Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 12:28 UK

Edinburgh Comedy Awards - The nominees

The shortlist has been announced for the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. The awards, formerly known as the Perriers and the If.comedies, have been unearthing new comedy stars since 1981. Steven Brocklehurst spoke to the nominees:

JOHN BISHOP - ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

The comedian was a 10-year-old living on a council estate in Runcorn, Cheshire, when he heard the king of rock 'n' roll was dead.

John Bishop

He said he remembered being really upset when he heard the news on the radio (no breakfast TV in 1977).

Bishop describes thinking of Elvis as a "proper star, a proper man".

Last year the 42-year-old comedian was shocked to find out, as he watched a TV documentary, that he was approaching the age Elvis was when he died.

"It gave me a chance to reflect on my life, stand on stage and moan to people," he said.

"It is not a homage to Elvis. I'm certainly not going on stage dressed as Elvis or singing his songs.

"It is just an important marker, a chance to take stock of where you have come to in life."

JOHN RICHARDSON - THIS GUY AT NIGHT

"I spend a lot of time on my own," the 26-year-old comedian said.

Jon richadrson

"So it is a natural theme for my show.

"It is about perfectionism. If you try to never make mistakes and make your life perfect, does that make your life better or not?"

The Lancastrian funnyman said he spent a lot of time in fear of making a mistake.

"It definitely makes your life worse," he said.

"And you end up making mistakes because you are nervous.

"You limit your life by not trying new things."

Richardson thinks most people can relate to his fears.

"I try to talk about things that will make people laugh but you can also see them nodding.

"If they are nodding, you know they are into it."

TIM KEY - THE SLUTCRACKER

"It is a bit of misnomer really," said Key.

tim key

"It is more a poetry recital really.

"I string about 15 poems together with lots of bits and pieces for variety. Otherwise it is just poems and people would hate me."

Key, 32, said he did a show two years ago called Slut in a Hut and he has now decided that Slut is a good brand for his comedy.

The poems are about death, sex and dew, he said.

"There is a lot of sex. I would not say I distance myself completely from the slut tag.

"Two years ago it was more slutty.

"This time it is more charming sluttiness."

Key, originally from Cambridge, insists the poems are not from personal experience.

"They are frivolous, stupid poems mainly," he said.

RUSSELL KANE - HUMAN DRESSAGE

"The title is a metaphor. There is not equestrianism in it," Kane said.

russell kane

"It is about the little dances, the little sociological set-pieces that we parade in our lives."

Kane, 34, incorporates academic research on subjects such as the "biological feminisation of the male" but the task is to take the audience with you, he said.

"When I have a 'thinky' audience on a Monday or Tuesday, I have said: 'You know what? let's have a think'.

"I have learned from these initial shows to mix up the 'thinky', 'thesis-y' stuff with the funnies.

"Your Friday/Saturday crowd say: 'It is the guy from Live at The Apollo, watch him do the bit about his dad'.

"You can still slip in the thinky bits but it is a different show."

IDIOTS OF ANTS - THIS IS WAR

"We have done something slightly different with the format but essentially we stuck to what we originally did, which is slick, fast-paced sketches," said Andrew Spiers, one quarter of Idiots of Ants.

diots of ants

Spiers met Yorkshiremen Ben Wilson and James Wrighton at university in Birmingham.

Elliot Tiney was a friend from drama school.

The ants' intention is to pull the idea of a sketch show apart and put it together again in a different way.

But the joke count has to be high, they insist.

"We try to get lots of jokes within sketches which are quite high concept," said Spiers.

"The key is variation. We use audio/visual projection, straight sketches as well as songs to keep it varied."

TOM WRIGGLESWORTH - OPEN RETURN LETTER TO RICHARD BRANSON

Always previously an armchair activist, it was "on a knife-edge" whether Wigglesworth would intervene when he witnessed a ticket collector giving a 75-year-old woman a hard time over a mix-up on a train from Manchester to London.

To Wrigglesworth

The 32-year-old funnyman from Sheffield tried to help the woman who was forced to pay £115 for a new ticket, more than 10 times the original cost.

Wrigglesworth organised a whip-round, but the ticket attendant got him questioned by police for begging when he arrived in London.

A battle with Virgin Trains led to a change in the rules on not being able to buy off-peak tickets once you have boarded the train.

It also led to a successful Fringe show and a comedy awards nomination.

"Something about this situation made me act at the time," the comedian said.

"I think it was the sheer brutality of it. The sheer heartlessness of what the ticket collector did.

"It would have been so easy for him to walk away. It was absolutely grotesque."



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