Perrier awards to recognise 'senior-level' comedians

She announced this year's five-strong shortlist. The nominees are the comedy quintet Dutch Elm Conservatoire, Laura Solon, a 26-year-old Oxford graduate and only female on the shortlist, Justin Edwards who performs under the stage name of Jeremy Lion as a disastrous children's entertainer, and the stand-up comics, Jason Manford and Chris Addison.

All are competing for the £7,500 prize and a fast-track route to becoming a household name. Previous winners include Emma Thompson, Lee Evans, Frank Skinner and Jeremy Hardy. Ms Burns said: "A whole new generation of comedians is stepping into the spotlight. We will look at 2005 and regard it as a breakthrough year. These are next-generation stars. In terms of discovery, this is a major year for talent."

She said she would turn to the industry for suggestions on changing the prize rules, after the winner is announced at midnight on Saturday. "It's time to review them. When I started, there were only 40 shows that were eligible, now there are over 200. It's a different world to 25 years ago. We need to redefine it for the next 10 years."

Ms Burns said she favoured a separate award that acknowledged "people who are at a different level in their careers, an award for more senior-level comedians". The Perrier rewards the best comedy act at the Festival, but excludes those deemed already "stars". There is also a category for the Best Newcomer, for which this year's shortlisted nominees are Charlie Pickering, Mark Watson, Rhod Gilbert, Tim Minchin and Toulson and Harvey.

Ms Burns said there were ideas from different quarters such as including an international award, a prize for "senior-level" comedians who had established themselves on the circuit or on digital TV stations, and categories for sketches, physical comedy and stand-up.

Justin Edwards, a previous joint holder of a Perrier Best Newcomer prize, said winning would help to raise the profile of his act, which he hoped would appear on television. He approved of a new category for next year's awards. "It's probably a good thing to have a change," he said. "Introducing separate categories for sketches and stand-up might be good. It's very difficult to judge a character show with a sketch."

Jason Manford was delighted to be nominated. He graduated from university only last year, and it is his first performance at the Fringe. He said he had been anxious about performing as his country-wide preview of the show had not always been successful. "The audience at Edinburgh is really enjoying it. I did eight or nine previews around the country testing jokes and I thought, 'Oh my God, what am I doing?' My act is a bit like a funny lecture. I research legends and work out where they are from."

The comedy shortlist

JEREMY LION 'What's The Time, Mr Lion?'

Justin Edwards jointly won the Best Newcomer Award in 2002 with Neil Edmond and James Rawlings forConsultants, now in its fourth series on Radio 4. This new act is about Jeremy Lion, a failed children's entertainer and drunk. Edwards, 33, said winning his Perrier "really opened doors".

LAURA SOLON 'Kopfraper's Syndrome: One Man and His Incredible Mind'

Solon, 26, started writing and performingat Oxford University, where she read English. She formed a double act with Richard Hough, performing in pubs, but left to work by herself last year and was discovered at a sketch night in a north London pub.

JASON MANFORD 'Urban Legend'

Manford, 24, got his start at Manchester's BUZZ club when an act failed to show. At 17, and after only five gigs, he won the North West Comedian of the Year Award, previously won by Caroline Aherne and Johnny Vegas. His inaugural Edinburgh Festival act revolves around the 'urban legends' that people grow up with.

CHRIS ADDISON 'Atomicity'

Probably the best known of the five short-listed, he was nominated for Best Newcomer in 1998, and again last year for his show Civilisation. He tackles the British response to the July 7 bombings in his show, and its emotional contrast to the US response to a terror attack. He is the only "political" act of the five.

DUTCH ELM CONSERVATOIRE 'Conspiracy'

The comedy quintet comprising Steve Evans, Jim Field Smith, Renton Skinner, Rufus Jones and Jordan Long started their sketch-based comedy at the Edinburgh Festival last year. This year's skits revolve around the idea they are running a conspiracy theory investigation service from Bracknell.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there