On the brink of making it big in comedy at Edinburgh Fringe

Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:30am EDT
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By Stephen Eisenhammer

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - A few months ago Max Olesker and Ivan Gonzalez, both 27, were sitting in a dank East London flat poring over lines and comedic pauses. Now they're in the running to win one of Britain's most prestigious comedy awards.

The comedy sketch duo known as Max and Ivan, whose tender narrative of a school reunion has packed in audiences all month and caught the attention of critics, have been shortlisted for the Foster's Comedy Award for best act at the Edinburgh Fringe, the world's largest arts festival.

The award brings with it 10,000 pounds ($15,600), but more than that it is a launch pad for stardom.

British actor Hugh Laurie (best known for U.S. TV medical series "House") won the award, then called the Perrier, with British actors Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson as the Cambridge Footlights back in 1981.

Since then "The Look of Love" actor Steve Coogan, and the sketch group behind the dark UK TV comedy "League of Gentlemen" have also won the prize.

The award has become an important marker both for emerging talent and for the state of alternative comedy in general. It cannot be won by comics who already have a TV series or can fill a 500-seat venue under their own name.

"(Winning) would change our prospects, of course it would," Olesker told Reuters in an interview in a dimly lit bar above their Edinburgh venue.

"The prize is a milestone, it's a wonderful thing."   Continued...