The biggest comedy festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe, has just wrapped up for another year and now you can catch its performers in London. We pick the best of the fest heading to our capital (so far).
The Fringe favourites
There were plenty of festival stalwarts traipsing around Edinburgh this year, from laidback iconoclast Stewart Lee to high-octane Irishman Jason Byrne. For pure easygoing charm, Joe Lycett is hard to beat. His latest, puntastically titled ‘That’s The Way, A-Ha A-Ha, Joe Lycett’ (Duchess Theatre, Nov 23 and 30), features plenty of cheery tales of lighthearted pranks and small victories that get big laughs. And Bridget Christie’s latest, ‘A Book for Her’ (Leicester Square Theatre, Nov 16-Dec 2), is another triumph that tackles the Tory government, comments on civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal, and contemplates the future careers of right-wing comedians.
The Aussie invaders
If you’ve travelled halfway across the globe to play the Edinburgh Fringe, you might as well tag on some London shows, eh? There was an abundance of Aussies at this year’s fest and lots are heading to our city. Best of all is Sam Simmons. He’s long been a champ of the bizarre, but this year the moustachioed comic allows us a glimpse behind his surrealist guise in ‘Spaghetti for Breakfast’ (Soho Theatre, Sep 22-Oct 10), and it’s exhaustingly funny. Fringe newbie Zoe Coombs Marr (Soho Theatre, Sep 1-12) made her debut as her alter ego, Dave. Billed as a ‘stand-up drag parody’, Coombs Marr’s creation sharply satirises lazy, sexist comedy with a mix of hilariously hack jokes and exaggerated stand-up tropes. It’s a big in-joke, but a very funny one. Tom Ballard’s making waves Down Under, and his debut, ‘Taxis and Rainbows and Hatred’ (Soho Theatre, Sep 14-19) impressed Edinburgh crowds too. It’s a joke-packed exploration of society’s attitudes towards gay people and comes with a strong underlying message.
The breakthrough stars
The festival’s most impressive comedy show this year was undoubtedly Joseph Morpurgo’s ‘Soothing Sounds for Baby’ (The Invisible Dot Ltd, Oct 5-24): a rich, multilayered, multimedia character comedy experience based around a faux episode of ‘Desert Island Discs’. It’s silly, playful, sinister in parts and lodges in your mind long after it’s finished. Adam Hess’s first solo show (Soho Theatre, Sep 23-26) is a lot more straightforward – oddball one-liners mixed with stories of his childhood – but it’s relentlessly entertaining. The 26-year-old comic flies through tales at a breakneck speed with a sugary energy that suggests he’s never really grown up. Daphne (The Invisible Dot Ltd, Nov 30-Dec 5) were the buzziest sketch troupe of this year’s fest. The trio – made-up of stand-up Phil Wang, actor Jason Forbes and ‘friend-of-a-friend’ George Fouracres – have a relaxed dynamic and a bunch of warped, innovative skits. And that’s only a handful of highlights. There’s plenty more where that came from.