Edinburgh Festival Fringe has something for everyone but with so much to choose from, how can you narrow it down? Here are a few highlights in several categories to help you choose… You can find part 2 here.
Mixing laughter with music, these comedy and cabaret shows will have you tapping your toes and humming a tune as well as having a good giggle.
After 10 years in the music biz (and a memorable run on The Voice), Jordan Gray has suddenly become one of the UK’s most exciting and celebrated rising comics.
Jordan brings together her love of superheroes, her strong Essex roots, and her life as a transgender woman in an hour of raucous comedy that resonates within and beyond the LGBTQIA+ community.
The UK’s hottest transgender comedian takes on babies, boobies, bigots and Batman. It’s big, silly, witty, sexy, and fun: Jordan bares all (literally).
Jordan Gray: Is It a Bird? Assembly George Square (The Box), 10.25pm 3 – 28 August (not 17) www.assemblyfestival.com
Australian comic, Grant Busé takes his audience on a trip to the past: equally celebrating and mocking the never-ending nostalgia assaulting our modern senses. It’s a nostalgia-extravaganza, a music-fuelled deconstruction of our selective memories. Drawing on nostalgia from so many places, whether it’s caring for his Tamagotchi, the lessons Grant learnt from Sex and the City, or why he loves the dial-up internet tone. Grant delves deep into our collective lust for childhood comforts and teenage treasures.
Grant Buse: SentiMENTAL Gilded Balloon, Teviot (Nightclub), 8:30pm, 3 – 29 August (not 15) https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/
Lurching between the silly and funny and the dark and ominous, The Failure Cabaret brings modern topics to life, embracing them through good, old-fashioned sinister vaudevillian charm.
The Fremonts have been married for ten years and they have the therapy bills to prove it. In this dark comedy cabaret they use original music to tell their story of meeting, accidentally moving to a pretentious mountain town and doing everything in their power to stay sane and married at the same time.
The Failure Cabaret Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Laugh), 9:05pm 4 – 28 August (not 16) www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/
Characters a plenty
Want more than a one on one show. How about some with more characters than you can shake a stick at? And if you’re not careful the stick will become a prop.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the woods… Edinburgh Fringe Best Newcomer nominees, Crybabies return with their new creation: Bagbeard. A sci-fi infected narrative sketch adventure about finding home, forbidden love, monsters, mystery and massive regret.
Set on a strange forgotten island, erstwhile science teacher Chris Mystery (not Christmas Tree) discovers an alien creature from a faraway universe and must conceal it from the baying townspeople and Terminator-esque government agent, Victor Valentine. E.T meets The Wicker Man meets Harry meets Sally in this boundlessly absurd and heart-warming story.
Crybabies: Bagbeard Pleasance Done (10 Dome), 5.50pm, 3 – 28 August (not 15) www.pleasance.co.uk
Set in a sexless afterlife, Anything is yours for the taking as long as you don’t try to have sex or undertake any kind of performance. Sex is off the menu, and even the smallest display of jazz-hands is strictly prohibited, but this is still paradise, and everyone is happy. Or are they?
A wild ride through musical numbers, quick changes and wigs galore. Characters include a failed actress, an artisanal d***o maker, a talking v**ina that writes beat poetry and a dead divorce enthusiast who organises a sex conference… The afterlife is on the brink of collapse.
Horseplay: Bareback Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Dancer), 10.30pm, 4 – 28 August (not 16) www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/
With grotesque, mysterious and maniacal characters this is a high camp, high energy, comedy whodunnit, based on the infamous murder case of Lizzie Borden. Could a woman really be capable of such a heinous crime?
With an ensemble cast including Buffy’s Tom Lenk, it’s a show filled with innuendo, double entendre and sexual depravity in it’s queer feminist retelling of a story that has become a firm favourite of the true crime genre. But did Lottie Platchett actually take up a hatchet?
Lottie Platchett Took a Hatchet Assembly Roxy (Upstairs), 8:35pm 4 – 27 August (not 17) www.assemblyfestival.com
Mixing improv and audience led content, these shows can’t be the same twice.
A comedy homage to everything from Star Trek to Galaxy Quest starring a supergroup of members of Mischief, Showstopper! and Austentatious, boldly going where no improv comedy has gone before. Headlining at a fans’ convention, the actors of CELESTIA 7 share memories of everyone’s favourite episodes. The Improv superstars create an episode inspired entirely by audience suggestions while the “actors” offer commentary. Each show is a stand alone episode AND recurring characters will develop relationships throughout the run. Audiences can return to multiple shows to catch up with favourite characters and all the gossip that has happened
Starship Improvise Pleasance Dome (King Dome), 3pm, 6 – 21 August (no day off) www.pleasance.co.uk
In this riotous twist on a much-loved classic; after the actor playing Ernest in the Oscar Wilde famed farce, fails to arrive on cue, an audience member is quickly cast in the lead role. But what should have saved the show, instead sets off a hilarious chain of events that, one-by-one, renders the rest of the cast unable to continue their performances. As more audience members are encouraged to step into the spotlight, led backstage for costume and make-up, urged to write poems, paint portraits, chant mantras, and do whatever’s needed to help the show go on, an absurd controlled madness ensues
The Importance of Being… Earnest? Pleasance Courtyard (Beyond), 1.30pm, 3 – 28 August (no day off) www.pleasance.co.uk
Inspired by the gameplay of Dungeons and Dragons, this hilarious adventure is never the same tale twice as audience members control the story from the palm of their hands. Choose your heroes, battle monsters, and solve riddles to influence the narrative as it unfolds. This adventure is suitable for audiences eight and up and is destined to delight everyone from hardcore fans of D&D to those just dipping a toe into the world of role-playing games. Laughter flows like ale and the story is in the audiences’ control as they choose the characters, the paths and the hilarious hijinks.
The Twenty-Sided Tavern Pleasance Dome (King Dome), 4:30pm, 3 – 28 August (not 15) www.pleasance.co.uk
Online & Social Media Stars
The stars of Youtube, Tiktok got us through lockdown. Now we’re back out in the world and the viral stars are back out here with us. See them live without a screen between you.
They perform to sold out crowds in NYC and LA and their online videos have amassed over 50 million views. They’ve been nominated for an Emmy, named Variety’s Top 10 Comics to Watch, have written for Saturday Night Live and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, made a pilot for Comedy Central, wrote a time travel movie for Lionsgate, and recently sold a TV show they can’t talk about yet but they would still like you to ask about it. Their two-person sketch show is a hyper-paced, meticulously crafted, manic whirlwind of joy and chaos. For everyone who wants to feel smart and silly at the exact same time.
BriTANicK Assembly George Square (The Box), 7:45pm, 3 – 28 August (not 17) www.assemblyfestival.com
Making her Edinburgh Fringe debut, US comedian and actor, Kylie Brakeman emerged as one of the pandemic’s most popular online comedians with over 60 million views and 400k followers across her social platforms. She was named one of New York Times’ 21 Great Performers of 2020 (Zoë Kravitz, Ethan Hawke, Viola Davis, Cristin Milioti, Andy Samberg and Cher graced the same list ) Linda Hollywood: a recently cancelled high strung agent who’s been alive for 300 years is gracing Edinburgh with her presence to present a night showcasing her favourite A-List celebrity friends (with characters from the low-key to the frenetically energetic, all played by Brakeman).
Kylie Brakeman: Linda Hollywood’s Big Hollywood Night Gilded Balloon, Patter Hoose (Nip), 7.00pm. 3 – 28 August (not 17) https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/
Marcia Belsky’s musical comedy was featured on Comedy Central’s Taking The Stage, including her hit song 100 Tampons which has now amassed over 40 million views on TikTok. Jake Cornell has been featured by Vogue, hosted Finish The Hit for Billboard Magazine and has been seen on Logo TV, College Humor, and MTV News. Man & Woman is a two-person comedy play parodying heterosexual love and all the “incisive and compassionate” films that have dissected relationships through the male gaze. What happens when a man and a woman stage one of the worst shows of all time, fully confident that they are about to empower all of womenkind? In a show-within-a-show
the two explore gender politics and hacky storytelling through the eyes of writers who think they are truly brilliant but may in fact be quite dim.
Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky: Man and Woman Assembly George Square (Studio 4), 6:15pm, 3- 28 August (not 17) www.assemblyfestival.com
With several viral internet hits and appearances on Mock The Week under his (vegan leather) belt, ABK is thrilled to return to Fringe. He predicts that 2022 will be the year of hard-hitting, uncompromising whimsy. His YouTube spoofs now have millions of views, sure. But he learned to do stand-up first, so Nevermore is a real show with jokes and everything. Alasdair’s previous show was among the statistically best-reviewed shows of 2019, which is simply science and a matter of record.
Out of the swirling maelstrom he steps, his sword of jokes, his shield of mischief and his armour made of a third amusing thing. It is silly, faintly mystical and does not (at the time of going to press) feature any ravens.
Alasdair Beckett-King: Nevermore Pleasance Dome (JackDome), 7:00pm, 3 – 29 August (not 22) www.pleasance.co.uk
You can find Part 2 of our guide here