A coup for the Edinburgh comedy award, whose shortlist is announced tomorrow, which has announced that former winner Steve Coogan will present the prize to this year's winner at a ceremony this Saturday.
Knowing me, knowing the winner of the Foster's Edinburgh comedy award
Coogan won the prize in 1992; his sidekick in the Alan Partridge series Mid-Morning Matters and in the new Alpha Papa movie, Tim Key, is also a former winner.
Alongside Coogan will be last year's champ Doctor Brown. The shortlist for the award is announced tomorrow. The winner takes away £10,000; the prize-giving takes place at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh at lunchtime on Saturday.
Talking of awards, a brief word about John Kearns, who is being talked up as shortlist material, and has received the rare accolade of a five-star review from Chortle's editor Steve Bennett. I saw the show last week, and can see what the fuss is about, while finding that it didn't so much satisfy my appetite as whet it for whatever Kearns does next.
What's exciting about the act is that Kearns is doing something difficult to pin down, somewhere between autobiography, rubbish anti-comedy (think Brian Gittins, Johnny Sorrow) and Vic 'n' Bob-esque oddity. He declares his intentions upfront, by appearing in party-shop monk's wig and big false teeth – which he wears, without much explanation, throughout the show. He opens by playing a TV theme-ish piece of music and singing "na-na-na-na" along to it for ages. This, he tells us, is our chance to leave. The joke is that there's no obvious skill on display, and yet Kearns is satisfied with his status as a pro comic. "Imagine," he says, "if I couldn't do this?"
There is skill on display, and it's that of keeping his audience on the back foot with his series of idiosyncratic routines. Having established that one member of his audience has been to Berlin, he performs a long mime of entering and exploring his hotel room on a recent (solitary) trip to the city – before puncturing the silence beautifully with a remark that suddenly transposes the audience member into the scenario. Elsewhere, there's a snapshot of people queuing in the Louvre to see the space left by the Mona Lisa's theft, and a weirdly resonant gag about Kearns' preference for rain over heat – because it's less easy to tell where heat is coming from.
The character's mix of self-satisfaction and awareness of his own enfeeblement is an intriguing one, as if he thinks staging shows like these entitles him to a high status that cancels out the hopelessness of his real life. Costume changes, shabby props and the quality of (some of) the jokes add to the liveliness. But it's not all compelling. There's some gross material, and when he starts selecting people from the crowd to come onstage and waggle their backsides, I'd rather be elsewhere. But Kearns is definitely a find, and it'll be fascinating to see where he takes the act from here.
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