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Meet the very-online comics set to shake up this year’s Edinburgh Fringe

Leila Navabi, Coco Sarel, Tatty Macleod and Ania Magliano are the sizzling hot new faces of comedy. They welcomed us in for a chat before they travel up to Scotland

Three people sitting in a kitchen
Photograph: Jess Hand / Time Out
Photograph: Jess Hand / Time Out
Chiara Wilkinson
Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

We’re in a house share in Stoke Newington and ‘Padam Padam’ is blasting from a Bluetooth speaker. It’s early. It’s drizzly. And it’s exactly one month until the start of the Edinburgh Fringe. For the comics heading up, it’s one month until their lives could, potentially, be changed forever.  

Leila Navibi is in the bedroom wearing an ‘I Heart Boy’ vest (she’s ‘very gay’) and stompy Doc Martens, baring her teeth as she frolics around making tiger faces. Outside, Ania Magliano is schmoozing about in her dressing gown, sipping a steaming brew from a supersize Sports Direct mug. Down in the kitchen, Coco Sarel looks like she’s about to head to a particularly boujee brunch, wearing feathery leopard-print PJs accessorised with a bowl of alphabetti spaghetti. Then, there’s Tatty Macleod: an image of a 1950s shampoo advert as she poses elegantly with a fag in the slightly mouldy bathtub. The whole thing is like a dreamland Edinburgh Fringe houseshare – except not so chaotic, with significantly less flyers and nowhere near as expensive. 

Leila, Coco, Tatty and Ania will be joining hundreds of other comedians filling the nooks and crannies of the Scottish capital from August 4 until 28. The Fringe is a costly and exhausting undertaking for any artist – but whenever we ask the fresh-faced comics about the (many) shortcomings of the festival, there’s a rare optimism in the air. It’s an opportunity to perfect their craft, shake up the status quo, meet other comedians and – for those comics who found fame by going viral – to get used to performing in front of an IRL audience. How will they fare in the flesh of the largest performing arts festival in the world? We caught up with them before the madness began. 

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Ania Magliano  

A girl watering a plant in the garden
Photograph: Jess Hand / Time Out

The 25-year-old comic has supported Ed Gamble and Cat Cohen, written for Amelia Dimoldenberg's ‘Chicken Shop Date’, and sold out the entire run of her new show, adding three extra dates. The bar is high – Time Out described her 2022 Fringe debut as ‘sharp, poised, and deadpan hilarious’– but for Ania, it’s all in the name of practice.

I had a YouTube channel when I was, like, 15. I think I was trying to do a version of stand-up. Then, I worked at Assembly at the Edinburgh Fringe and watched loads of comedy. I was like: that’s what I should be doing.  

I get more of a buzz doing comedy live. If I’m in a room and I hear a laugh, it feels more amazing than getting a video getting 15,000 views.

I did Edinburgh for the first time last year. My show was setting up who I am: I’m this age, I’m a bisexual, I’ve worked in Lush.

Having a sold out show was a dreamy experience, but my brain soon found new things to be worried about. Luckily, I had enough people around me to be like: ‘Grow up, it’s going well’. 

Coming up with the new show definitely felt harder, initially. Last year, I packed 24 years of life experience into one hour. Now, I won’t even have lived another year. 

If I’m in a room and I hear a laugh, it feels more amazing than getting a video getting 15,000 views

A bad haircut was the jumping off point for this one. It’s representative of all of the bad haircuts I’ve had in my life. 

Last year, I was living like a monk. I had an incredibly boring Edinburgh: I didn’t go out, I would try to keep my sleep schedule manageable. Drinking gives me such bad anxiety that I don’t think I would have coped.  

I’m living with three other comedians up there, one who I’m in a relationship with. It’s really fun to live with a group of comics for a month. Everyone’s quite funny. 

I can’t imagine a time past August, just yet. I just want to be better at making shows that are funnier and more compelling. Besides, I might have run out of life experience by 2024 – I’ll have to do something incredibly impulsive in January.

‘I can’t believe you’ve done this’ is at Pleasance Courtyard, 4.35pm, August 2-13 and 15-27.

Tatty Macleod 

A girl in a bath tub
Photograph: Jess Hand / Time Out

With her statement bubblegum pink hair, Tatty Macleod has gained a healthy online following with her witty, comparative videos about French and British cultural differences. Her debut hour, ‘Fugue’, is an autobiographical show where she considers the pitfalls of cultural appropriation and adaptation. 

Before the pandemic, I was working as a tour guide, taking people around Windsor, Stonehenge, Paris and Buckingham Palace. Then I was spending five nights a week doing open mics around London. 

From March 2020 until June 2021, I had a long time to contemplate not going back into being a performer. I was really in that headspace where I was like: this has just been too hard. When do you seriously give up?

I started making videos online and that completely changed my career. It took a good ten videos before I did one that actually got any real views or likes, when I finally hit on this French versus English character. 

What might have felt like a niche audience when you’re in a city, feels much wider online. You’ve got access to the whole world. I found many people share my perspective of feeling like a fish out of water.  

Three people in a living room
Image: Time Out

I’m not an influencer – I’m a comedian, who accidentally became an influencer. I’m able to be really picky about who I work with because my page is primarily about comedy and I have multiple income streams. 

Someone got in touch with the day about advertising knickers with a padded bum you can wear when you cycle. I’m not saying that doesn’t have its utility, but I don’t want to be the face of chicken fillet bums. 

Edinburgh is the sun of the comedy world, around which the entire year revolves. It’s all pre-Edinburgh, post-Edinburgh, in the build up to Edinburgh. But to a lot of my online followers, Edinburgh’s not relevant. 

When you get older, the Fringe becomes more of a professional endeavour. I can’t do four hours of flyering a day, then my show, then sleep on a bed on the floor of a room with three people. You need to do what you need to do in terms of self care to make that month manageable for yourself.

‘Fugue’ is at Monkey Barrel Comedy, 2.10pm, August 2-14 and 16-27. 

Coco Sarel

A person doing the washing up
Photograph: Time Out / Jess Hand

You may well recognise Coco Sarel from your TikTok’s For You Page, where she regularly posts her zingy, relatable rants about ‘Love Island’ and ‘Love of Huns’. This year, she’s up in Edinburgh to host ‘Knock, Knock’ – a showcase with other TikTok comedians – along with the likes of Henry Rowley and Ayamé Ponder. And you can bet she’s excited for an IRL audience. 

I started doing dances with my little sister on TikTok during the pandemic. They were quite embarrassing, like the Doja Cat one. Don’t ask me if I can still remember them.

The app is like a vacuum, you get sucked in. The more I saw, the more I wanted to add to the conversation. A lot of my content began being political because of where in the world at the time. 

The first time I got 30,000 views, I thought: I can’t leave the house tomorrow, this is intense. I just carried on making videos and now we’re in Edinburgh. 

For a really long time, I've struggled to call myself a comedian. I’m not just a comedian or presenter or content creator, I’m a bit of everything. 

 I never want it to come across that just because people comment ‘lol’ on my videos, I must be a really good stand-up comic 

I draw on all of the experiences I’ve been through. My family is chaotic. I grew up in a Christian-African household. Both my parents are balmy. I’m the oldest of four. There’s always a whirlwind around. 

The chaos follows me in the best way possible. Now, I talk about a lot of dating antics. Love Island debriefs. Pop culture. If something fascinates me, I get hyper-fixated on it – like the [Titanic] submarine. 

I’m excited about challenging myself at the Fringe and learning. I never want it to come across that just because people comment ‘lol’ on my videos, I therefore must be a really good stand-up comic. 

There’s a big difference between Tiktok and a live audience. When I post online, I don’t give room for laughter: I just send it into the abyss. In real life, you feel that dead space. 

I’m scared of hyper-visibility. Sometimes it dawns on me that if a video has two million views, that’s two million human beings. Imagine if they were all in the room with you watching you talk for a minute and a half?

‘Knock, Knock’ is at the Cabaret Bar, Pleasance Courtyard, 4pm on August 2-27. 

Leila Navabi

A girl posing like a tiger on a bed
Photograph: Jess Hand / Time Out

Leila Navabi isn’t too gassed about the idea of the Fringe – but she’s still here, still doing it, nevertheless. Having written for ‘Bad Education’ and ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’, Leila has dusted herself off and is ready to step into the limelight. Her new show is a punk musical-comedy in which she talks about being Welsh, brown, gay and Gen-Z – and about the ‘dubious ethics’ of artistically exploiting marginalised identities. 

Anywhere in Wales feels like home. I live in Cardiff and travel to London two or three times a week. It gets exhausting, but it’s not as exhausting as it was when I was living in London, trying to keep up with paying rent.

I started out as a comedy fan and became obsessed with the craft. As a teenager living in London alone, going to free comedy gigs was an easy way for me to socialise.

The Fringe is like a playground – for the rich, white elite. I’m excited to be a bystander  and birdwatch people partake in this fake chasm they created for themselves. It is entertaining.

Comedy has been built on the harassment, bullying and diminishing of people. I don’t think we need to do that anymore and I’m excited to see if we can change it. But, ultimately, we’ve already all spent way too much money and time doing this, which is part of the problem.

Platforms like Tiktok and Instagram reels have given us an audience without having to step foot in a comedy club. That can be a place that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable or appreciated. 

We’ve already spent way too much money and time doing the Fringe, which is part of the problem

If people can enjoy comedy from their own bedroom, they might feel safe to dip their own toe in. I think that it’s a really beneficial thing for this industry. 

I used to be scared of being perceived as a gimmick of some sort. But ultimately, I think my comedy is aided by the music I write.

Previously doing TV writing has really forced me to look at myself as a character that I’m writing for. We’re so used to writing for other people’s voices, it can be quite hard to find your own. Now, I know what I want to say and how I should say it. 

I expect to come back from the Fringe as a better comedian, which is very boring. There’s only really one place in the world where you can do your show every single day of the week, for a month. 

This year, I’m staying out in Bathgate, in a one bed flat, to save money. I think it’s going to be good to have that space outside of the city centre, to breathe away from this shiny balloon of industry.

‘Composition’ is at The Attic, Pleasance Courtyard, at 9.45pm on August 2-10 and 12-27.

Photography: Jess Hand; design director: Bryan Mayes; photo editor: Laura Gallant; stylist: Kiera Liberati; assisted by: Collene Weekes; hair: Laura Chadwick; make-up: Levi-Jade Taylor.

Tatty Macleod: Look 1: dress - New Look, shoes - Di Minno. Look 2: top - Boy London x Playboy, skirt - model’s own.

Leila Navabi: Look 1: jacket and suit - Boy London x Playboy, shirt - Primark. Look 2: vest - Boy London x Playboy, tie - stylist’s own, shorts - model’s own, chain - stylist’s own, boots - Doc Martens.

Ania Magliano: Look 1: shirt - Primark, vest - Boy London, trousers - Monsoon. Look 2: shirt - Boy London x Playboy, socks - Primark, shoes - Russell and Bromley, dressing gown - stylist’s own.

Coco Sarel: Look 1: dress - ASOS, shoes - Topshop, rings - Katherine James Jewellery. Look 2: top and trousers - Nadine Merabi, earrings - Club L, bracelets - Cernucci, rings - Katherine James Jewellery.

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