Now is usually the time of year to be throwing out recommendations as to who to catch at this years Edinburgh Fringe – and occasionally these get written by people who don’t go out and see a lot of live comedy. So as well as getting the chance to see some rare performances from the likes of Kevin Eldon and Neil Hamburger plus all the usual favourites – Stewart Lee, Daniel Kitson, Josie Long, David O’Doherty – I figured it be worth pushing ten acts (plus anymore I can shamelessly cram in) worth a bit of your time this year.
The man who took home the Best Newcomer award last year and who has been rapidly establishing himself as a household name ever since (albeit if you live in a rather nerdy comedy house), returns with a brand new show Let’s All Just Have Some Fun (And Learn Something, For Once). Sounds fun.
An off-kilter US stand-up who intersperses his sets with videos, music, dancing and all sorts of other general oddness. Definitely worth a look if you’re after a cult comic in the Zach Galifianakis/Eugene Mirman mould. He’s performing a solo set (Big In Japan) as well as a late-night variety show (The Dave Hill Explosion).
Another act who had a fantastic 2009 were sketch troupe Delete The Banjax. High energy and daft as cupboard full of brushes, they’re a foursome it’s impossible not to warm to and possess everything you could want in a sketch group.
Put together by Danielle Ward and Martin White this is, perhaps unsurprisingly given their previous works, a musical – a horror musical to be precise. ‘The perfect combination of jazz hands and inappropriate violence’, it also features a host of other comics including Colin Hoult, Sara Pascoe, Doc Brown and The Penny Dreadfuls.
Having seen his We Need Answers cohorts Tim Key and Mark Watson stamp their names all over the Fringe in the last few years, now may be the time for Alex Horne. Not content with just one show though, Horne’s lined up for three – a new stand-up show (Odds), a jazz and comedy show (Horne Section) and he’s also hosting Taskmaster, a one-off featuring an array of comedians who have been set ridiculous challenges throughout the year. Both Horne Section and Johnny Sweet’s show are being put on in collaboration with Invisible Dot who’ll be continuing with their own series of always-innovative comedy events.
The last few years Edinburgh has been the stomping ground for Flight of the Conchords star Kristen Schaal. Now it’s another of that group, hopeless pawnshop owner Dave (Arj Barker), who brings his peppy Mitch Hedberg style to the festival for the first time since 2000.
If you’re looking for some dark new sketches from a couple of sisters aiming to impress their mother (why wouldn’t you?) then Toby might be the act for you. Sisters Lizzie and Sarah Daykin are the new pair hoping to please a few audiences as well as their family matriarch. And if sketch acts are really your thing let’s not forget the wealth of others out there like Two Episodes of Mash, No Son Of Mine and Late Night Gimp Fight all definitely worth a gander.
The bilingual boy wonder has been a leading light on the Welsh circuit for several years now, he’s opened for Rhod Gilbert and has been a member of dream team sketch gang Superclump. Without wanting to blow too much hyperbole his way he’s grown into a well-rounded stand-up and this may be his year to be that ‘breakthrough’ guy.
One of the joys of Edinburgh is that can give comics the chance to act outside the usual stand-up confines. Pensioner Barry from Watford will be playing chat-show host and fronting a series where the audience can grill various celebrity guests on topical issues. A little like Question Time but hopefully without the overpowering urge to punch everyone on the panel.
Sometimes simplicity is a big selling point and The Boy With Tape On His Face is exactly what it sounds like. While he may not say a lot, his performances are a masterclass in physical comedy. But if you’re looking for something even more straightforward, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, then maybe you’d fancy catching the follow-up to one of last years most talked about shows – A Young Man Dressed As A Gorilla Dressed As An Old Man Sits In A Rocking Chair For Fifty-Six Minutes Then Leaves 2.
NB: You probably won’t need to have seen the original to understand the sequel.
On top of this there are plenty of others – Lee Kern, Nat Luurtsema, Pappy’s, Pete Johansson, Nick Helm, and the consistently excellent Adam Riches – to name just a few more. I did say there’d be shameless cramming. Enjoy.