Writer of 'little poems' wins festival comedy award

He riffs quirkily on which animals he could (or couldn't) fit into and the domestic conundrums of characters called Gladys and Anne – but the performance poet and stand-up Tim Key was speechless when he won the main Edinburgh festival comedy award yesterday.

Key, whose show The Slutcracker has had five-star reviews and sell-out audiences, was presented with the prize – formerly known as the Perrier award – by the comedian Frank Skinner and last year's winner, David O'Doherty. His show includes a poignant poem about Carl collecting two litres of dew to prepare a romantic dinner for two; Derek, whose naked waterspout he admires in the gym; and even a passing look at the love life of the Queen. He arrives dressed as a tramp, and uses audience members to step across the room without touching the floor.

"I'm totally stunned," Key said. "This is quite humbling. I don't know what it will mean for my career but I just want to keep on writing little poems."

Key, 32, started writing poetry three years ago. He has written and performed in the BBC4 show Cowards and We Need Answers.

Nica Burns, the theatrical producer who funds the £150,000 Edinburgh Comedy Awards, said: "Tim Key is a one-off, an adorably diffident performance poet and stand-up. His charming show is full of surprises."

Best newcomer was won by the "highly original" 24-year-old character comic Jonny Sweet, with a show celebrating the life of his fictitious book-blurb writing brother, Arthur.

Right royal verse

Asked if he would compose some lines for The Independent on Sunday, Tim Key wrote:

Phil kissed Liz

and made her feel weird

because the saliva fell on her fillings

and it fizzed

and because he clutched her arse

while he kissed her

and because it hadn't happened for a while

and, principally, she was the Queen.