Ten Comedy Highlights from Edinburgh Fringe 2019

By Victoria Nangle

As ever, it’s easy to get lost in the sheer volume of comedy treats on offer in the Edinburgh Fringe programme. So, in order to get you started, here are just a few – from a variety of styles and genres – to whet your whistle and get you started on your laughter adventure. In no particular order…

Patrick Monahan: Started From The Bottom, Now I’m Here, Gilded Ballon Nightclub, 2-25 August (except 14th), 20.00, £14/13/12/11

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Monahan has always been a barrel of interesting and personal material, and this year he’s gathered it together into a linear force to be reckoned with. A tight show, sticking to his own story – born in Iran, raised in a caravan on the outskirts of Middlesborough, now living a middle-class and some-would-say privileged existence, stopping off to win the TV talent programme ‘Show Me The Funny’ and embrace the comedy world in one of his now almost trademark hugs. This hints at being a show that’ll pack the punch Monahan’s smile has always held.

Nick Offerman: All Rise, Assembly Hall, 24 August, 18.00, £25

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The Edinburgh Fringe attracts shiny stars from all over the globe, and this one-off date is bound to be popular with fans of the acclaimed US comedy television programme ‘Parks & Recreations’. Nick Offerman aka Ron Swanson brings his lighter side to town promising “deliberative talking and light dance.” Rumour has it he is quite an accomplished dancer on the sly, so expect to be surprised in all manner of ways. If you can get a ticket.

Police Cops – Badass Be Thy Name, Assembly George Square Studios, 2-25 August (except 14th& 21st), 21.20, £13/12

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After their Fringe successes of Police Cops followed by Police Cops In Space, these lads are back with their latest visual- and verbal-gag packed genre-bending action-packed show Badass Be Thy Name. Previews at the Brighton Fringe earlier this year showed they these guys are delivering the goods yet again, packing vampire-hunting, conspiracy-theory, 9 to 5 escaping, as well as dance, fight and a few more unusual visual treats into one single hour. And, in an almost signature move by now, some troubled father/son issues that need wrangling with in a most delightful way. Loads of fun.

Jessica Fostekew: Hench, Monkey Barrel Comedy, 3-25 August (except 12th), 13.30, £5

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An instantly recognisable voice to podcast fans (which in this day and age is most of us, to be fair), you’ll place Jess Fostekew not only from her own podcast Hoovering, but also The Guilty Feminist, Global Pillage to mention a few. Her dry, intelligent humour is a joy to behold, especially when it’s coming from a place of truth – which this show totally is. Exploring her own strengths, in all of its many fascinating facets, you might even leave with a bit more awareness of your own.

Frisky & Mannish’s Pop Lab, Spiegeltent Palaid Du Variete, Assembly George Square Gardens, 3-25 August (except 12th& 19th), 19.00, £16/15

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Ten years after they first burst onto the cabaret and comedy scene the marvellous Frisky & Mannish are back with their first new show since 2014. With previous runs seeing the duo schooling their audiences posing as primary educators with acid-tongued camp musical pastiches and mash-ups that showcased their impressive musical talents no less than their comedic ones. Pop Lab now brings them to faux PhD levels of creativity, with biting humour and pop attacks that are cutting and stunning.

Imaginary Porno Charades, Sweet Grassmarket, 2-24 August (except 5th, 12th& 19th), 22.30, £8/6

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After that spot of anarchy synonymous with a Fringe experience? Here is a classic example of a little of what you fancy. With performers gathered from shows on around the Fringe, accompanying the regular team captains (who also have other shows they’re performing), this does delivers exactly what it says on the tin. Taking recognisable film, song, dance and book titles and giving them the porn-title adaptation – think of a King Leer kind of thing – and two teams battle it out for points, occasionally with the help of some audience participation. Chosen on a purely voluntary basis, so no need to panic.

Amusical, Pleasance Courtyard, 21 August, 23.30, £15

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Edinburgh Fringe is scattered with these one-off wonders. Sometimes they’re only here for one year – selling tickets by word of mouth – and sometimes they return and you have to keep your eyes peeled and your diary ready. Amusical is the latter. Jayde Adams and Kiri Pritchard-McLean play host to comedians singing their favourite songs from the West End, accompanied by house band Dave Cribb and the Quavers. With all proceeds going to local health charity Waverley Care.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Work in Progress, Monkey Barrel Comedy, 31 July-13 August, 13.40, £5 or Pay What You Want at the venue

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Kiri Prichard-McLean is an excellent comic, picking up awards for her MC skills, television work for her performances, as well as packed out bookings in comedy clubs up and down the country. And here is a chance to see behind the curtain of her comedic mind as she offers a not yet finished show at a very affordable price. It’s easy to think that all shows at the Edinburgh Fringe are finished and complete, but there is a mine of works in progress from some incredible comics big and small – with Russell Howard and Ben Target immediately being ones that jump to mind. Keep your eyes peeled for these too.

Nick Helm: Phoenix from the Flames, Pleasance Dome, 3-24 August, 17.40, £14/13/12.50/11.50

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Almost ten years ago Nick Helm erupted in a shower of sweat and acclaim with Keep Hold Of The Gold, offering a new voice for the underdog of poetry and heavy metal. Since then he’s released albums, had television specials, been known across the land as an actor in the likes of the very successful ‘Uncle’ – and he’s back at the Edinburgh Fringe with a new show ahead of a national tour – AND performing his own comedy horror story I Think, You Stink! Every day alongside it. Busy man.

This Is Your Trial, Frankenstein Pub, 2-26 August, 22.00, £7/5

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Viva the unpredictable with this one, with comedians acting as the prosecution and the defence lawyers in cases investigating ‘crimes’ audience members have been accused of my their friends. Critically acclaimed and billed as featuring the likes of comics Thom Tuck, Trevor Lock, Tim Fitzingham and guests, this lot have been coming to Edinburgh for so many years they’ve got plenty of talented friends to invite along to take part. Plus, there’s a family-friendly version for a limited run at noon.

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