Game shows and games at the Fringe

Gamification is the buzz word of the new ’20s. You’ll find it in business speak, in coaching and education. But the compelling nature of interactive theatre and performances for audiences with a distate for the “fourth wall” means that there’s a ready marketing for the live gameshow format as well as shows based on games.

We have already covered a few game shows, live quizzes and shows based on games in our recommendations for interactive shows but here is a specific dive into some choices for gameshows and games at this year’s Edfringe 2023.

For an “array of whacky games and cabaret acts”, you might start with free fringe show Absurd: A Live Cabaret Panel Show/ We are invited to “Join magician host Ava Beaux and magical team captains Kane and Abel” as “competitive comedians and playful performers battle to win, cheer on your favourite and join in the revelry if you’re feeling absurd enough! Optional participation, different guests each night and a forfeit suggestion box”

Also in the Free Fringe is lunchtime Arguments! The Comedy Debate Show, “an improvised comedy show, where master debater Donal Vaughan pits two comedians against each other (and the audience) to resolve a multitude of great arguments. Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Pineapple on pizza? Cats or Dogs? Every show is different in this family-friendly interactive game show where the audience gets to join in and argue!”

In another free game show, Board Game Smackdown has this lowdown: “The funniest Fringe performers play board/card/party games live on stage. Hosted by award-winning comedian and UK board game champion, James Cook. See website for listings, video clips and more.”

BATSU! is all about the powerful spirit of laughter. ” Experience the underground hit show from New York and Chicago, where comedians and your favorite Fringe guest stars compete to avoid electric shocks, paintballs, a giant chicken, and many more hilarious, jaw-dropping punishments. Immerse yourself in the gonzo and bacchanalian world of BATSU!, where anything can happen! The Sake Ninja is waiting…”

For something very unique, book your tickets for an award-winning social deduction tabletop board game, Blood on the Clocktower: Live “comes to the Fringe as a live comedy show. Hosted by Jon Gracey (Werewolf: Live, No Rolls Barred) and featuring a revolving cast of comedians, Blood on the Clocktower is a night of gothic chaos and carnage. Will the townsfolk of Ravenswood Bluff finally destroy the demon – or will they only destroy each other?”

Another live game show using fringe comedians is Werewolf: Live – Charity Spectacular! “as an all-star line-up of comedians backstab, manipulate and fight for survival in cult game show Werewolf: “

For something more absurdist you’ll want to be at What Would You Do If That Was You? which is “a comedy game show in which contestants are judged on their creativity and ability to improvise when presented with absurd, morally dubious situations”. The show “involves a PowerPoint presentation, guest scorekeeper, artwork done using MS Paint, original songs and videos plus an amazing custom-made computer game.”

For something family friendly (8+), award-winning Marcel Lucont: Les Enfants Terribles – A Gameshow For Awful Children has to be your choice as this “wild interactive game show returns, where kids get to be pests, politicians and petomanes to be crowned the most awful child. See what happens when international insouciance meets infantile exuberance”.

Stand-up comedian panel shows have been a staple of TC comedy for years. in Not My Audience! The Interactive Panel Show You Control with an App! involves a smart phone app and is a “stand-up comedy panel show that you influence in real time is back. Three top comics answer the daft questions you pick on our exclusive app, you vote on which answers you liked the best, and choose who will take on our fiendish stand-up challenges! Never the same show twice, a must for comedy fans who want to see some of the sharpest comedy minds at the festival be put through their paces. No need to reserve, just rock up with a charged smartphone!”.

Tarot: Hive Mind is “a gameshow in which contestants have to crowdsource their way to victory”. Intrigued? “We came up with this idea while eating a Mexican meal. Come watch Tarot go all shiny floor and sequins and try and crowdsource their way to a format.”

Also making use of tech for comedic purposes is Off With Your Head. Here’s the billing: “Are you fit to reign? How long do you think you can survive as ruler? Come and find out in this one-of-a-kind interactive comedy video game! Part comedy, improv, video game and choose your own adventure – we promise a unique experience at every show.”

Cross Country Weirdos is a “a funny hour of games, comedy and really weird facts” as “Comedians from rivalling nations compete to be crowned the weirdest based on their traditions, food and cultures. Think morris dancing vs line dancing.”

For a “free (and very late) evening of bingo with a musical twist”, get your dancing shoes along to The Pop Bingo Disco. ” Enjoy banter, beats and bawless bingo!”

The “ultimate geek comedy debate show”, Rik Carranza Presents Clash of Fandoms, Hosted by Pure Radio Scotland’s Rik Carranza and featuring a rotating line-up of guests representing each side, “each day sees either Star Trek vs Star Wars or Marvel vs DC go head to head. Who wins? Only you can decide as comedians debate, argue and plead their case.”

Comedy improv is represented in Sounds Like…, a”unique improvisational panel show based around rhyme and rap” which puts “a range of special guests from the world of music and comedy on the spot to create intricate rhymes against tight time pressures and the other panellists’ wits”

There’s a family-friendly Fringe debut card game championship show at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall called Tofgam Card Game Championships. We are “welcome to join the Tofgam Team for our first event at the Fringe. A card game championship fit for everyone with superb prizes for the winner at the end of the event.”

Themes on Avitation and back again at the Fringe, Fungasm Airlines is definitely an absurdist game show. “Will your knowledge of aviation phraseology be the ticket in PhraseWave? Perhaps your expressive genius at 30,000ft will seal the deal in Emotional Baggage Claim? It’s Fungasm’s fourth year at the Fringe and unqualified pilots Ray D’Manche and Clora Mandevor are at the helm of West Port Oracle’s stunning airplane cabin. Glamorous air hostesses will assist down the aisle, with airport statistician Randi Smöcher on hand to wrestle with our unpredictable scoring system. Bonus points for conquering a fear of flying…”

Mainstream comedy panel show,  Dorks ‘n’ Orks – Live! invites you to “Imagine Dungeons & Dragons. But funny. Imagine Game of Thrones but without the nudity. Or budget.”

Finally, also back again, is Fringe favourite John Robertson’s The Dark Room. “The audience is trapped in a retro videogame with a sadistic, end-of-level boss. Escape and win £1,000 or be brutally murdered by the rest of the crowd!” It’s very interactive, in the dark and kids and adults often come back to see it again, and again. For kids it is going to be The Dark Room for Kids!.

So, if gameshows and games are your thing, there’s plenty on offer here. And there are still more in the Fringe programme, such as fringe favourites Comedians Beer Mat Flipping Super Bowl and free Comedians Getting Drunk Playing Panel Shows, not to mention Dungeons ‘n’ Bastards: An Adam Riches Gameshow.