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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 August 2006, 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Phil Nichol wins top comedy award
Phil Nichol
Nichol's show describes a debauched weekend in Amsterdam
Canadian stand-up veteran Phil Nichol has been made this year's winner of the Edinburgh Festival's top comedy awards.

The Scots-born comic took the 8,000 if.comeddies best comedy prize for his one-hour show The Naked Racist.

The awards, formerly known as the Perrier Awards, are given out annually during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Awards producer Nica Burns said Nichol was a "flamboyant comedy character on the Fringe who blew everybody away with an outstanding show".

'Thermonuclear'

The awards were rebranded this year after finance group Intelligent Finance took over sponsorship.

Nichol's Edinburgh Festival pedigree stretches back as far as 1993, when he was nominated while performing with musical comedy trio Corky and the Juice Pigs.

His latest show describes a debauched weekend in Amsterdam when he comes across drug dealers, taxi drivers and racists.

Nichol was previously nominated for the Perrier Award in 2002.

Critics described his performance this year as "thermonuclear" and "pin-you-in-the-seats stuff".

Nichol beat four other shortlisted contenders - gay Asian GP Paul Sinha, Bristol stand-up Russell Howard, Irishman David O'Doherty and three-man sketch team We Are Klang.

Awards producer Nica Burns called the line-up "a brilliant shortlist" that reflected "a huge breadth of comedy talent".

The nine-strong judging panel included Times critic Dominic Maxwell, Sunday Times reviewer Stephen Armstrong and Victoria Lloyd, BBC Radio Entertainment producer.

Fringe spirit

The if.comeddies Best Newcomer award went to the awards' sole female nominee Josie Long, a 24-year-old Oxford University graduate.

Her hit show, Kindness and Exuberance, was described as "off the wall" and "inspired".

She beat rivals Russell Kane, Andrew Lawrence, sketch troupe Fat Tongue and New York-based musical duo God's Pottery.

A special jury prize, the Panel Prize, was awarded to Bristol comedian Mark Watson.

This prize goes to the act or show considered to best capture "the comedy spirit of the 2006 Fringe".

Watson staged a 36-hour stand-up marathon, and also held comedy workshops with the audience.

Both Long and Watson receive 4,000.

All the winners will be performing at Edinburgh's Assembly Hall on the Mound in two special shows on Sunday and Monday.

Managing director of Intelligent Finance Mark Parker said: "We have three fantastic winners and we know they will bring much pleasure to audiences all over the UK."

Last year's Perrier Award recipient, comedian Laura Solon, was only the second woman to win the prize in its 25-year history - the first being Jenny Eclair in 1995.

Other previous winners have included Steve Coogan, Lee Evans and the League of Gentlemen.


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