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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

By Ben Williams
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.

Aisling Bea
© Karla Gowlett

Aisling Bea: Plan Bea

Stand-up. Award nominee. Second show.

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.

9.30pm, Gilded Balloon.

Alex Edelman
© Will Bremridge

Alex Edelman: Everything Handed to You

Stand-up. Award-winner. Second show.

It’s the ‘difficult second show’ for last year’s Best Newcomer winner, as this smart-arsed American comic speaks directly to the twentysomethings. His neurotic tales and observations are unfailingly funny.

8.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

Alfie Brown
© Mark Dawson Photography

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).

7.20pm, Assembly George Square Theatre.

Alun Cochrane
© Avalon

Alun Cochrane: A Show with a Man in it

Stand-up. Off the telly. Award nominee.

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.

6.30pm, The Stand Comedy Club.

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.

Brett Goldstein
© Idil Sukan Draw HQ

Brett Goldstein: Burning Man

Stand-up. Storytelling.

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.

9.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

Bridget Christie
© Idil Sukan Draw HQ

Bridget Christie: A Book for Her

Stand-up. Award-winner.

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.

11am, The Stand Comedy Club.

Darren Walsh

Darren Walsh: Punderbolt

Newcomer. Stand-up.

Silly puns, visual puns, animated puns, musical puns, groan-worthy puns… Puns galore, basically, from this one-liner slinging comedy giant (he’s 6' 8") in his debut full-length show.

8.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

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.

Felicity Ward
© Steve Ullathorne

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.

9pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

George Egg

George Egg: Anarchist Cook

Stand-up. Newcomer.

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.

2.45pm, Gilded Balloon.

Harriet Kemsley

Harriet Kemsley: Puppy Fat

Newcomer. Stand-up.

Harriet Kemsley’s one of the Fringe debuts we’re most excited about this year. Her scatterbrained stories, jokes and endless list of worries are a constant source of laughs. She’s an anxiety-ridden mess, and that’s why she’s so funny.

5.45pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

Heidi O'Loughlin
© Edward Moore

Heidi O’Loughlin: A Woman Talking

Stand-up. Storytelling. International.

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.

7.40pm, Underbelly Cowgate.

Ismo Leikola

Ismo Leikola: Observing the Obvious

Stand-up. International.

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.

4pm, Gilded Balloon. (Aug 7-15 and 22-30 only.)

James Acaster
© Edward Moore

James Acaster: Represent

Stand-up. Award nominee. Festival favourite.

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.

8.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

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.

John Robins
© Steve Ullathorne

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.)

8pm, Assembly George Square Studios.

Jonny Pelham
© Karla Gowlett

Jonny Pelham: Before and After

Newcomer. Stand-up.

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.)

6.45pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

Katherine Ryan
© Idil Sukan Draw HQ

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.

4.25pm, The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4. (Aug 6-16 and 18-22 only.)

kyle kinane press 2014

Kyle Kinane: Ghost Pizza Party

Stand-up. International.

This Illinois-born stand-up (and a favourite of our friends at Time Out Chicago) makes his Edinburgh Fringe debut. Kinane’s gruff-voiced, laid-back tales come packed with intricate jokes and a pleasing mix of intelligent and goofball humour.

10.10pm, Underbelly Cowgate.

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.

Matthew Crosby

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.

7.40pm, Just the Tonic at The Mash House.

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.

Michael Che
© Phil Provencio

Michael Che: Six Stars

Stand-up. International. Off the telly.

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.

7.40pm, The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4. (Aug 6-20 only.)

Mike Wozniak
© Idil Sukan Draw HQ

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.

Nish Kumar
© Idil Sukan

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.

7.15pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

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.

Paul Sinha

Paul Sinha: Postcards From the Z List

Stand-up. Award nominee. Off the telly.

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.

5pm, The Stand Comedy Club.

Peter Brush
© John Devine

Peter Brush: Older Than the Oldest Dog That Ever Lived

Stand-up. Newcomer.

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.

6.55pm, Just the Tonic at The Community Project.

Phil Jerrod

Phil Jerrod: Neanderthal

Stand-up. Newcomer.

Another Edinburgh Fringe debut we’re excited about. You could say Phil Jerrod is a bit of an overthinker. His eloquent rants – where multilayered jokes and highbrow references are packed into each line – deconstruct life’s petty woes.

7pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

Rhys James
© Edward Moore

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’.

4.45pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

Ronny Chieng

Ronny Chieng: Chieng Reaction

Stand-up. International. Second show.

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.

7.20pm, Underbelly Cowgate.

Sam Simmons
© Mandee Johnson Photography

Sam Simmons: Spaghetti for Breakfast

Stand-up. Award nominee.

Full-on lunacy from this twice Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee. Simmons’s shows are batshit crazy, and ‘Spaghetti For Breakfast’ is no exception. But this year, among the silliness, he’s taking us down a more personal route.

9pm, Underbelly Potterow.

Sean McLoughlin
© Edward Moore

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?

8.15pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

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.

Stewart Lee
© Graham Whitmore

Stewart Lee: A Room With a Stew

Stand-up. Festival favourite. Off the telly.

Another show that’s a book-right-this-second-if-you-don’t-want-to-be-disappointed deal. Slee’s been workshopping these new routines (that will eventually become the next series of his ‘Comedy Vehicle’) for months and months.

2.15pm, The Assembly Rooms.

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.)

Tats Nkonzo

Tats Nkonzo: The African With Wi-fi

Stand-up. International.

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.

9.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard.

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.

Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah: Lost in Translation

Stand-up. International. Off the telly.

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.

10.30pm, Assembly Hall. (Aug 28-30 only.)

Lieven Scheire

The Wonderful World of Lieven Scheire

Stand-up. International.

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.

3pm. Gilded Balloon.


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