Theres no clear frontrunner for this year's major award, with many of the shortlisted shows garnering superlative reviews across various media outlets.
Pacquola was previously nominated for the Barry Award in 2014. It's Edmonds third nomination for the award in as many years, but the first time she has brought “fashion expert” Helen Bidou to the stage. Could Bidou be her ticket to the Barry?
Integral to Bidous show Enter the Spinnaker Lounge is Sam Campbell, who plays her son. His own solo show, The Trough, is also nominated for the Barry. Bidou has added second nightly shows to the run in addition to the existing 11pm slot – which means Campbell is now performing a gruelling three shows on some nights, with just minutes to run between venues.
Campbell was nominated for best newcomer in 2015; Matafeo was nominated for the same award in 2016, each for their very first solo shows at MICF. Natalie Palamides won best newcomer at Edinburgh last year; Alex Edelman won it in 2014.
Tim Keys poetic approach to comedy earned him the major Edinburgh comedy award (still colloquially referred to as the Perrier Award after its original sponsor) in 2009. Lano & Woodley won the same award back in 1994 – before they rose to household name status in Australia off the back of their ABC TV series – but have never been nominated for the Barry. This year's return show after a 12-year hiatus, Fly, has completely sold out one of the biggest venues at the festival, shifting more than 25,000 tickets.
Festival director Susan Provan said the award shortlist showed "an incredibly diverse mix of comedy performers representing the breadth of work found in the festival. Equal split between men and women; four Australian, four international; standup, duo, character, chaos, poetry, sarongs and eggs. Huge!”
Also announced on Saturday were the Golden Gibbo award nominees: Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew for the Double Denim Adventure Show; Cam Venn; Garry Starr; Julia Rorke and Elysia Hall; and Almost Lesbians.
The winners will be announced this coming Saturday.