Edinburgh Fringe comedy highlights 2013: top ten big names and festival favourites

Our pick of the TV regulars and reliable Fringe favourites at the world’s biggest arts festival
1/10
John Lloyd – Liff of QI Easily one of the talks of this year’s festival will be legendary comedy producer and behind-the-scenes man John Lloyd, finally stepping into the limelight with his stand-up debut. Lloyd’s one of the brains behind ‘Blackadder’, ‘QI’, ‘Spitting Image’, and oh so many more British comedy institutions from the past 30 years. Expect fascinating stories from his decades in the business, and plenty of quite interesting facts. See John Lloyd in Edinburgh at Underbelly, Bristo Square, Jul 31-Aug 24 (not Aug 13), 4.40pm
2/10
Tony Law – Nonsense Overdrive If you’re a first time reader to the Time Out comedy pages, firstly: shame on you, and secondly: you’ll know we constantly bang on about this high-octane Canadian comic. Mr Tony’s currently speeding up the comedy ranks after receiving a nomination from the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2012, and we’d put money on him selling out huge venues in the years to come. Believe us when we say there’s no better way to start your day (we’ll stop rhyming now) than with a dose of midday lunacy from Tony Law. See Tony Law in Edinburgh at The Stand Comedy Club, Aug 1-26 (not Aug 12), 12.40pm See Tony Law's viking quiz See our interview with Tony Law
3/10
James Acaster – Lawnmower A fellow 2012 Foster’s Award nominee, Kettering-born stand-up and Radio 4 regular James Acaster is quickly becoming a reliably brilliant Fringe favourite. He’s an understated, slightly whimsical storytelling comic, looking at everyday scenarios with an offbeat slant. He just keeps getting better and better, and we’re sure ‘Lawnmower’ is going to be turf-rific. See James Acaster in Edinburgh at Pleasance Courtyard, Jul 31-Aug 25, 7pm See James Acaster's 2013 goals for 2013
4/10
Nick Helm – One Man Mega Myth Another dose of high-octane hilarity from the unstoppable comedy force that is Nick Helm. This year, the gruff-voiced shambles is in a much bigger venue and is promising a show that’s totally epic. Expect ambitious, emotionally unstable songs, poems and general awesomeness. Every Nick Helm show is a cracker. See Nick Helm in Edinburgh at Pleasance Courtyard, Jul 31-Aug 26 (not Aug 7 or 14), 4pm See our interview with Nick Helm
5/10
Adam Buxton – Kernel Panic Adam Buxton – aka Dr Buckles, aka the ‘Adam’ half of ‘Adam and Joe’ – has been hosting the BFI’s hugely popular ‘Bug’ shows for years. But now he’s going properly solo in one of the festival’s biggest venues (albeit for just four nights). In the show, Buxton will be opening up his MacBook Pro, delving into intriguingly titled desktop folders and showing gloriously silly short films. Oh, and of course, he’ll be reading out the angry, badly-spelt YouTube comments viewers have left under his videos. See Adam Buxton in Edinburgh at Assembly Hall, Aug 2-Aug 5, 10.30pm See our interview with Adam Buxton
6/10
Claudia O’Doherty – Pioneer This quirky Aussie was slowly gaining a loyal, cult following in Edinburgh for her quaint, geeky, lo-fi shows ‘Monster of the Deep 3D’ and ‘What is Soil Erosion?’. But at last year’s festival she hoisted up the comedy ranks after being nominated for the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award for her super-inventive piece of ‘difficult theatre’ that goes wrong: ‘The Telescope’. This year, the buzz surrounding this delightfully offbeat comic is even bigger, thanks to the announcement that her new show, ‘Pioneer’, is being directed by bearded comedy god Daniel Kitson. Pretty big deal. All eyes on O’Doherty, then… See Claudia O'Doherty in Edinburgh at Pleasance Courtyard, Jul 31-Aug 26 (not Aug 12), 9.50pm See our 'One to watch' on Claudia O'Doherty
7/10
Simon Munnery – Fylm Munnery is something of a Fringe veteran. He was nominated for the Perrier Award way back in 1999, and he’s consistently produced some of the most innovative shows in Edinburgh. For 2013, he’s following up last year’s hit ‘Fylm-Makker’ with ‘Fylm’. The master surrealist will be showcasing more tricks with his contraption that allows him to project live animations onto a screen on stage, while he’s sat in the audience. Confused? Just head to the Stand and all will become clear. See Simon Munnery in Edinburgh at The Stand Comedy Club, Aug 1-Aug 26 (not Aug 12), 3.40pm
8/10
Alexei Sayle He officially returned to stand-up 18 months ago, but this year the godfather of alternative comedy (or ‘inventor’, as he would say) is finally bringing his first solo show in 17 years to the Fringe. He’s on top form too; the tight suit’s disappeared, but he’s still as energetic and ranty as ever. See a true comedy legend return to his roots. See Alexei Sayle in Edinburgh at The Stand Comedy Club III & IV, Aug 13-Aug 25 (not Aug 19), 6pm See our interview with Alexei Sayle
 (© Idil Sukan)
9/10
© Idil Sukan Abandoman – Moonrock Boombox Multi-award winning hip hop improv masters Abandoman have two Fringe runs under their belts already. But this year they’re ramping things up and mooving (sorry) to the massive purple cow, the Udderbelly, in the Bristo Square. We reckon ‘Moonrock Boombox’ is going to be the party show of the festival – the duo are performing with a full live band and using the history of hip hop as the basis for their astonishingly impressive improvised raps. Yeah, boi! See Abandoman in Edinburgh at Underbelly, Bristo Square, Jul 31-Aug 26 (not Aug 12 or 19), 8.45pm
10/10
Sean Hughes – Penguins Former ‘Buzzcocks’ team captain and ‘Sean’s Show’ star had a triumphant festival last year, performing two shows: one rock-solid hour of top-notch stand-up, and a more theatrical, touching, storytelling show about the ridiculousness of life and death. This year’s offering, ‘Penguins’, is set to be somewhere in between; moving yet uplifting. He’s a bona fide Fringe favourite, and a master stand-up. See Sean Hughes in Edinburgh at Gilded Balloon Teviot, Jul 31-Aug 25, 7.30pm
By Ben Williams |
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The hot new talents and transatlantic visitors are all very well, but, ultimately, the Fringe is about just having a good laugh, eh? Step forward the recognisable faces and festival favourites. We’ve whacked these two groups together, highlighting the best of the big-name acts – including Adam Buxton and Alexei Sayle – and reliable regulars – like Tony Law and Nick Helm – into one easily-manageable top ten. Start scrolling…

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