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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Perrier winner and nominees profiled

A woman has won the Perrier Comedy Award for only the second time in 25 years. The BBC News website profiles Laura Solon and the other nominees she beat to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe prize.

LAURA SOLON

Laura Solon is only the second female Perrier Comedy Award winner - Jenny Eclair was the first back in 1995.

Laura Solon
Laura Solon wrote the script to her one woman show in two months
Solon showcases eight characters in her show, entitled Kopfrapers Syndrome: One Man and His Incredible Mind.

The show's title has nothing to do with its content.

Solon had been due to perform a show about a boy with a rare mental illness with a male comic, who pulled out after preparations had begun.

She decided to go ahead alone and kept the name to avoid confusing people who had booked tickets.

Her characters include the festival bookworm, Karen the prize winning beautician, Claire the ghost and a hunter who does not believe in zebras.

Dominic Maxwell of the Times called the show "an astonishingly assured debut".

"Solon's series of comic monologues proves her to be an amazingly versatile performer and a hugely promising writer," he said.

Her show is directed by Gary Reich, who has been credited in helping to launch Ali G star Sasha Baron Cohen and Dom Joly to fame.

CHRIS ADDISON

The only act nominated to cover politics, Chris Addison's Atomicity show compares the British reaction to the London attacks with American responses to terror.

Chris Addison
Chris Addison is the bookmakers' favourite to win
Observational comedian Addison was a runner-up last year and is probably the best known of the five nominees.

His show this year is based upon the periodic table of elements.

His self-titled debut solo show was shortlisted for the Perrier best newcomer award in 1998, while a 2002 appearance at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival earned him a nomination for the Barry Humphries Comedy award.

He has teamed up with comedians John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman in Radio Four's political comedy show The Department.

His recent radio series The Ape That Got Lucky was commissioned by Radio Four on the back of his 2002 Edinburgh show of the same name.

This year, Addison played a young policy adviser in ministerial BBC Four satire The Thick of It, opposite Chris Langham and Peter Capaldi.

JEREMY LION

Comedian Justin Edwards is the man behind drunken spoof children's entertainer Jeremy Lion.

Justin Edwards as Jeremy Lion
Justin Edwards has appeared regularly at the Fringe in recent years
Edwards is no stranger to Perrier success having picked up the 2002 newcomer award as one third of sketch group The Consultants, who have since made three series for Radio 4.

His new show, entitled What's the Time, Mr Lion?, sees the shambolic character address issues such as sex education and road safety.

The show is billed as: "Fun for all the family. Not suitable for children."

Alcoholic Lion drinks heavily throughout the show, while performing a series of songs and stories with moral messages.

The Scotsman newspaper said: "If you really want to see how (character-based comedy) is done, see Jeremy Lion."

Edwards has had supporting roles in TV comedies like Black Books, Absolute Power, Peep Show and Hardware.

THE DUTCH ELM CONSERVATOIRE

Sketch group the Dutch Elm Conservatoire is comprised of Stephen Evans, Jim Field Smith, Rufus Jones, Jordan Long and Renton Skinner.

The Dutch Elm Conservatoire
The members' background is in fringe theatre and comedy writing
They began working together in 2002 and made their stage debut in February 2003.

Their Perrier-nominated show Conspiracy is billed as being about "a feckless team of conspiracy investigators based above an estate agents' office in Bracknell".

The team sets out to solve such mysteries as the truth behind President John F Kennedy's assassination and the death of Princess Diana.

In a five-star review, the Scotsman's reviewer Liam Paterson said: "The show is littered with just the right mix of smart lines, ridiculous scenarios, great comic timing, dreadful puns and appalling impersonations."

The team debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and have individually appeared in TV comedies like Coupling, The Robinsons and The Office.

They have been commissioned to make a Radio 4 pilot of Conspiracy and are also developing TV projects.

JASON MANFORD

Mancunian Jason Manford has regularly been compared by critics to Phoenix Nights star Peter Kay.

Stand up comic Jason Manford
Jason Manford explodes popular myths about serial killers in his show
Manford, 24, who cites Kay as an early influence on his easy-going style, exposes urban myths in his nominated show Urban Legend.

Like Kay and Johnny Vegas, he is a former winner of the North West Comedian of the Year prize.

His big break came at Manchester's Buzz club when an act failed to turn up and Manford, who was working at the venue as a pot-collector, stepped in.

He scooped the North West prize after just seven gigs, and went on to be semi-finalist for the BBC Comedy Awards.

Urban Legend is Manford's first Edinburgh appearance after graduating from university last year.

His TV appearances include a supporting role in Johnny Vegas's BBC Three drug dealer comedy Ideal.

The Independent's comedy reviewer Julian Hall said Urban Legends was "a carefully prepared show".

"(It) has the advantage of dissecting subject matter that is intrinsically interesting and funny," he said.


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