Edinburgh Comedy Awards - Who's Who?

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The winner of this year's Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards was announced on Saturday afternoon as Adam Riches. The judges chose six acts from the 505 who qualified for the best comedy show category at the Fringe. Before the result, we spoke to the six comedians on the short-list.

Adam Riches

Adam Riches: Bring Me the Head of Adam Riches -

"Organised chaos" is how Riches describes his show. He says: "It gets quite chaotic. It is meant to, in order to keep the momentum going. I am stuck in the middle like a whirling dervish trying to keep all the plates spinning." What can an audience expect from a Riches show? Swingball, with the balls flying over their heads; learning to act like Daniel Day Lewis; riding on top of people dressed as lizards on skateboards; and vomiting apple juice into Riches's mouth to feed the comedian as a starling would its young. He says: "I wanted to do something that had a playful element to it so the audience were celebrated on stage and not humiliated. Games are a good way of doing that. I wanted to have an element that was different every day so it would keep me on my toes."

andrew maxwell

Andrew Maxwell: The Lights Are On -

It is four years since Maxwell was last nominated for this award and 17 years since he first performed at the Fringe. The Irishman is a veteran of the comedy circuit and an long-established Edinburgh favourite. Asked to sum up his comedy style, he opted for "conspiratorial raconteur". Maxwell says: "I love the news. The show is about my personal relationship with the news and then I discuss the taboos and whether we can break them." The comic says this has been a fantastic year for news with the Phone Hacking scandal, the Arab Spring and the riots in England providing a great source of material for his show. He says: "When the riots kicked off in London I re-wrote the opening 10 to 15 minutes of the show. But it is not all topical. There are poo jokes and funny voices and funny walks. I do it all."

Chris Ramsey

Chris Ramsey: Offermation - The 25-year-old funnyman says his comedy has observations hidden in the stories but it is not what he would call "observational comedy". He says: "They are true stories. This year it is all true. It is based on some letters I get from family members I have never met - like a Christmas round robin. It is stand-up but it has got a bit of a drive behind it, a theme, an arc." Ramsey, who is from South Shields and has a routine in his show about not being a Geordie but a Sand Sider, has sold out his Edinburgh run on the back of recent panel show appearances. He cites Billy Connolly as comic inspiration and influence. Ramsey says: "The way Billy Connolly stands on stage and makes it feel as though it is just you. Like you could be standing next to him in the pub and he would be telling you a story. That's the best stuff."

Josie Long

Josie Long: The Future Is Another Place -

This is the second year in a row that Long has had a best comedy nomination and this time she is even more overtly political. Long says: "I have ramped it up. Why? Because the Conservatives in government do something every day to annoy and upset me." She says she feels the Tories have a completely different viewpoint to her on everything and that is "infuriating and intolerable". Long says: "My show is about anger and feeling lonely. It does not feel like there is lots of support. They control the media. They have got all the money and all the power." But Long dismisses any suggestion she is leading any sort of political campaign. She says: "I don't feel like a leader. I'm a chubby clown. I'm out of my depth. But I really do feel this strongly and I try to write about what I care about."

Nick Helm

Nick Helm: Dare to Dream - Helm's stage persona has been described as a "bellowing madman", a phrase he reluctantly accepts. However, he rejects any accusation that he humiliates the audience. He says: "I humiliate myself and then make the audience save me and redeem me but it is a bumpy road. Some people get it straight away and some people walk out before I have managed to apologise to them all." Helm, who is only doing his second run of full-length Edinburgh shows, says he tries to take his audience on an emotional journey as well as a comedy show. He says this year's show is angrier and more bitter than the last. Helm added: "It is an hour of shouting and then at the end you are saying 'he probably needs a hug more than anything'."

Sam Simmons

Sam Simmons: Meanwhile - "Violent surrealism" is the description the Australian funnyman gives to his comedy. "You know, getting people out of the audience and smashing packets of noodles into their faces," he says. "They go with it. They love it. It is modern clowning. I know that silly is not very cool at the moment but it is silly." Simmons, now on his third Edinburgh show, has had a good year. He won the best comedy award at the Adelaide Fringe and was also nominated in Melbourne, where he lost out to Russell Kane. It seems to vindicate a decision he made five years ago to swap zookeeping for comedy. Simmons was an animal enrichment officer - "basically making up games to stimulate animals to forget they are in captivity". He left to work for Australian TV network ABC but now wants to go back to finish his animal husbandry degree and present wildlife documentaries.

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