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Seven must-see comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe

Written by
malcolm jack

Your laughter muscles duly rested by a diet of Dostoevsky and Adam Sandler movies throughout the early summer, you’ll be ready and crying out by now for the comedic onslaught of the Edinburgh Fringe. Everywhere from street corners to enormo-venues, you’ll find all kinds of people vying to make you think they’re the most hilarious thing since internet videos of cats, be they stand-ups, sketch troupes, improvisers, absurdist performance artists or just plain freeform weirdoes. Let us help you sort the funny hahas from the funny hows by highlighting six shows we think will be definite winners this Fringe, from promising up-and-comers to senior stars.

Katy Brand: I Was a Teenage Christian
Long before her critically-acclaimed Big Ass Show for ITV and subsequent sidestep into novel writing, Katy Brand (pictured) was literally a teenage Christian who attended church four times a week between the ages of 13 and 20, doing her utmost to put the “fun” into fundamentalism. An autobiographical solo show on that subject heralds Brand’s very welcome return to live comedy for the first time since 2010, as she relives seven years of being “an obnoxious, self-important dick”, albeit one who at least knew she was going to heaven. If heaven is a three-week run of daily shows at the Pleasance, then truly she has made it.

Pleasance Courtyard, until August 29 (not 15), 4.45pm

Burnistoun Live at the Fringe
Glaswegians go where no true Glaswegian goes willingly: 50 minutes east on the train to that snobby posh place with the big castle. Iain Connell and Robert Florence’s hit BBC Scotland sketch show Burnistoun is coming to Edinburgh for its Fringe debut, after a sell-out run on home turf at the Glasgow Comedy Festival earlier this year. Join much-loved characters including Jolly Boy John, deranged ice cream seller siblings Walter and Paul, quality polis McGregor and Toshan and the internationally renowned voice recognition lifts for a crowd-pleasing shuffle through new material and old favourites.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, until August 14, 6pm and 9pm

Josie Long and Martin Williams: Investigations
An acclaimed and much-loved staple Fringe stand-up and social change campaigner teams-up with a broadsheet investigative journalist for a show mixing reportage and gags. It all sounds very unlikely, but in the hands of the irrepressible Josie Long, together with The Guardian’s Martin Williams, you suspect it’ll work a charm. Think a revealing look at stories you don’t tend to read about in the news, with added jokes for a bit of levity. If you also want a little of Long in her more natural environment of straight stand-up, she’s performing a work-in-progress show at The Stand in parallel with this one.

The Stand, August 16-28, midday

I Don't Believe it! An Evening With Victor Meldrew
Believe! The grumpiest man on British television Victor Meldrew of ‘One Foot In The Grave’ fame – as very memorably played by veteran Scottish actor Richard Wilson – is back. This Fringe coup will see a live re-staging of one of the acclaimed tragi-comic show’s most legendary episodes, 1993’s ‘The Trial’, which made TV sitcom history by becoming the first to feature exclusively just one actor and character throughout. Wilson will reprise his role as the cantankerous Meldrew, as he spends a day home alone while on call for jury duty, tackling a difficult crossword and contemplating his various ailments among other mundane things. Wilson will then take questions from the audience.

Assembly Roxy, August 16-28 (not 22), 5.30pm

Sofie Hagen: Shimmer Shatter
It’s unclear why winning the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer in 2015 hasn’t added up to a slightly better billing 12 months on for Sofie Hagen than a Free Fringe show at a minor venue. But hopefully it’ll help her pack out the room every evening of a long run, on her way to much bigger and better things. The London-based, Danish comedian and podcaster – who claims to have perfected her English and gained valuable people skills in her previous life as a teenage Westlife obsessive – charmed the pants off crowds and critics alike last year with a sharp and clever show using the boyband-stalking follies of her youth as a mechanism for exploring her anxieties in the grown-up world. Now for the follow-up. No pressure or anything, Sofie.

Liquid Room Annexe, August 6-28, 7.50pm

Daphne’s Second Show
Also returning for a difficult second year is 2015’s most buzzed about new sketch outfit, the off-kilter Daphne, AKA Cambridge Footlights contemporaries Phil Wang, Jason Forbes and George Fouracres. Daphne Do Edinburgh earned them a solid round of four-star write-ups. The matter-of-factually titled Daphne’s Second Show promises more of the same, which is to say intentionally awkward jokes, OTT slapstick and mixed-nuts dynamic between the performers which really shouldn’t work but quite clearly does.

Pleasance Courtyard, until August 28, 5.45pm

Simon Munnery: Standing Still
If you do nothing else in Edinburgh this August, make it paying tribute to one of the most tirelessly silly stalwarts of this whole annual comedic crapshoot, as surrealist genius Munnery appears for his 30th year at the Fringe with a show that promises “an opening to die for, seven wry observations, a tone poem, four fresh skits and two new commandments”. Were that not enough, there’s also a one-off gala show planned in honour of Munnery’s three decades on the Fringe at The Famous Spiegeltent on August 22, where he’ll be joined by his comic creations Alan Parker: Urban Warrior, Buckethead and The League Against Tedium plus a plethora of friends and very special guests.

The Stand, until August 29, 4pm

Keep even more entertained at the Fringe with our pick of five of the best circus acts this year.

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