I want to see… some improvised comedy and theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe

Improvised comedy and theatre has been a growing feature at the Edinburgh Fringe: “Improv comedy” is the classic format where performers respond to audience suggestions. On offer are improvised sketch shows, improvised musicals, novels, murder mysteries, game shows, Shakespeare, sci-fi, storytelling and a lot more. There is also a smattering of more serious improvised theatre and drama. FringeReview’s Paul Levy has been exploring improvisation for many years.

Here is his take on the topic.

So, what would you like to see at this year’s Fringe? Here’s our helpful guide based on recommendations from our review team…

I want to see…


… some classic format improv comedy based on audience suggestions. Then see Absolute Improv!

… some improvised Sherlock Holmes. Then see Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes

… some late night improvised comedy. Then see Anxiety Club

… some sci-fi improv comedy based on Doctor Who. Then see Any Suggestions, Doctor? The Improvised Doctor Who Parody

… an old fringe favourite – an improvised Jane Austen novel at lunchtime. Then see Austentatious

… some anarchic improv. Then see Bad Clowns: Cult Classic

… an early afternoon  improvised comedy murder mystery (always a hit at Brighton Fringe). Then see CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation

… some afternoon free-style improvised stand-up comedy. Then see FreeStyle Comedy: Improvised Stand-Up

… some competitive improv comedy – “Two teams will battle it out for the biggest laughs with quick-witted gags, games, sketches and songs inspired by your suggestions.” Then see ComedySportz UK

… lunchtime improvised Shakespeare. Then see Impromptu Shakespeare

… some high energy improv – a “high-octane mix of impossible challenges and incredible feats of daring”. Then see BattleActs!

… a free improv show, an improvised comedy adventure. Then see Ben Van der Velde – Fablemaker

… some evening competitive comedy improv that pits two improv teams against each other, with the audience declaring the winner. Then see Improv Cage Match

… some improvised theatre – a two-hander. Then see Between Us

… family friengly improv – award-winning comedians and improvisers telling  extravagant stories, all based on The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Then see The Extraordinary Time-Travelling Adventures of Baron Munchausen

… some different comedy that uses improv – a semi-improvised sketch show. Then see Brain Rinse

… some late afternoon improvised Enid Blyton. Then see Bumper Blyton


… some child-friendly (3+ to 11), improvised storytelling. Then see The Bureau of Untold Stories

… a twisted, gothic musical tale inspired by Tim Burton and the Brothers Grimm. Then see Happily Never After

… an acclaimed comedian who will argue the opposite of anything anyone in the audience says. Then see Chris Betts vs the Audience

… some genuinely different late night improvised comedy. Then see Conversation Garden on Love Island (A Decide Your Own Misadventure)

… an anarchic improv night in which four comedians (one detective and three suspects) have to investigate a grisly murder. Then see Criminal

… improvised science fiction – “You create a superhero and we’ll create a fully improvised Marvel blockbuster full of dizzying action sequences, special effects and a live score.” Then see Improvengers: Pretendgame

… an improvised and hilarious computer adventure game. Then see The Dark Room (For Kids!) and see the adult version, John Robertson: The Dark Room

… an improv show from Chicago – an improvised show in which personal, sometimes hilarious (but always true), heartfelt stories are told from the perspectives of a real life mom, dad and daughter. Then see A Family Affair (or also see an entirely improvised reunion)… Family Secrets

… late evening comedy improv with stand-up – TV comedians improvising rants on topics suggested by the audience. Then see Hate ‘n’ Live


… a totally improvised movie adventure. Then see Improvabunga! or see a fully improvised, Hollywood-style performance created from your all-time favourite movie titles! See Improvised Director’s Cut

… some after-midnight comedy improv. Then see The Improverts

… a free, improvised science themed lunchtime show. Then see Impulse Control

… some late night character comedy improv. Then see Inside the Comedian

.. improvised lunchtime epic adventures. Then see Lord of the Game of the Ring of Thrones

.. a brand new Marvel movie trilogy. Then see MARVELus: Improv the MARVEL-verse

… one of the UK’s leading improv troupes. Then see Men With Coconuts

.. a classic improvised murder mystery. Then see Murder She Didn’t Write: The Improvised Murder Mystery

… improvised comedy from improv comedy legends. Then see The Noise Next Door’s Comedy Lock-In and see their family friendly show, The Noise Next Door’s Really Really Good Afternoon Show Through Time!

… early evening improvised musical comedy. Then see Notflix: Originals

… mid afternoon classic comedy improv from fringe institutions. Then see The Oxford Imps

.. Paul Merton. Yes, him. Then see Paul Merton’s Impro Chums

… Whose Line Is It Anyway? Live at the Fringe. Then see Whose Line Is It Anyway? Live at the Fringe


,,, unique improvised jazz. Then see Piano and Dance Dialogues

… a late night  comedy Dungeons & Dragons show. Then see  Questing Time

… a midday James Bond-themed improv comedy show. Then see Shaken Not Stirred: The Improvised James Bond Film

… improvised Shakespeare where one member of the cast is drunk. Then see Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Macbeth

.. a legendary improvised musical troupe. Then see Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

… comedy sketch swapping live at lunchtime. Then see Sketch Thieves

… New Zealand’s favourite comedy improv show  at 11pm. Then see Snort

.. sell-out improvised Harry Potter. Then see Spontaneous Potter and also the children’s version, Spontaneous Potter Kidz

… an improvised legal trial. Then see This Is Your Trial and also the midday family-friendly version, This Is Your Trial (FF)

… semi-improvised Macbeth from two legendary comedians. Then see Tim FitzHigham and Thom Tuck in Macbeth

… Tony Slattery, rising again. Then see Tony Slattery: Slattery Will Get You Nowhere

… a free clown improv show. Then see Yum Yum

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