THE finalists for an annual award that has helped Edinburgh Fringe performers on their road to comedy superstardom have been announced.
A shortlist of seven has been drawn up for the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards, while a further six acts are in the running for best newcomer.
The inaugural competition, in 1981, was won by Cambridge Footlights, with a line-up that included Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson. Other acts to have won over the years include Frank Skinner and Steve Coogan, while Jimmy Carr, Peter Kay, Eddie Izzard and Ross Noble have been nominated.
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This year, Alex Horne, James Acaster, John Kearns, Liam Williams, Sam Simmons, Romesh Ranganathan and Sara Pascoe have made the shortlist for the best comedy show and the chance to win a £10,000 prize. Kearns, Williams and Ranganathan were all nominated in the best newcomer category last year - a development that the organisers hailed as "unprecedented".
Meanwhile, the winner of this year's £5,000 best newcomer award will be chosen from Alex Edelman, Dane Baptiste, Gein's Family Giftshop, Lazy Susan, Lucy Beaumont and Steen Raskopoulos. The winners will be announced on Saturday.
Nica Burns, producer of the awards, said: "For the second year running, reflecting the huge amount of diverse comedy talent at the fringe, the shortlist for the Foster's best comedy show is seven strong.
"Between them, these outstanding performers reach every funny bone.
"The shortlist for the newcomers is exceptionally strong with a wealth of talent from stand-up to character comedy and sketch."