Top UK comedy award goes to English comic

Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:48am EDT
 
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By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - Britain's top annual comedy prize, the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award, went to England's Russell Kane at an Edinburgh Fringe festival ceremony on the weekend for his show "Smokescreens and Castles."

The award for best comedy newcomer on the Fringe was won by 31-year-old London comedienne Roison Conaty, while the Spirit of the Fringe award went to 20-year-old American Bo Burnham, who has accumulated an audience of millions from his YouTube internet comedy broadcasts from his Boston bedroom.

Awards' producer Nica Burns said Kane, 30, from Westcliffe-on-Sea in Essex, "takes the audience by storm with his boundless energy and enthusiasm."

In his new show he "explores self, family, and the consequences of his Dad buying their council flat" in the apartment block nicknamed The Castle. The Sunday Times described the show as "bold, defiant...Shot through with vulnerability."

Conaty, from Camden in north London, told Reuters her experience on this year's Fringe had been "life changing in terms of doing a show every day ... I've learned so much."

She made her debut solo in the show "Hero, Warrior, Fireman, Liar."

The tall, mop-haired Burnham, who started his YouTube comedy exploits four years ago, was also short-listed for the best comedy award.

The awards were announced by star comedian Al Murray, who won the best comedy prize in 1999, and last year's winner Tim Key. Burns said the judging panel had seen 418 shows and attended nearly 1,200 performances over the past three weeks.

The Fringe, the world's largest annual showing of the arts, has fostered a galaxy of stars of theater, film and comedy since its inception alongside the city's International Festival in 1947.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)