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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Perrier Awards 2003: The nominees
The shortlist for this year's Perrier Awards has been announced, with Australian Adam Hills leading the race.

Adam Hills

Adam Hills
Third time lucky?
Australian performer Adam Hills has been nominated for the Perrier twice before.

He is the highest-profile nominee - appearing on BBC Radio 4 during the festival, and having co-wrote and performed in Radio 2's We Say Tomay-to.

Hills is not afraid of dealing with tough topics - the Bali bombing features in his set, but he has also raised money for the victims of the terrorist attack.

"If you hear any jokes you don't like, feel free to invade the stage," he told an American heckler.

Bruce Dessau wrote in the London Evening Standard: "This fabulous set pushes all the right buttons. If punters picked winners, Hills would romp home."

Odds on winning: Evens

Demetri Martin

Demetri Martin
Martin has generated festival 'buzz'
Martin has been the sensation of the festival, going from virtual unknown to hot tip to win.

Hailing from New York, he has already become a regular on the talk show circuit, appearing on the Conan O'Brien and David Letterman shows.

He also won the jury award for best show at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado.

Martin's Edinburgh show has been peppered with charts and diagrams as he talks about his life - Daily Telegraph critic Mark Monahan called him "funny, hypnotic and entirely original".

Odds on winning: 3-1

Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords
Widely praised for 2002 Edinburgh show
Flight of the Conchords have been described as New Zealand's "foremost digi-bongo-acapella-rap-influenced guitar-based bongo-funk folk band".

The duo, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, are both drop-outs from Wellington University and made a big splash with their show at the Edinburgh Fringe festival last year.

The pair describe themselves as "fourth most popular folk-parodist duo in New Zealand".

The Guardian's Brian Logan said of their show, High on Folk: "Armed with two acoustic guitars and a choice line in muttering deadpan, they are reinventing folk music."

Odds on winning: 4-1

Reginald D Hunter

Dubbed "the Samuel L Jackson of stand-up", the American's show has caused a stir this year with its uncompromising themes.

White Woman deals with inter-racial sex and attempts to confront the way black men are portrayed.

The first black Perrier nominee, he has been criticised for reinforcing racial stereotypes, but he is defiant, asking: "What does a 22-year-old middle-class lad who had just come out of Oxford know about life?"

The Guardian's Fiachra Gibbons wrote: "What we get is an hour of truth telling, both from him and, even more intriguingly, from his audience. He has the sensitivity to mine pure gold from awkward admissions without using a jackhammer."

Odds on winning: 5-1

Howard Read and Little Howard

Howard Read
Only Briton on the shortlist
A double act with a difference, Read is a 28-year-old comedian and illustrator from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, while Little Howard is a six-year-old figment of his imagination who is brought to life through the wonders of modern technology.

All of Little Howard's movements and sayings are programmed onto a computer so, when he is beamed onto a big screen, Read uses a keyboard to make his creation talk to the audience.

At times, audiences have heckled Little Howard - but the South Park-like character has not been afraid to answer back.

They are a "technically brilliant and exceptionally charming double act", according to Daily Telegraph critic Mark Monahan.

Odds on winning: 6-1


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