HE HAS already written more than 2,500 gags – but has only just performed his first full-length Fringe show.
Now a new quick-fire comic has claimed one of the most coveted prizes of the festival from “the king of the one-liner”.
Darren Walsh, a former animator-turned-funnyman, has walked off with the annual honour for the funniest joke at the Fringe.
He topped the eighth annual poll of viewers of TV comedy channel Dave with his joke: “I just deleted all the German names off my phone – it’s Hans free.”
Walsh, 39, has toppled Tim Vine, a two-time winner of the award, after an expert panel of judges scoured around 600 shows for the best gags.
However Walsh, whose show Punderbolt is playing at the Pleasance courtyard, told The Scotsman that he believes his brand of comedy is still seen as unfashionable at the festival.
Vine, who is not appearing at this year’s Fringe, became the first comic to win the prize for a second time last year with his gag: “I’ve decided to sell my Hoover… well, it was just collecting dust.”
Walsh, 39, who took up stand-up just five years ago, said: “This is fourth year at the Fringe, but the first time I’ve been here with a full hour-long show.
“I’ve been on the Free Fringe and shared bills with other comics before, so it’s all kind of been building up to this year. The trick was always going to be how to do puns and one-liners over the course of an hour.
“I don’t think puns are back in fashion yet. I think people generally prefer longer, more digestible comedy, which is what you see a lot more of on TV these days. My show is a bit different from Tim Vine’s as there are quite a lot of silly video sketches and audio skits.
“There is quite a bit of audience interaction as well, so it’s not just someone standing there reeling off a load of puns.
“I ask the audience to come up with a subject. For example, if they were to suggest bricklaying, I will say, ‘I might have a job mixing cement next week. Nothing concrete’.”
Walsh beat off a host of well-known comics to the honour, including Simon Munnery, Alun Cochrane, Mark Nelson and Stewart Francis, a previous winner of the prize.
Walsh has used his fellow comics to inspire some of his gags, coming up with puns for more than 180 who are listed in the official Fringe guide.
But as a virtual unknown in Edinburgh he has had to rely on old-fashioned flyering to bring in a crowd – but with a twist.
He added: “When I’m selling my show to people I will give them a pun. If they laugh I give them a flyer. If they don’t laugh I don’t bother.
“There are people walking around at the Fringe who just want to take a punt – no pun intended. I think it’s good to try to meet the audience on the street and tell them about the show.
“My friend was in the queue for the show the other night and heard someone saying, “I think there are puns in it, I don’t know.’ The show’s called Punderbolt. What do I have to do?
“The Fringe definitely works better if you have a bit of a profile – at least people know what they are coming to the show for. It can be a like a maths test to set up punchline after punchline – it can be quite tiring.
“I’ve been going to bed early every night and spending the next day promoting the show and doing other spots. In previous years I’ve enjoyed myself a lot more, but this year it’s felt more like a job.”
Dave’s funniest joke award is open to both established and up-and-coming comics at the Fringe. Each comedy critic on the judging panel submitted five nominations each for best and worst joke, with an estimated 3,600 hours of material viewed over the space of two weeks. More than 2,000 viewers of Dave chose Walsh’s gag as the winner.
Steve North, the channel’s general manager, said: “The Fringe is renowned for being the best place to spot new and emerging comedy talent, and although there are some returning contenders in our top 10 this year, there’s a high volume of new talent, which is very exciting.”
Dave’s Top 10 funniest jokes from the Fringe Festival 2015
1 - I just deleted all the German names off my phone. It’s Hans free - Darren Walsh
2 - Kim Kardashian is saddled with a huge arse... but enough about Kanye West - Stewart Francis
3 - Surely every car is a people carrier? - Adam Hess
4 - What’s the difference between a ‘hippo’ and a ‘Zippo’? One is really heavy, the other is a little lighter - Masai Graham
5 - If I could take just one thing to a desert island I probably wouldn’t go - Dave Green
6 - Jesus fed 5,000 people with two fishes and a loaf of bread. That’s not a miracle. That’s tapas - Mark Nelson
7 - Red sky at night. Shepherd’s delight. Blue sky at night. Day - Tom Parry
=8 - The first time I met my wife, I knew she was a keeper. She was wearing massive gloves - Alun Cochrane
=8 - Clowns divorce. Custardy battle - Simon Munnery
10 - They’re always telling me to live my dreams. But I don’t want to be naked in an exam I haven’t revised for... - Grace The Child