The Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s most prestigious annual award, the Barry Award, was awarded early this morning at the Festival Club to Sammy J and Randy otherwise known as puppeteer Heath McIvor for their show Ricketts Lane.

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 2010 Barry Award were the five other nominees: Damian Callinan - The Merger: Sportsman’s Night 2, Josh Thomas - Surprise, Asher Treleaven - Secret Door, Wil Anderson - Wilful Misconduct and The List Operators.

Sammy J and Heath McIvor will join the company of past Barry Award winners including The Pajama Men (2009) 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 13 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.

“The Barry shortlist this year was an eclectic one reflecting how subjective is love of comedy. The judges debate was passionate and the vote very close but all celebrate Sammy J and Heath McIvor’s win with a beautifully crafted laugh out loud show featuring the funniest purple person in Australia and some excellent pole dancing” 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.

The Age’s team of comedy reviewers voted Asher Treleaven – Secret Door the winner of the 2010 Age Critics’ Award.

In a group statement, The Age reviewers said, "In a strong year for local acts, deciding on a winner was particularly difficult. But The Age critics agreed that Asher Treleaven's eccentric exploration of Australian masculinity delivered an intelligent, witty and occasionally weird show that was consistently hilarious. With his unique satirical style, he managed to reinvent old stand-up staples like dick jokes and air travel."

Also awarded:

• 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.
2010 Winner: Claudia O’Doherty – Monster Of The Deep 3D

• The Directors’ Choice Award: Awarded by the Comedy Festival Director in consultation with other visiting Festival Directors.
2010 Winner: Hannah Gadsby - The Cliff Young Shuffle

• 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”
2010 Winner: Sam Simmons - Fail

• 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. 2010 Nominees: Telia Nevile – While I’m Away, Steve Sheehan - Stevl Shefn and His Translator Fatima, Sam Simmons and David Quirk – The Incident, Geraldine Quinn – Shut Up And Sing and Asher Treleaven – Secret Door.
2010 Winner: Sam Simmons and David Quirk – The Incident.

• The Bulmer’s People’s Choice Award: Inaugural award voted by the people – the funniest people’s choice show in the festival.
2010 Winner: Wil Anderson – Wilful Misconduct

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