Sam Simmons wins prestigious Barry Award

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s most prestigious annual award, the Barry Award, has been awarded to Sam Simmons, at the HiFi Bar on the final Saturday night of the festival.

Last year Sam was nominated for the top prize at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Foster’s Comedy Award, and won the Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performance as well as the Festival Director’s Award at the Sydney Comedy Festival. Now based in LA making appearances on Conan and Adam Devine’s House Party, Sam’s 2015 MICF performance of Spaghetti For Breakfast has been a triumphant display by Australia’s global ambassador of semi-professional bafflement!

The Barry Award is one of the world’s most highly regarded comedy awards – the Oscar equivalent of the industry. It was launched in 1998 as the Stella Award 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.

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.

“The fantastic prize-winners this year shine a spotlight on the great work coming out of the Australian comedy scene,” said Festival Director Susan Provan. “We’re all so proud of these artists. They are great shows that all deserved the accolades and enthusiastic audiences they gathered.”

Other Awards presented at the 29th Melbourne International Comedy Festival Awards ceremony include:

Best Newcomer Award: Corey White – The Cane Toad Effect
Awarded to the best first-timer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

The Piece of Wood: Anne Edmonds – You Know What I’m Like!
The beloved (and much bitten) comics’ choice award selected by past winners and presented to a peer literally for “doing good stuff ‘n’ that!

The Golden Gibbo: Laura Davis – Ghost Machine
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.

Directors’ Choice Award: Matt Okine – The Other Guy
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.

The Airbnb People’s Choice Award: Wil Anderson – Free Wil
Voted by way of ticket sales – the most popular show in the Festival

The Funny Tonne Award: Sarah Trevarthen
Awarded to the most die-hard comedy fan who has reviewed the most shows during the 2014 Festival – who saw a whopping 178 comedy shows (beating 2014 winner Chris Menzies who held the previous record of 158 shows).

Announced at Special Events held during the final week of the Festival, Awards were presented to: Will McKenna – Class Clowns, Angus Gordon – RAW Comedy and Nina Kirby – Deadly Funny.

While the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival officially closes today – Sunday 19 April, the jam-packed Comedy Roadshow kicks off in Bundoora (VIC) and Charters Towers (QLD) on Wednesday 22 April, visiting more than 74 towns and cities across Australia through to July. For more information, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.

Image: Sam Simmons – photo by Jim Lee Photo (www.jimleephoto.com)

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