We've all had them – hairdressers who give you constant patter and banter whilst you're trapped in their chair, but Giovanni Monica - a professional barber from Wiltshire - decided a few years ago to take his love of laughter just that little bit further, pursuing a sideline as a stand-up comic.

Having done gigs in Bristol as an escape from the salon, he's here in Edinburgh to take in and contribute to the buzz, so you may see him around town doing some street-based stand-up. He looked at the possibility of turning an existing barber-shop into a formal Fringe venue but the costs involved were too much for the few days he's here, so for the next few evenings he's 'borrowing' York Place Barbers (opposite the Stand Comedy Club as it happens) from his friend Norrie Jones, to combine good haircuts with some cracking gags.

Maybe it's a reaction to TV's endless reality shows, but there also seems to be an increasing movement towards comedy being delivered in real-life settings too. For example in 'Fawlty Towers: the Dining Experience' at B'est this year they've taken over a real restaurant for the Fringe to perform comedy in character around you as you eat your meal. This kind of thing only works if the underlying reality gets it right (I'm assured that the Fawlty meal itself was actually good fare), and having watched Giovanni serve up a couple of cracking haircuts, I can vouch for his skills as a barber.

For the rest of it, you're going to get some standard barber-shop gags along the way, but it's more of a one-to-one comedy session as you're sat in his chair getting a haircut – he'll talk to you about what kind of day you've had, what you're up to in life, and just riff along with whatever comes into his head to make you laugh. It's not formally part of the festival, and it's not really set-up for a conventional audience (other than those waiting in line to get their hair cut), but the joy of watching him at work on other punters is definitely part of the experience.

He's here until Thursday 14th August, and is operating once the barber shop closes for usual business at the end of the day. There'll be a sign going up in the window from 7pm, and he'll carry on for as long as the customers come. Happy to cut hair for both men and women, it's perhaps the ideal opportunity for an unexpected laugh if you find yourself with messy hair and an hour to kill between shows. He charges just the regular salon prices (men's cut was £8 to give you an idea), with nothing added for the comedy.

This is what Edinburgh in August should be like – little unexpected finds away from the safety of the mega-venues charging £20+ a time for big-name comics in huge halls. I've resisted it all the way, but here come the puns – get back to your comedy roots for a real 'fringe' experience – and get down to York Place for a unique and quirky performance at the cutting edge of comedy.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

York Place Barbers, 4b York Place. Until 14th August 19:00 onwards

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