim Vine - "Last night me and my girlfriend watched three DVDs back to back. Luckily I was the one facing the telly."

3. Will Marsh - "I was raised as an only child, which really annoyed my sister."

4. Rob Beckett - "You know you're working class when your TV is bigger than your book case."

5. Chris Turner - "I'm good friends with 25 letters of the alphabet ... I don't know why."

6. Tim Vine - "I took part in the sun tanning Olympics - I just got Bronze."

7. George Ryegold - "Pornography is often frowned upon, but that's only because I'm concentrating."

8. Stewart Francis - "I saw a documentary on how ships are kept together. Riveting."

9. Lou Sanders - "I waited an hour for my starter so I complained: 'It's not rocket salad'."

10. Nish Kumar - "My mum's so pessimistic, that if there was an Olympics for pessimism ... she wouldn't fancy her chances."

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