'Samuel L Jackson of stand-up' on Perrier shortlist

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An American stand-up comic has become the first black solo act to be nominated for the Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Reginald D Hunter, from Atlanta, Georgia, a best newcomer nominee last year, has been described as the Samuel L Jackson of stand-up comedy. His show, White Woman, is one of five on the shortlist for the main prize, which contains no female solo comedian for an eighth successive year. Howard Read, who performs with a cartoon son, is the only Briton on the shortlist.

The other shortlisted acts are the Australian comic Adam Hills, who has been nominated twice before, the New York newcomer Demetri Martin and the New Zealand spoof musicians, Flight of the Conchords.

Now in its 23rd year, the Perrier Award, traditionally given for the best up-and-coming comic at the Edinburgh Fringe, has helped launch the careers of dozens of performers who are now household names, including Steve Coogan, Frank Skinner, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson.

The favourites are Hills, Martin and Hunter. Kate Copstick, one of 10 judges this year, said: "I would love Adam Hills to win it. People think Adam is just a nice Aussie bloke with some nice jolly stuff, but he's not. He is a masterful comic."

But Martin is seen as having caused the biggest buzz. He "wrings a strange beauty from geekiness and is at times gloriously funny", said one reviewer.

The winners of this year's award will be announced at midnight on Saturday, at the same time as the best newcomer is unveiled. This year's nominees are Alex Horne, Miles Jupp, Gary Le Strange and Michael McIntyre.