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17 free comedy shows to see at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Our top pay-what-you-can comedy picks at this year's festival

By Ben Williams

Pay whatever you think the show's worth at these unticketed Fringe shows. Or, for some venues, you can reserve a seat in advance for a fiver.

RECOMMENDED: 74 comedy shows to see at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Adam Hess
© Edward Moore

Adam Hess: Salmon

Newcomer. Stand-up. Free.

It’s about time Adam Hess performed a full-length solo show. He’s been on the circuit for five years, experimenting with different styles – from frantic one-liners to childish stories. Expect gag-packed tales.

5.20pm, Heroes @ The Hive.

Ali Brice

Ali Brice presents: Eric Meat Has No Proof, Only Memories of Pasta

Character comedy. Second show. Free.

Joyfully stupid character comedy in this performer’s second solo show. Eric Meat – Brice’s central character – is a sweet, romantic, heartbroken fool, and he’s joined by a host of idiotic pals.

1.30pm, Heroes @ The Hive.

Beth Vyse

Beth Vyse: As Funny as Cancer

Stand-up. Storytelling. Free.

Can cancer be funny? Beth Vyse changes tack from her usual loony character comedy and turns to autobiographical storytelling in her latest offering. Vyse was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28, and this is the story of how is changed her life.

4.20pm, Heroes @ The Hive.

Ed Gamble
© Idil Sukan Draw HQ

Ed Gamble: Lawman

Stand-up. Off the telly. Free.

You might’ve seen Ed Gamble’s impressive acting and improv skills at work on E4’s mockumentary series ‘Almost Royal’. He’s a terrific stand-up, too. This year, Gamble’s focusing on his love of rules, and why following them is way cool. Couldn’t agree with you more, Ed.

1.15pm. Canons’ Gait.

Joel Dommett
© Matt Crockett

Joel Dommett: Conquer

Stand-up. Free.

Dommett’s been on the circuit for a good eight years now, and has matured into a reliably funny (and, we think, underrated) stand-up. He’s an engaging, excitable storyteller, has charm by the lorry-load and knows exactly how to structure a show so that you leave with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your belly. And you can see him for free!

9pm, Laughing Horse @ The Counting House.

John-Luke Roberts

John-Luke Roberts: Stdad-Up

Stand-up. Character comedy. Free.

Last year smart absurdist John-Luke Roberts tackled break-up comedy shows in his ‘not-a-break-up-show’ comedy hour about breaking up with his girlfriend. This year, he’s both performing and subverting the award-judges’ favourite comedy genre – family bereavement – in a silly show about the death of his father.

6.55pm, Voodoo Rooms.

© Nathan Edwards

LetLuce in Sea Men (A Naval Tale)

Clowning. Sketch comedy. Free.

This madass double-act – made up of LAMDA graduates Letty Butler and Lucy Pearman (see what they did with their name, there?) – submerge themselves in this underwater adventure. Part ‘The Little Mermaid’, part ‘The Mighty Boosh’.

4pm, Just the Tonic at The Caves.

Lou Sanders

Lou Sanders: Excuse Me, You’re Sitting on My Penis Again

Stand-up. Festival favourite. Free.

This disjointed, offbeat talent just keeps getting better and better – her scatterbrained stories and stupid ideas are ludicrously funny. This year’s show focuses on Sanders’s attempts to nab a place at Eton College for Boys, despite not being a boy.

5.30pm. Laughing Horse @ City Café.

Mark Stephenson

Mark Stephenson: Amsterdam

Stand-up. Second show. Free.

We’re big fans of his downbeat stand-up who remains upbeat despite his pessimism, and undermines his intelligent thoughts with stupid jokes. This year Stephenson turns to confessional storytelling in ‘Amsterdam’.

2.20pm, Banshee Labyrinth.

Matt Winning

Matt Winning: Mugabe and Me (3D)

Stand-up. Newcomer. Free.

Offbeat one-liners, strange observations and pure silliness from this young Scottish comic in his Edinburgh debut. We were already excited about seeing Winning’s solo effort, but after he made this classy trailer we’re even more pumped.

3.45pm, Opium.

Mike Wozniak

Mike Wozniak: One Man Dad Cat Band

Stand-up. Award nominee. Free.

Do you want a cat? Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated stand-up Mike Wozniak has become the accidental owner of one, as he reveals in his new show. The ‘Man Down’ star’s mix of fidgety outrage, elegantly-phrased tales and unbelievable facts is a real treat.

1.15pm, Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters.

Pat Cahill
© Edward Moore

Pat Cahill: Panjandrum

Stand-up. Musical comedy. Free.

If we had to be trapped in an underground bunker with any comedian (big ‘if’) we would choose Pat Cahill. Strangely enough, that’s exactly what happens in Cahill’s new show. The upbeat worrier has turned wartime entertainer, donning an ‘old man’s helmet’ to perform music hall-esque songs.

6.40pm, Heroes @ The Hive.

Sofie Hagen
© Karla Gowlett

Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap

Stand-up. Newcomer. Free.

This Danish stand-up has been making a name for herself on the circuit since moving to London a few years ago, reaching the final of practically every new comp and bagging Chortle’s Best Newcomer gong in 2014. She’s an engaging stand-up, weaving serious topics with stories of her verging-on-stalkerish Westlife obsession.

7.10pm, Liquid Room Annexe.

Spencer Jones as The Herbert

Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job

Clowning. Free.

Prop comedy isn’t hip, right? Especially when delivered by a Spandex-clad man with a bowl haircut, yeah? How wrong you are (and what specific questions you ask.) Spencer Jones’s goofball clowning and strange homemade puppets are pure, feel-good silliness.

9pm, Heroes @ The Hive.

Stuart Laws
© Ed Moore

Stuart Laws: Who Said Anything About Stopping It? (1 Hour Show)

Stand-up. Free.

This rising talent is only performing a short, week-long run (he also wants a holiday, apparently), but we still think he deserves to be in this list. Laws has developed into a confident, chronically funny stand-up. His offbeat stories and non-observations are a lot of fun.

3.50pm, Cabaret Voltaire. (Aug 8-15 only.)

Tiernan Douieb

Tiernan Douieb: The World’s Full of Idiots, Let’s Live in Space

Stand-up. Free.

Despite being a Tory-bashing shouty grump, Tiernan Douieb somehow manages to remain one of the more friendly (and upbeat) comics on the circuit. This is his first Edinburgh show in four years, and since his last Fringe he’s really found his voice as a passionate political comic with an increasing intolerance for rude, ignorant people. We’re with you, Tiernan.

2.30pm, Liquid Room Annexe.


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