The Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s most prestigious annual award, the Barry Award, has been awarded to Sam Simmons.
The Barry Award is one of the world’s most highly regarded comedy awards, the Oscar equivalent of the industry. It launched in 1998 as the 'Stella Award' (and won by Miss Itchy) before being renamed in 2000 to honour the Festival's founding patron Barry Humphries. The Barry recognises the Most Outstanding Comedy Festival show.
Sam joins a long list of illustrious comedians including Denise Scott (2014), Rich Hall (2013), Dr Brown (2012), Russell Kane (2011), Sammy J and Randy (2010), The Pajama Men (2009), Nina Conti (2008), Daniel Kitson (2007), Mike Wilmot (2003) and Ross Noble (2002) – all of whom performed in the 2015 program.
To be eligible for the Barry Award, a show must have had at least ten performances during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in the particular year. The judges for the 18th Annual Barry Award – who this year are made up of nine industry professionals and media – came to a consensus on the shortlist late last night, after spending the last 23 Festival days seeing many of this year’s 559 comedy shows.
Susan Provan, Melbourne International Comedy Festival Director said, “The fantastic prize-winners this year shine a spotlight on the great work coming out of the Australian comedy scene. We’re all so proud of these artists. They are great shows that all deserved the accolades and enthusiastic audiences they gathered.”
Awards also presented at the 29th Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards event, live at the HiFi include:
Best Newcomer Award: Awarded to the best first-timer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
2015 Winner: Corey White – The Cane Toad Effect.
Full list of nominees: Corey White – The Cane Toad Effect, Juan Vesuvius – Calypso Nights, Sam Campbell – Cambo’s On Top and Heidi O’Loughlin – A Woman Talking.
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”. 2015 Winner: Anne Edmonds –You Know What I’m Like!
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. 2015 Winner: Laura Davis - Ghost Machine. Full list of nominees: Watson - Who's Afraid of the Dark, Ben Russell - The Tokyo Hotel, Laura Davis - Ghost Machine, David Quirk – Thrasher, Clara Cupcakes - The Merchant of Whimsy and Jon Bennett - It's Rabbit Night!!!
Directors’ Choice Award: Awarded by the Comedy Festival Director, in consultation with other visiting Festival Directors, to a fabulous show that somehow missed out on any other prize.
2015 Winner: Matt Okine – The Other Guy.
The Airbnb People’s Choice Award: Voted by way of ticket sales – the most popular show in the Festival 2015 Winner: Wil Anderson – Free Wil.
The Funny Tonne Award: Awarded to the most die-hard comedy fan who has reviewed the most shows during the 2014 Festival 2015 Winner: Sarah Trevarthen who saw a whopping 178 comedy shows (beating 2014 winner Chris Menezies who held the previous record of 158 shows).
Other 2015 Melbourne Comedy Festival winners awarded at the Special Events held in the final week of the Festival include Victoria’s Will McKenna – Class Clowns, Queensland’s Angus Gordon – RAW Comedy and Victoria’s Nina Kirby – Deadly Funny.
The 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival officially closes on Sunday 19 April.