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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Five battle for Perrier prize
TV and film star Lee Evans won the award in 1993
Five comedians are vying for the prestigious Perrier Comedy Award which could launch them into the big league.

Judges have revealed the names of the short listed comics for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival prize.

Jason Byrne
Jason Byrne has been likened to Spike Milligan
Garth Marenghi, Dan Antopolski, Jason Byrne, Adam Hills and Daniel Kitson are the chosen five who will go forward to Saturday's final, in what has been a very successful year at the Festival.

Nica Burns, director and producer of the Perrier Awards, said: "It has been an extraordinary year for comedy.

"The more well-known names have sold out and the major comedy producers all report higher ticket sales than last year.

Surreal spectacle

Horror specialist Marenghi has made the final cut for the second year running, this time for his show Netherhead.

And Perrier Newcomer nominee Antopolski has made it into the main award category with his performance.

His show mixes the surreal spectacle of stand-up, music and gadgets.

Entering the fray for the first time are three comedians with wildly different styles.

Rich Hall
Rich Hall saw off competition from 140 other acts in 2000
Byrne is described as "part Spike Milligan, part Duracell Bunny".

A review in the List magazine lavished him with such high praise as: "If you're not on the floor in hysterics then you are probably dead."

'Nice guy'

Australian-born Hills was noticed for his new show Go You Big Red Fire Engine.

The former radio presenter, who is now based in Dublin, has worked alongside last year's winner Rich Hall and Sean Hughes and earned the tag "the nice guy of comedy".

Final nominee Kitson prefers to take a different tack, with rude and crude show Love, Innocence and the Word Cock.

The bespectacled comic was a former 11 O' Clock Show warm up man.

Previous Perrier Award winners have included Steve Coogan, Frank Skinner, Lee Evans, Sean Hughes and Al Murray.

For many it has been the stepping stone to bigger things in television, movies and the comedy circuit.

The awards have been running since 1981 when the Cambridge Footlights, which included Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie, won the inaugural contest.

The winner will be announced at midnight on Saturday.

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