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Physical comedy triumphs at Edinburgh Comedy Awards

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Doctor Brown, with his show Bedfrdfgh at Underbelly has become the first non-speaking comedian to win the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards.

The best newcomer award went to Daniel Simonsen for his show Champions. The 2012 panel prize was awarded to another silent comic, Sam Wills, who performs as The Boy with Tape on His Face for his show More Tape. Both shows are at the Pleasance.

Doctor Brown is the stage persona of American performer Phil Burgers. He told The Stage: “[Winning the award] gives me more of a green light to do what I want to do. I think if people are really appreciating it and recognising it, so this makes sense, this has value so you keep going.

“If you don’t have anyone backing you up then it is kind of hard to believe in your path.”

Burgers studied clowning with French practitioner Philippe Gaulier and this is his sixth year on the fringe. In 2011, he also brought a children’s comedy show which he has been developing over the year as Doctor Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger.

Comparing the two shows, he told the Stage: “They are the same. With the adult show you have to do some more tricks to get them – but the spirit of it is the same, it is all play and silliness.”

Norwegian comic Daniel Simonsen first came to prominence in 2008 when he won the So You Think You’re Funny award. He has come back every year since, but this is the first year that he has done a full hour show.

He told The Stage: “The money is the best thing, because I am a struggling artist, so that is an immense help. Winning is a bit intimidating, to be honest, because I am still learning to be a stand-up comedian. This award won’t turn you into a great stand-up, that has to come from you, trying to figure it out.”

The panel prize celebrates a show or individual who has most captured the originality and comedy spirit of the Fringe. Commending New Zealander Sam Wills, head of the awards Nica Burns outlined his association with the fringe since appearing as a street performer in 2007 and meeting his wife while trying to put his body through a tennis racquet.

This year saw a record 536 different comedy shows eligible for the three awards.