Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Saturday, 29 August 2009 14:38 UK

Poet named Edinburgh comedy king

tim key
Key won an 8,000 prize and invites to perform at international festivals

This year's Edinburgh Fringe comedy award has been won by Tim Key for his show The Slutcracker.

The 32-year-old, from Cambridge, performs a "confused procession of idiosyncratic poetry and prose".

The awards, formerly known as the Perriers and the If.comedies, have been the launch pad for a string of new comedy stars since 1981.

The best newcomer award was won by Jonny Sweet. The panel prize went to Peter Buckley Hill's Free Fringe.

It was judged to have embodied the spirit of the Fringe.

About 400 shows were eligible for the main award, with the shortlist including Tom Wrigglesworth, Russell Kane and Idiots of Ants.

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

The other nominees for the award - this year called The Eddies - were John Bishop and Jon Richardson.

"Star" names, who have already had TV series or can perform in a 500-seat venue under their own name, were not eligible.

Key told BBC Scotland he was "stunned, overwhelmed and bewildered".

He said his poems were about "death, sex and dew", and were not from personal experience.

The 32-year-old comic added: "They are frivolous, stupid poems mainly.

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

Key received an £8,000 prize, as well as invitations to appear at international comedy festivals in Montreal, Toronto and Chicago.

Nica Burns, the producer of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards said: "Tim Key is a one-off, an adorably diffident performance poet and stand-up. His charming show is full of surprises.

"Tim has funny bones and is a star in the making."

Golden age

Sweet's show Mostly about Arthur, was described by award producer Nica Burns as a "delicious hour of character comedy".

The 24-year-old Londoner, who will soon play the young David Cameron in a More 4 docudrama, won £4,000 for being best newcomer.

Peter Buckley Hill was awarded the Panel Prize in recognition of the work he has done over the past 14 years with the Free Fringe.

Tim Arthur, Time Out comedy critic and chair of the judging panel, said: "The whole panel wanted to recognise the extraordinary work Peter has done in encouraging and enabling some of the most exciting young talenmt on the comedy circuit to perform at the most important arts festival in the world."

The comedy award was first made in 1981 to a Cambridge Footlights cast which included Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Tony Slattery and Emma Thompson - all future comedy stars.

Its golden age came in the early 90s when it was won by Frank Skinner, Steve Coogan and Lee Evans.

Skinner returned to present the awards at the ceremony in Edinburgh.

He said: "The standard is high every year. I don't subscribe to the idea that this award isn't as good as it used to be and all that.

"I think anyone who wins this is top-notch comic. You've got to be brilliant to win it, and to be nominated I think."

Awards producer Nica Burns has spent about £150,000 of her own money this year to keep the prize going without a sponsor.

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