Cardinal Burns

Cardinal Burns

The best moments in Cardinal Burns’ victory lap run of six dates at the Fringe are when the duo ditch any notion of their characters resembling people in the real world and, a la Reeves & Mortimer, stretch out their mannerisms in the most grotesque and ridiculous way possible... 

Terry Alderton

Terry Alderton

Often with self-styled ‘leftfield’ comics oddity is limited to execution rather than completely disconnected content. In Terry Alderton’s case his style and material is equally capable of creating moments of imaginative brilliance and of baffling strangeness... 

The Horne Section - Live at the Grand!

The Horne Section - Live at the Grand!

It’s fair to say that you may as well put a sofa on a stage as big as the Pleasance Grand. The Horne Section is the kind of show where you get the impression that, despite the complexity of the onstage big band set-up, any potential joke is bought into the realms of the possible... 

Funk Rocket 5000

Funk Rocket 5000

Despite the midday showing time, Funk Rocket 5000 is a pitch-black comedy. A two-man sketch show of sorts, the two characters onstage are depressive teenager Rachel, and her demonic, self-appointed mentor and aide Dr Benoit, where the audience is encouraged to contribute to Rachel’s ailing mental health through a series of trust exercises... 

Casual Violence: A Kick In The Teeth

Casual Violence: A Kick In The Teeth

I didn’t find myself laughing uproariously at Casual Violence. There were some great gags embedded within their sketches, often sly wordplay that creeps in under the radar of the main plot thrust... 

Tony Law Maximum Nonsense

Tony Law Maximum Nonsense

Blimey, Tony Law is funny. Naturally funny. There are plenty of joke tellers at the Fringe, who put their technical skills on show and produce clever bits of material that are painstakingly crafted and mechanically arranged... 

Thom Tuck Flips Out

Thom Tuck Flips Out

Thom Tuck looks and sounds like a cross between David Mitchell and a long-lost sixth form teacher famed for getting a bit drunk. He creates a fantastic atmosphere in this early evening show of an orchestrated shambles, with the background whiff of an authority figure - dressed in tweed jacket, cords, and shirt, speaking with a commanding if slurred voice - going a bit off the rails... 

The Fantasist

The Fantasist

A woman flails around in her hospital bedroom as if operated on strings by a huge blue man in an overcoat, himself a disquieting looking papier-mâché puppet. Her face is covered in blue paint as the score crescendos in atonal noises, sounding a bit like a music box being pulled apart... 

Rhys Darby - This Way to Spaceship

Rhys Darby - This Way to Spaceship

Rhys Darby is under no illusions as to why many of his audience will have turned up. In the framing device for this brilliantly crafted show Darby’s material emerges from his attempts to work out how he ended up on a mysterious spaceship; it transpires that the ship was intended to save people from an imploding earth, but Darby only managed to sneak on by posing as his more famous fictional alter ego Murray Hewitt... 

Michael Winslow - Noizeyman

Michael Winslow - Noizeyman

Say what you like about the show, the title doesn’t attempt to mislead you. Noizeyman is deafeningly loud. As Winslow produces a staggering series of noises, accents, impersonations and screeches, the soundman may as well have whacked all the levels on full and gone to the pub... 

Foil Arms and Hog - Late Night Sketch Comedy

Foil Arms and Hog - Late Night Sketch Comedy

Irish trio Foil, Arms and Hog, or Sean Finegan, Conor McKenna and Sean Flanagan to their parents, barely leave the stage for the duration of this dizzying hour of sketch comedy. No lights up, lights down for them - the only thing to separate each sketch is a last-ditch dive towards a cymbal placed at the far end of the room... 

The Jewbadour

The Jewbadour

There’s an old Jackie Mason joke where, when talking about the reception of his material, he claims that ‘gentiles love it’ but when Jews hear it, their response doesn’t stretch beyond ‘echh… too Jewish’... 

Sarah Kendall - Get Up, Stand-Up

Sarah Kendall - Get Up, Stand-Up

‘You’re a funny crowd tonight aren’t you? For the first ten minutes I was sure this gig had bombed’. For a comic with straight observational material Sarah Kendall is admirably good at channelling hostility and tension to give her jokes that extra bit of bite... 

Love All

Love All

A two man show by charismatic performers Aideen Wylde and Tadhg Hickey promises fast paced farce within the context of an 1870’s period setting, interestingly established at the start by handing out a ‘local paper’ to the audience as they enter, and an impressive ‘lawn’ assembled onstage... 

Bridget Christie: War Donkey

Bridget Christie: War Donkey

If a stand-up show concludes with an impassioned yell of the phrase ‘women’s rights are worth farting for’, chances are you’re not in the company of a normal stand-up. This phrase is the clarion call for one of the best ending set-ups I’ve seen at the Fringe so far, which I won’t spoil here... 

Slapdash Galaxy

Slapdash Galaxy

Last year, Jeff Achtem’s ‘Swamp Juice’ took the art of shadow puppetry to mesmeric heights. This year’s ‘Slapdash Galaxy’ repeats the achievement in astonishing fashion... 

Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown

Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown

For years, Pappy’s have established their reputation as one of the most beloved sketch troupes on the Fringe. Despite their lack of success in TV and radio, which they cannily note, their release of the Flatshare Slamdown podcast has continued their success out of the particular madnesses of the Fringe hive, as they romp through a series of quiz rounds based on the subject of flatmates - beefs, passive-aggressive notes and hours on the internet abound... 

Carl Donnelly: Different Gravy

Carl Donnelly: Different Gravy

Carl Donnelly has written his autobiography and hopes to share it with his audience, despite the fact it hasn’t been published yet. This ingenious premise punctuates a smooth, tightly constructed show with a series of readings from his life story, set to a jazzy backing... 

Andrew Maxwell: That's the Spirit

Andrew Maxwell: That's the Spirit

Andrew Maxwell likes to laugh. His punchlines are often footnoted by a demonic, high-pitched chuckle that rumbles around the room and at one point he even introduces a section by telling the audience that he hopes they enjoy it, because ‘it really made me giggle’... 

The Humble Quest for Universal Genius

The Humble Quest for Universal Genius

This Humble Quest offers up a madcap, frenetic late night quiz show, hosted by Mark Allen and diminutive, slightly eerie sidekick Eli Silverman, as a duo of guests take part in a not-so-grandiose Olympiad to crown one of the two the Universal Genius... 

Helen Arney - Voice of an Angle

Helen Arney - Voice of an Angle

The idea of geek chic is a funny thing. In many cases, it involves lots of confident, attractive, endearing people labelled as ‘geeky’ for the sake of typecasting, rather than the actual reality of a number crunching, socially awkward and probably isolated person... 

Brendon Burns, Home Stretch Baby

Brendon Burns, Home Stretch Baby

Brendon Burns is forty-one. The home stretch of his show’s title is the realisation that, at his age, he can let go of a lot of baggage and feel comfortable in his maturity. But for God’s sake, don’t expect that this premise means he’s going to take it easy or, for that matter, go easy on his audience... 

Eric's Tales of the Sea - A Submariner's Yarn

Eric's Tales of the Sea - A Submariner's Yarn

The last twenty minutes of Eric’s Tales of the Sea are heart-wrenchingly powerful. The show moves from vivid and rich comic descriptions of life onboard the submarine where Eric spent years to the terrors of seeing a friend struggling underwater at depths below six hundred metres; the audience realises they are no longer in the company of a funny raconteur... 

James Acaster - Prompt

James Acaster - Prompt

It’s rare for a Fringe stand-up show to devote a significant stretch of time to the correct pronunciation of Kettering Town F.C.’s terrace chants. It’s rarer still to see it re-worked in the manner of ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’... 

Dregs

Dregs

Dregs, a sketch duo starring Max Dickins and Mark Smith, are hotly tipped performers. They exude charm and charisma. Their patter between sketches shows that they play off each other well... 

Idiots of Ants

Idiots of Ants

If there’s one thing Idiots of Ants can’t be accused of, it’s a lack of enthusiasm. From the moment they bound onstage they produce an hour-long barrage on the senses. The opening conceit – that the venue’s audience are actually stationed as a fixture of the Idiots’ flat – sets a high benchmark for both energy and ideas... 

The W. Kamau Bell Curve – Ending Racism In About An Hour

The W. Kamau Bell Curve – Ending Racism In About An Hour

Even from the offstage pre-amble, which wryly and shrewdly disassociates the use of the phrase ‘The N Word’ from the word itself - telling us that the former phrase won’t be in the show, but the word will be all over the place - W Kamau Bell unleashes a scabrous, shrewd and hilarious assault on racial assumptions and taboos... 

Barry and Stuart - Show and Tell: The Show

Barry and Stuart - Show and Tell: The Show

A magic show is fundamentally different from most other shows – because the success of the show is based on how much trickery can be covered up from the audience, rather than how much can be shown to them... 

John Robins: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

John Robins: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

Despite being named after an album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a band famed for its extravagant tendencies, John Robins’ show of the same name is comforting and familiar. Robins is a highly skilled raconteur, who comes across more as a friend who happens to own a microphone than a comic aiming to control an audience... 

Russell Kane: Manscaping

Russell Kane: Manscaping

After winning last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award, Russell Kane’s marriage fell apart, he had a breakdown, and didn’t perform for a considerable part of the year. The show that he brings back to the Fringe this year tracks the rise and fall in his personal life across the year through a general frame of ‘manscapes’ – a series of postures that are expected of men in general... 

Roisin Conaty: Destiny's Dickhead

Roisin Conaty: Destiny's Dickhead

Many stand-ups use the idea of a nervy, neurotic persona as part of their acts. But Conaty’s particular brand of nervousness is more extrovert than most. Her eye for coaxing humour out of awkward misunderstandings and anecdotes exudes a real warmth and charm – and as a result produces a brilliant atmosphere at this late afternoon show... 

Jason Byrne: Cirque Du Byrne

Jason Byrne: Cirque Du Byrne

I doubt that the grand surroundings of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre had previously played host to any event opening with a spotlight falling on a man in a Ringmaster’s jacket whilst the theme from 2001: A Space Oddysey blasts around them, or with frenetic bursts of Irish dancing... 

Milton Jones: Lion Whisperer

Milton Jones: Lion Whisperer

Surreal humour is usually considered to be at odds with a comedic mainstream, though many who are named practitioners of the surreal are some of the most broadly watched of comics. Milton Jones will play every night this month to the cavernous Assembly Hall, and last month he aired the seventh series of his long-running Radio 4 sitcom: his brand of ‘odd’ one-liners is one that is completely embraced by the comedic establishment despite being posed as an oddity... 

Mark Thomas: Extreme Rambling (Walking the Wall)

Mark Thomas: Extreme Rambling (Walking the Wall)

This comedy show is about the Israel-Palestine conflict and lasts for two hours. Two hours. It’s very long, it involves a high level of concentration, it’s peppered with statistics about the conflict and it’s delivered at breakneck speed... 

Josie Long: The Future Is Another Place

Josie Long: The Future Is Another Place

I don’t think that political soapboxing should ordinarily have a place in comedy. Too often it can seem like a substitute for jokes, rather than exploiting a joke’s unique capacity to de-familiarise things in an enlightening way... 

Simon Munnery: Hats Off for the 101ers, and Other Material

Simon Munnery: Hats Off for the 101ers, and Other Material

My assumption is that it was The Stand’s decision to blast Method Man out of the speakers as the audience took their seats rather than Simon Munnery’s, but it is a credit to a show exhibiting a master craftsman of the unexpected that I’m still not sure... 

Paul Foot: Still Life

Paul Foot: Still Life

At one point in this freewheeling show, Paul Foot pulls out a heap of colourfully illustrated flashcards and asks us to yield to the ‘glimpses’ of jokes they contain. These hilariously turn out to reveal skewed half-jokes featuring prostitutes, cheese shops, and occasional tables - which he footnotes by telling the audience that if we don’t enjoy them, that’s because ‘the mistake you’re making is searching for hidden meaning’... 

Joanna Neary: Youth Club

Joanna Neary: Youth Club

If most people had a time machine, it’s unlikely their first choice of destination would be Truro in 1987. Joanna Neary’s storytelling show charts the highs and lows of the bored, hormonal teenagers that kill time in Truro’s youth club...