The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is rapidly approaching and, with 2017 marking its 70th Anniversary, expect some big celebrations this year.
If you have never been before, the sea of posters that appear to adorn every spare inch of the historical city and the army of street teams handing you copious amounts of flyers every few steps you walk, can seem most overwhelming. Last year saw 3,269 shows, with 50,266 performances in 294 venues. There really is something for everyone, but how do you choose what to see?
Having spent many years at the Fringe as a comedy agent and promoter, here are my top ten suggestions of comedy shows to see this August. There are so many more fantastic acts worth catching so I suggest you download the Edinburgh Fringe Festival app, for every listing. Some of the names you may recognise from The Hospital Club’s Comedy Surgery over the last four years, but there are some new acts here too and a good mix of Free Fringe and paid ticketed shows for good measure!
My Top 10 Picks
(In alphabetical order to avoid any favouritism!)
Adam Kay – ‘Fingering A Minor on the Piano’
A very recent booking at Comedy Surgery, Adam Kay reprises his acclaimed 2016 show for two weeks only, singing 'bracingly intelligent, enormously funny songs' (The Times) in the key of A minor. Kay was a doctor before he turned to musical comedy and he'll tell you all about it in this raucously funny and at times, poignant show.
Alasdair Beckett-King – ‘The Alasdair Beckett-King Mysteries’
Winner of Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2017 (previous winners include Rhod Gilbert, Jason Manford, Jonny Vergas and Josh Widdecombe to name but a few) Alasdair Beckett-King debuts his much anticipated solo show which opens a cabinet of curiosities, tackling the conundrums of impending extinction, archaic axioms, emotional repression and vegan flimflam. Tipped as ‘one to watch' (Time Out), don’t miss this rapidly rising star.
Dane Baptiste: G.O.D. (Gold. Oil. Drugs.)
Original, provocative and exceptionally prolific, Dane returns to the Fringe with a show about our worldwide pursuit of wealth, power and pleasure. Baptiste made comedy history in 2014 as the first Black British act to be nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award. 'Observational comedy at its finest' (Independent). As seen on Live at the Apollo (BBC Two), Tonight at the London Palladium (ITV1), Mock the Week (BBC Two), Live from the BBC (BBC Two), 8 out of 10 Cats (Channel 4) and his own BBC sitcom, Sunny D.
Daniel Sloss – ‘Now’
New show from internationally acclaimed, award-winning Scottish comedian and star of Conan (a record seven appearances), Daniel Sloss has performed nine sell-out Edinburgh’s, two solo off-Broadway seasons, released a DVD, gave a TEDx Talk (aged 19) and tours extensively throughout UK, Australasia, USA and Europe. Sloss is a Festival highlight. ‘Dirty, sweet and clever’ (New York Times). ‘Endearingly unabashed... hilarious... Intelligently and ironically calling out the hypocrisy of human nature’ **** (Herald Sun).
Harriet Braine – ‘Total Eclipse of the Art’
2016 Funny Women Stage Award Winner, So You Think You're Funny? Finalist and Winner of Best Newcomer at The Musical Comedy Awards, Harriet presents her debut hour of funny songs about the great and good of the art world. Get ready to laugh, learn and loudly proclaim ‘I knew that one! He's the one what done the Mona Lisa!’ Aren't you clever!’ If you like amusing accents, bizarre characters, a woman making trumpet noises (with her mouth), and 1980s one hit wonders, you'll love this. No prior reading required, all materials provided.
Leo Kearse – ‘I Can Make You Tory’
Are you sick of sanctimonious lefties lecturing you about global warming, Jeremy Corbyn, and sexism? Award-winning comedian Leo Kearse slaughters these sacred cows with razor sharp wit and shows that it's right to be right wing. You'll leave the show a fan of nuclear power, capitalism and voting Tory! 'A giant of the art' (Chortle.co.uk). 'Kearse is seriously good. Quick, funny, smart and to the point... hilarious' (Scotsman).
Matt Forde – ‘A Show Hastily Rewritten in Light of Recent Events – Again!’
The UK's leading political comedian and host of Unspun (DAVE) presents a show completely changed by events, which haven’t yet happened. Ultra-topical comedy as seen on The Royal Variety Performance, Mock the Week, The One Show and Question Time. Now with added Trump. 'Possibly the best political comedy show on the Fringe' ***** (Telegraph).
Simon Evans – ‘Genius’
Ever since he was a small boy, all Evans really wanted was to be recognised by the world as a man of genius. He has, until now, remained thwarted. The world seems increasingly indifferent to true genius of any kind, let alone Evans's. Endlessly distracted by the trivial, we allow the classical tools of grammar, logic and rhetoric to lie unregarded in the shed of consciousness, rusting to a picturesque hue that would actually look really great on Instagram. But which filter? Hmmm... 'Super-sharp wit' (Time Out). 'Wields language like a rapier' (Scotsman).
Stephen Bailey – ‘Can’t Think Straight’
Following his sell-out debut tour and appearances on ITV’s Safeword, Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Side and W’s Celebrity Advice Bureau, everyone’s favourite ‘guilty pleasure’ (Daily Record) returns with another of his infamous gossips. Join Stephen, support for Katherine Ryan on her UK tour, as he tackles everything from celebrity culture to politics, and from dating to working-class family life. ‘He has charisma, he has his own style, he has a wicked line in material and the ability to go off-piste with crowd work that is achingly funny’ **** (One4Review.co.uk).
Tape Face – ‘The Best of Tape Face’
The best of Tape Face and more. The multi award-winning show returns to the Fringe for potentially the last time. It's still good and now it's bigger and better. Get involved and when it’s all over you’ll be completely lost for words. Google it. Total sell-out, Fringe 2010-2013. As seen on the Royal Variety Performance (ITV). 'Endlessly inventive, hysterically funny' ***** (Time Out). 'Simply joyous' ***** (The Times).
Comedy Surgery returns on 21st July with Edinburgh previews from Alasdair-Beckett King and Matt Ford. Book your spot here.