The Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s most prestigious annual award, the Barry Award, was awarded to Russell Kane for Smokescreens And Castles.

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 2011 Barry Award were the six other nominees: Paul Foot - Ash In The Attic, Hannah Gadsby - Mrs Chuckles, Sam Simmons - And The Precise History Of Things, Tig Notaro, DeAnne Smith - About Freakin’ Time and Bob Franklin - An Audience With Sir Robert.

Russell Kane will join the company of past Barry Award winners including Sammy J and Heath McIvor (2010), 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 10 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.

“This is the first time we’ve ever had to call Antigua to make this exciting announcement as well as it being the first time the winner has won both the Edinburgh Comedy Award and the Barry Award in the same year for the same show. Our Best Newcomer, Michael Workman joins the ranks of a number of previous Raw winners who have gone on to present fantastic debut solo shows and The Directors’ Choice winner Denise Scott has inspired a generation of comics and this year made us laugh louder than ever ” 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.

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.
2011 Winner: Michael Workman – Humans Are Beautiful

• The Directors’ Choice Award: Awarded by the Comedy Festival Director in consultation with other visiting Festival Directors.
2011 Winner: Denise Scott – Regrets

• 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”.
2011 Winner: Harley Breen – I Heart Bunnings: Stories About My Brothers

• 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. 2011 Nominees Dr. Professor Neal – Portenza's Interactive Goat Hour v2.0, Xavier Michelides – Future World, Ryan Coffey – Live And Stupider and The Underlads – it’s All About The Destination Not The Journey.
2011 Winner: Geraldine Quinn – You’re The Voice: Songs For The Ordinary By An Anthemaniac

• The Bulmer’s People’s Choice Award: Inaugural award voted by the people – the funniest people’s choice show in the festival.
2011 Winner: Wil Anderson – Man Vs Wil

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