James Acaster takes out top prize at Melbourne International Comedy Festival

 smh.com.au  04/20/2019 04:23:00 

James Acaster takes out top prize at Melbourne International Comedy Festival

English comedian James Acaster has scooped the top award at the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival with his show Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999.

Known until this week as the "Barry", the award recognises the most outstanding show of the festival.

James Acaster.

James Acaster.Credit:ABC Publicity

"I genuinely don't know what to say," Acaster said in his acceptance speech on Saturday afternoon.

"I've been really rude to Melbourne audiences all month, telling them the festival is a piece of shit," he said. "I didn't mean it but I feel like I don't deserve this."

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In his show Acaster reflects on the best and worst years of his life. His polished storytelling style winning him critical acclaim throughout the festival season.

Other nominees included Anne Edmonds' What's Wrong with You?, Geraldine Hickey's Things are Going Well, Nath Valvo's I'm Happy for You, Tome Allen's Absolutely, and Cassie Workman's Giantess.

The Barry award was named after Barry Humphries, the Australian comedian known worldwide for his drag character Dame Edna.

Humphries came under fire last year for comments he made about transgender people during an interview with Britain's The Spectator.

Barry Humphries will no longer have a Melbourne International Comedy Festival award named after him.

Barry Humphries will no longer have a Melbourne International Comedy Festival award named after him. Credit:Simon Schluter

"How many different kinds of lavatory can you have? And it's pretty evil when it's preached to children by crazy teachers," he said during the interview.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival director Susan Provan said this week that those comments were not the sole reason the award's name was changed although they "didn't help".

Other awards presented on Saturday included Best Newcomer, won by Blake Freeman for his show There's Something There.

The People's Choice Award, determined by ticket sales, was won by Urzila Carlson.

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The Director's Choice Award was given to Aaron Chen.

The comedians' choice Piece of Wood award went to Geraldine Hickey.

The Pinder Prize, which is named after festival co-founder John Pinder and helps support comedians make their Edinburgh Fringe debut, went to Sam Taunton and Steph Tisdell.

Joshua Ladgrove won the "Golden Gibbo" award, which celebrates independent comedians.

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