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Wherever luvvies and journalists come together, a progeny of awards is the inevitable result. The Edinburgh award scene can feel as crowded as the Festival itself, and the competing statuettes clamour for attention with ever more striking names - the Herald Angels, the Golden Cockerel, or the Triumphal Aspidistra (OK, we made the last one up).

Two awards, though - the Edinburgh Comedy Awards and the Fringe Firsts - are a country mile ahead in name recognition, and can have a genuine life-changing impact on the shows and performers blessed by their respective juries.

 The sundry awards are released at varying times throughout the length of the Festival, and you're sure to hear the buzz when a show picks one up. But it is worth remembering that - by definition - a show can't arrive at the Festival with any of these gongs in its bag. References in programmes to "Fringe First winning authors" are certainly a good sign, but they're talking about a previous work at the Festival. 

Edinburgh Comedy Awards

Edinburgh's most famous awards are the Edinburgh Comedy Awards - sponsored this year by beer brand Foster's. Previously known as the Perrier Awards and then, briefly, as the if.comedies, the Comedy Awards are designed to award "upcoming" new comedians; acts who have already made it big are barred from consideration.

A judging panel visits every single eligible comedy show during the first couple of weeks of the Fringe, and then - rather like the Oscars - announces its nominations. The effect on the nominated acts is immediately stratospheric, and you'll need to get in quickly if you want to get a ticket for a newly-announced nominee. The actual award feels almost like a footnote, as it comes in a special show at the very end of the Fringe: it makes a nice enough finale, but it's far too late to influence anyone's choice of shows.

Fringe Firsts

For theatre, the rough equivalent of the if.comedies are the Fringe First awards, now over 30 years old. They too reward innovation, and to be eligible for a Fringe First, a play must be brand new - and entirely original.

Fringe Firsts are awarded by respected newspaper The Scotsman, in partnership with the Fringe, and there's no fixed number: they simply give out as many as they feel are warranted this year. They also release them as and when they feel like it, so it's more than possible to choose a play on the strength of a Fringe First picked up earlier in its run.

Other awards

Similar - if less well-known - awards are handed out by Glasgow newspaper The Herald, thespian publication The Stage, website FringeReview and a whole range of other media outlets besides. These don't make quite the same splash as the if.comedies or Fringe Firsts, but they're all sincerely awarded and worth bearing in mind.

A recent innovation, the Fringe Sell-Out logo is awarded to shows or performers which genuinely sold almost all their tickets during a previous Fringe run. You'll see it on posters and flyers, and it's your guarantee that this is a "major" act in Fringe terms - though of course, all those people could still be wrong. The copyrighted logo was introduced to combat a growing tendency for shows to advertise a "total sell-out in 2009" when, in fact, they had simply sold out for one night of the run, perhaps when they stuffed the auditorium full of their family and friends.

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Edinburgh 2013

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