Edinburgh 'Comedy Gods' return for Stewart Lee show

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Stewart Lee
Image caption,
Stewart Lee said the campaign had been a "weird accident"

The little-known act which is currently leading the public vote for the Edinburgh Fringe "Comedy God" award has made a triumphant return to the city.

Comedian Stewart Lee brought Frank Chickens onto the stage in front of a packed crowd at the Festival Theatre.

The Edinburgh Comedy Awards, formerly the Perriers, are in their 30th year and new sponsors Foster's launched a vote to find an all-time "comedy god".

Lee's e-mail rant against the award went viral.

About 100,000 people, 50% of the vote, have so far chosen the obscure Anglo-Japanese act over household names such as Michael McIntyre, Eddie Izzard, Lee Evans and Jimmy Carr.

There is just over a week before the award, which is open to all the acts nominated for the Fringe award since 1981, is announced.

Lee, who has been appearing in Edinburgh since 1987, said the Fringe should be about "art for art's sake".

He told BBC Scotland: "It should not be about attaching a brand to a high-profile celebrity."

But Lee, who as the writer of Jerry Springer The Opera is used to controversy, said he did not intend to launch a campaign.

He said: "I literally sent one e-mail when I was annoyed by the competition.

"I don't have a twitter account or blog or anything like that.

Image caption,
Kazuko Hohki's Frank Chickens are leading the public vote

"Then it kicked off and hundreds of thousands of people have been voting for Frank Chickens as all time comedy god.

"The first thing I did was to try to get in touch with them to apologise, in case they had been pushed into something they did not want to be part of."

Kazuko Hohki, lead member of Frank Chickens, told BBC Scotland she was "amused" by all the attention.

She said the group, which currently has 14 members, was a collection of Japanese "misfits" who sought her out in London.

Hohki said she did not understand stand-up comedy, mainly because her English lanaguage skills were not good enough to listen to someone talking for an hour.

She said Frank Chickens were not comedians, they are a band of performance artists.

Hohki, who said that the Chickens only performed a handful of times each year, said she would be very pleased to pick up the award if they were to win.

"We have a saying in Japanese," she said.

"Dumpling from the shelf - It is something than runs over you without you expecting it or knowing it even existed.

Lee, whose Festival Theatre show was launching his new book How I Escaped My Certain Fate, added: "The interesting thing about communication these days is that when some big company blunders into something without really thinking about it there is the possibility now for the public to voice their annoyance, which never used to exist."

"I think increasingly you are going to get large swathes of the public saying. Let's just wreck this."

The Foster's Comedy Awards will be announced on 28 August.