Is there a place for Podcasts at the Fringe? Chris Qullietti thinks they're ready for primetime.

There was a time when the only shows at the Festival that doubled up as radio came from the BBC at Potterow (Now George Herriot's) but with the current boom in the audio industry greater numbers of podcasts have crept up to Edinburgh as producers attempt to capitalise on the locality of both audiences and talent that gather together within five square miles in August.

The podcast Fringe show is a different breed than that of you normal festival fare, most of them are only on once or twice and a lot of them hosted by comedians or personalities already at the festival with other shows. Some would say, why go to the biggest arts festival in the world and see a podcast get recorded when there are loads of brilliantly crafted pieces of theatre just happening all around you? I would say, they’re not causing any harm, the limited runs don’t take up a lot of space and the majority of people attending will already be fans so majoritively they’re not taking away bums other show’s seats.

It’s also very Fringe to be reactive to the real world. Alternative and standup comedy could be said to have been nurtured and found at the Fringe before making it to the mainstream. Podcasts are huge right now – a radio renaissance (Not that linear radio has gone, or is going anywhere anytime soon) so it makes sense that they’ve found their way into dimly lit rooms in Edinburgh.

There’s a great varity of podcast recording this year; a mix of comedy, chat and crime. There’s the uber-popular The Guilty Feminist hosted by renowned comedian and writer, Deborah Frances-White, who discusses the ins and outs of being a modern feminist with a host of big guests, that in the past has included people like Hannah Gadsby and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. With sixty million downloads since it’s launch, this pod has gone global and it’s definitely a hot ticket this fest. At the other end of the dial there’s Who’s Line is It Anyway legend Gregg Proops, who brings The Smartest Man In the World to the Gilded balloon. A cabaret for your ears, it takes you on a hilarious journey through topic littered with jokes and musical interludes that would actually make for a very good late-night Fringe show.

Political punditry is also big. Matt Forde is returning to the Fringe with his award-winning stand up, but he’s also bringing two recordings of his Political Party podcast where he speaks to the people behind the politics to understand what’s going on. And he’s not alone. The topical podcast The Bugle with News Quiz regular Andy Zaltzman is in Edinburgh to take a satirical side-swipe at international news – which seems fitting for an international festival.

I reckon we’ll see growing numbers visiting Edinburgh in the coming years with the technical requirements and cost of recording audio becoming ever easier; but what I’d like to see is less ’sit down with a guest’ and more intricate, produced storytelling. Merging the worlds together and creating more theatre for the ears. Something that’s still common if you listen to Radio 4 longwave but could do with a bit of Fringe madness to make it more interesting.

Related Listings

The Guilty Feminist: Live Podcast

The Guilty Feminist: Live Podcast

The Guilty Feminist podcast has become a comedy phenomenon with over 60 million downloads since it launched in early 2016. Deborah Frances-White and her special guests record her hit comedy podcast at the prestigious Pleasance Grand… 

Greg Proops: The Smartest Man in the World

Greg Proops: The Smartest Man in the World

See the Proopcast Live in hot Edinburgh. Greg will record the podcast with the usual mix of drinking, so-called jokes, singing, poor dancing and boring preachy parts. Then meet all you kittens… 

Matt Forde's Political Party Podcast

Matt Forde's Political Party Podcast

Following a five-year sell-out residency in London, Matt Forde (as seen on Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week, The Royal Variety Performance and Question Time) returns to Edinburgh for two live shows! The Political Party Podcast is regularly in the Top 10 Comedy Podcasts on iTunes and has over 50,000 subscribers… 

The Bugle Live

The Bugle Live

Global smash-hit podcast returns with its unique live cocktail of up-to-the-second satire, powerhosed hogwash and on-demand puns. Hosted by Andy Zaltzman. With global guests. And a big screen… 

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