A Scottish comedian is in the running for the most coveted award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time in more than two decades.
Richard Gadd, one of the hottest tickets on the free Fringe in recent years, is one of the eight contenders for the Edinburgh Comedy Awards prize.
The Fife comic spends the majority of his show Monkey See, Monkey Do – described as a deeply intense and personal exploration of masculinity and anxiety – running on a treadmill.
Gadd has built up a cult following on the Fringe thanks to a decision to stage his shows in the tiny Banshee Labyrinth venue off the Cowgate.
Despite being a relative unknown on the Fringe, Gadd has already landed work with both Channel Four and the BBC, but is performing his show in a tiny 40-seater room.
Gadd, 26, from Wormit, is the first Scot to be nominated for the best comedy show prize at the Fringe since Phil Kay and Parrot were both in contention in 1993. Scott Gibson is the first Scot nominated for best newcomer since fellow Glaswegian Kevin Bridges in 2009.
Gadd, whose audiences see him being pursued by a man in a gorilla suit, said: “My show is about a very real monkey I’ve had on my back for years. The whole idea with the treadmill is that I’m running away from that monkey. You find out why it’s chasing me and it all links to a traumatic experience in my life.
“I like to think of myself as someone who bushes the boundaries of what comedy can be. The show mixes all kinds of different forms, including theatre and performance art, but fundamentally it’s just comedy. I like to think there are laughs from start to finish, but there are moments of seriousness in amongst them.”
Awards director Nica Burns said this year’s shortlist was the most international in the 36-year history of the contest, which has propelled the likes of Frank Skinner, Sean Hughes, Stephen Fry, Steve Coogan and Lee Evans to fame.
Also in contention are Irishman Al Porter and three Australian acts – Tom Ballard, puppet show Randy Writes a Novel and Zoe Coombs Marr, the only woman to make the shortlist.
The other three contenders are James Acaster, nominated for the fifth year in succession, Kieran Hodgson and Nish Kumar. The £10,000 prize, announced on Saturday, is only open to performers who appear in venues with a capacity under 500.