LAURA Solon, making her debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, has been named the winner of Britain's top comedy honour, the Perrier Award.
The 26-year-old is only the second woman to win the accolade since it was founded in 1981. The prize for Perrier Best Newcomer went to Australia's Tim Minchin.
In her show, Solon played eight characters, ranging from "the Festival Bookworm" to "Borgesia the Polish story teller" who had a quirky take on Aesop's fables.
The Perrier Award director, Nica Burns, said Solon had been discovered in an out-of-the-way venue, the Holyrood Tavern, to become the surprise winner on the award's 25th anniversary.
She said: "Laura is an extraordinary writer and performer who will become a major star. Let us hope that in the next 25 years, a woman winner of a comedy award will not be an unusual event."
A former BBC comedy writer, Solon, 26, put together her show, Kopfrapers Syndrome, in only three weeks, after splitting from her writing partner.
Last night, she said she was overwhelmed to have won such a prestigious award.
"I am so glad I came to the festival and did a show. I never even expected to be shortlisted, never mind win. I am so overwhelmed I haven't been able to sleep. I am going to take a few days off now to decide what I'm going to do next after all this."
Meanwhile, the comedian Arthur Smith, 50, who had been due to be recognised for his lifetime achievement at the Perrier Awards explained why he had turned the honour down.
He said: "Comedians rather dislike the Perrier Awards and the public aren't interested.
"Basically, they wanted to tell me I was old and cool; well, I know that already and, anyway, my ego is bloated enough."