Edinburgh Festival '99: Diary

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The Independent Culture
IN A victory for the mediocre, the also-rans and the might-have- beens, the comedian Al Murray (pictured below) has been disqualified from this year's Perrier Award for being "too successful". Yes, you read it right. It seems he's guilty of having played at what are euphoniously called mid-size venues and, most heinous this, adding extra shows to his run at the festival.

But without Murray, what is still the festival's most prestigious comedy prize is sure to be devalued. His inspirationally funny pub landlord ponders the important questions of the day - why the ladies shouldn't drink pints, how we're so much better than the French - and, tangentially, explains the late-20th-century crisis of masculinity. All in an hour.

Compare that with the average comedian's tired collection of knob gags and observations about the weather. The real problem is that Murray has been nominated for the Perrier three years in a row (1996, 1997 and 1998) and the organisers are clearly at a loss to know what to do should he (for which read, when he) receives his fourth nomination.

Al Murray is too funny. You heard it here in Edinburgh.