47 stand-ups to see at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Our pick of the microphone-wielding stand-up comedians at this year's Fringe
Aisling Bea: Plan Bea
This excitable Irish comic has barely been off the telly over the past two years. In 2014 she won a British Comedy Award, her debut Edinburgh show was nominated for the Best Newcomer prize, and now she’s following it up with more motormouth stories.
Alex Edelman: Everything Handed to You
Alfie Brown: -Ism
Easily one of the bravest voices on the comedy circuit right now. Alfie Brown unapologetically tackles difficult topics with profound intelligence and wit. In ‘-Ism’ he’s getting angry about people getting angry about things without analysing what we’re angry about… (presumably with analysis).
Alun Cochrane: A Show with a Man in it
This Absolute Radio star was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Perrier Awards back in 2004 and since then has popped up on all the panel shows. We like to call Cochrane the ‘everyman philosopher’, because his no-nonsense meditation on everyday things is just plain funny.
Beth Vyse: As Funny as Cancer
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.
Brett Goldstein: Burning Man
Goldstein expertly mixes thought-provoking ideas about weighty topics with a riveting yarn. Sex (or, more specifically, our increasingly sexualised world) is often his subject of choice, and it pops up again in this tale about his trip to Burning Man.
Bridget Christie: A Book for Her
2013’s Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner just keeps getting better and better. Christie recently launched her first book – ‘A Book For Her’ – based on her feminism-fuelled stand-up. This show’s celebrates her literary debut with 50 minutes of new material and a ten-minute book signing.
Ed Gamble: Lawman
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.
Felicity Ward: What If There Is No Toilet?
Stand-up. Festival favourite.
Not many comics can mine their own personal traumas and neuroses and turn them into upbeat, optimistic stand-up, but Felicity Ward manages it. This year, the Australian comic delves deeper to examine her own depression, anxiety and IBS. Expect dark laughs and poo jokes.
George Egg: Anarchist Cook
George Egg’s been on the circuit for two decades, but he’s finally making his Fringe debut. The baldy comic cooks up a three-course meal using only equipment found in hotel rooms – an iron, trouser press, coathangers etc – live on stage. With jokes, of course.
Harriet Kemsley: Puppy Fat
Heidi O’Loughlin: A Woman Talking
This low-key, offbeat Kiwi storyteller bagged a Barry Award Best Newcomer nomination at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. She’s been supporting DIY-comedy favourite Josie Long on tour, and if you enjoy Long’s bashful storytelling you’ll be a fan of O’Loughlin’s in no time.
Ismo Leikola: Observing the Obvious
Ismo Leikola’s one of the biggest comedians in Finland, and his English-speaking comedy career is really taking off. He won US comedy club chain The Laugh Factory’s ‘Funniest Person in the World’ competition last year, and now he’s back in Edinburgh with his offbeat, rug-pulling observations.
James Acaster: Represent
James Acaster needs no more recommendations from us. He’ll sell out his sizable venue without a problem, and will undoubtedly receive a flurry of great reviews, but this list would feel incomplete without him. Acaster’s been nominated for the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award three times now. Could 2015 be the year he finally wins it? If you’ve never seen him before, a) you’re a fool, and b) buy a ticket right now.
Joel Dommett: Conquer
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!
John-Luke Roberts: Stdad-Up
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.
John Robins: Speakeasy
Stand-up. Festival favourite.
Fans of John Robins and Elis James’s XFM radio show (and podcast) will be on the look out for references to Freddie Mercury, being ‘on email’ and session ales in the Robins’s new show. Our suggested itinerary for a truly John Robins evening (in his own list form): Ales! Ales! Robins! Laughs! More laughs! Ales! Rum and diet coke! Taxi! Bed! (Of course, those who haven’t listened to their radio show will enjoy ‘Speakeasy’, too – Robins is a mightily talented storyteller.)
Jonny Pelham: Before and After
Debut solo show from this sharp-witted rising star, who’s been hotly tipped for a few years now – we picked him as one of our favourite new acts in 2014. Expect autobiographical stories about his teenage years (which weren’t that long ago – he’s only 23.)
Katherine Ryan: Kathbum
Stand-up. Off the telly.
If you want to see Katherine Ryan’s brand new show at the Edinburgh Fringe, stop reading this immediately and book a ticket – her run’s pretty much sold out already. This is your first chance to catch ‘Kathbum’ before it heads out on tour this autumn.
Kyle Kinane: Ghost Pizza Party
Liam Williams: Bonfire Night
Liam Williams is one of the most intriguing stand-up talents out there right now. His highly intelligent, angsty material often criticises our politically disengaged society while highlighting his own political impotence, and his resulting internal struggles. Fascinating and funny in equal measure.
Lou Sanders: Excuse Me, You’re Sitting on My Penis Again
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.
Matthew Crosby: Smaller Than Life
The unofficial frontman of podcasting sketch trio Pappy’s is also a delightful solo stand-up. Sure, his show won’t change your life (his Fringe brochure entry reads ‘come along, have a chuckle or two, leave, never really think about it again’) but he’s an irresistibly charming, very funny performer to spend an hour with.
Matt Winning: Mugabe and Me (3D)
Michael Che: Six Stars
Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon, Chevy Chase… They’ve all been anchors of ‘Weekend Update’ – the most famous segment of ‘Saturday Night Live’. The latest name to join that list is Michael Che, a 32-year-old New York native who’s quickly becoming a big deal across The Pond. Che’s in demand over there (he was briefly a correspondent on ‘The Daily Show’, too), so catch him in Edinburgh while you can.
Mike Wozniak: One Man Dad Cat Band
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.
Nish Kumar: Long Word… Long Word… Blah Blah Blah… I’m So Clever
Stand-up. Festival favourite.
Nish Kumar’s quickly becoming one of the most reliably funny stand-ups at the Fringe – we awarded his 2014 show the full five stars. He’s both embracing and mocking his own intelligence this year, tackling weighty political subjects with his deliciously sarcastic wit.
Pat Cahill: Panjandrum
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.
Paul Sinha: Postcards From the Z List
Fans of teatime TV might recognise Paul Sinha as one of the sardonic ‘chasers’ on ITV game show ‘The Chase’. He’s just as smart a stand-up as he is quizzing champion. This is his first Fringe show for four years. Expect dry opinions and skilfully told stories.
Peter Brush: Older Than the Oldest Dog That Ever Lived
This neurotic newcomer might seem unassuming and twee, but there’s a sharp comedic mind behind his low-key persona. Brush reached the final of the BBC New Comedy Awards a couple of years back, and now he’s making his Edinburgh debut with his understated tales and unexpected punchlines.
Phil Jerrod: Neanderthal
Rhys James: Remains
Stand-up. Second show.
24-year-old stand-up and Twitter favourite Rhys James is on devilishly sharp form at the moment. He’s white, middle-class and male, there’s been no pain or struggle in his life – and that’s exactly his problem. What can he talk about that’s unique and different? See him (seemingly) struggle in ‘Rhys James Remains’.
Ronny Chieng: Chieng Reaction
Ronny Chieng is refreshingly aloof. Rather than try desperately to charm us over, he simply focuses his energy into slashing apart life’s annoyances with a no-nonsense bravado. Born in Malaysia and based in Australia, he’s becoming a big deal Down Under, selling out 2000-seat venues at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
Sam Simmons: Spaghetti for Breakfast
Sean McLoughlin: Whatever It Takes
Laugh at Sean McLoughlin’s pain. He won’t mind. The 27-year-old stand-up’s tales are full of misery and despair as he looks for the humour in his bleak, skint lifestyle. Although he’s doing quite well these days – he appeared on ‘Russell Howard’s Stand-Up Central’ earlier this year and has been supporting Katherine Ryan on tour. Can he retain his self-loathing with his new-found success?
Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap
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.
Stewart Lee: A Room With a Stew
Stuart Laws: Who Said Anything About Stopping It? (1 Hour Show)
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.
Tats Nkonzo: The African With Wi-fi
The South African stand-up scene is starting to gain traction, thanks partly to the success of new ‘Daily Show’ host Trevor Noah. Guitar-wielding comic Tats Nkonzo is the latest SA comic to take his act international, aiming to debunk any stereotypes us Westerners might have about African life.
Tiernan Douieb: The World’s Full of Idiots, Let’s Live in Space
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.
Trevor Noah: Lost in Translation
Just three chances to catch this South African star, and it could be his last trip to Edinburgh for quite a while. Trevor Noah blew us away in 2012 with his Fringe debut, ‘The Racist’. Since then, he’s been making a name for himself in the States, and has now landed a job as host of ‘The Daily Show’, taking over from Jon Stewart. Pretty. Big. Deal.
The Wonderful World of Lieven Scheire
Big scientific theories and ideas explained with wit and charm by this Belgium-born comic. Lieven Scheire has his own hugely popular TV shows in his home country, and this is his Edinburgh Fringe debut. If you’re a fan of Robin Ince’s science-comedy hybrid shows or ‘QI’-type facts, Scheire’s a safe bet.
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