Pajama MenThe Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s most prestigious annual award, the Barry Award, was awarded early this morning at the Festival Club to The Pajama Men (USA), also known as Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez and their musical accomplice Luminous Craft, for their show Versus Vs. Versus.

The Barry Award, named after Barry Humphries, the first patron of the Festival, recognises the Comedy Festival’s Most Outstanding Festival Show, specifically aiming to seek out those performers who are enhancing the art form of comedy and acknowledging their vision.

Also in contention for the 2009 Barry Award were the six other nominees: Tim Minchin (AUS) – Ready For This?, Rich Hall (USA) - Otis Lee Crenshaw Featuring Special Guest Rich Hall, Jesse Griffin (NZ) – Wilson Dixon Rides Again, Sarah Millican (UK) – Sarah Millican’s Not Nice, Asher Treleaven (AUS) – Open Door and Henning Wehn & Otto Kuhnle (DEU) - 1000 Years of German Humour.

The Pajama Men will join the company of past Barry Award winners including Kristen Schaal and Nina Conti (tied winners of 2008), Daniel Kitson (2007), Demetri Martin (2006), Keating! The Opera (2005), Maria Bamford (2004), Mike Wilmot (2003), Ross Noble (2002), Brian Munich & Friends (2001) and The Mighty Boosh (2000).

The panel of 11 judges range from industry professionals to media, with Festival Director Susan Provan chairing the panel, but not casting a vote for the Barry Award. The judges came to a consensus on Saturday evening.

“All the way from Albuquerque New Mexico The Pajama Men quickly became the buzz of the festival. They won over the Barry judges with an outstanding and utterly hilarious performance that combined music, character, sketch and physical comedy in a high energy hour of belly laughs,” said Susan Provan.

To be eligible for this prestigious award, a show must have had at least 10 performances as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in the particular year and cannot have won the Barry Award already.

Other awards

• The Age Critics’ Award
2009 Winner: Celia Pacquola - Am I Strange?

• The Melbourne Airport Best Newcomer Award: For the best newcomer at the Festival - the winner jets off to either experience the Brighton Comedy Festival or the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the UK.
2009 Winner: Tom Ballard – Is What He Is

• The Directors’ Choice Award:
Awarded by the Comedy Festival Director in consultation with other visiting Festival Directors.
2009 Winner: The Bedroom Philosopher – Songs From the 86 Tram

• The Piece of Wood: The beloved (and much bitten) comics’ choice award selected by past winners and presented to a peer literally for “doing good stuff ‘n’ that”.
2009 Winner: Lawrence Mooney - Make The Girls Laugh

• The Golden Gibbo: In memory of the late, great Lynda Gibson and awarded to a local, independent show that pursues the artist’s idea more strongly than it pursues any commercial lure.
2009 Nominees:
Heath McIvor – Randy’s Postcards from Purgatory
Rob Hunter – Moosecow
Vigilantelope – Tale Of The Golden Lease
The Last Tuesday Society – The List Operators
Tom Ballard Is What He Is
Wes Snelling in Kiosk.
2009 Winner: The Last Tuesday Society – The List Operators

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