Comedy picks for the Edinburgh Fringe 2011

This article is from 2011

Comedy highlights from the Edinburgh Fringe 2011

David O’Doherty

Two shows this year from the beloved man of lo-fi musical comedy with the high-laugh quotient. His usual brilliant sit-down/stand-up fare, David O’Doherty is Looking Up, is augmented by his debut on the one-man comic play scene. Rory Sheridan’s Tales of the Antarctica is set in 1917 and features the pitfalls and perils experienced by Ireland’s legendary snowy explorer.
David O’Doherty is Looking Up, Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 6–29 Aug (not 15), 7.20pm, £14–£15 (£12–£13). Previews 3–5 Aug, £6; Rory Sheridan’s Tales of the Antarctica, Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, 6–28 Aug (not 15), 3.20pm, £9.50–£10 (£8.50–£9). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £6.

Free comedy

As the ticket-price end of the Fringe gets ever wider and, occasionally, a wee bit on the riskily expensive side for an hour’s entertainment, thank heavens for free fun. But, you’ll cry, free means rubbish doesn’t it? No, actually, it doesn’t. There is an increasing number of comics getting their August fix in buildings putting on free gigs such as the Laughing Horse venues, the Banshee Labyrinth, The Street, the Voodoo Rooms and Dragonfly. Established names such as Robin Ince, Aisle16, Norman Lovett, Tara Flynn and Lewis Schaffer will all simply be looking for cash to be chucked in a bucket at the end of their gigs. Fair play to them.
See and for full details.

Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen

Mr Braunohler and Ms Schaal team up once more for a different kind of off-kilter comedy show as they do their own thing as well as inviting some other funny folks and music acts on for a bit of good old-fashioned ‘variety’. And if you simply can’t get enough of king Kurt, get along to his solo show which bears the not-contentious-at-all title of The Amish Guide to Fucking.
Hot Tub, Assembly George Square, 0131 623 3030, 12–27 Aug, 7.35pm, £15–£16 (£14–£15)
The Amish Guide to Fucking, Assembly Hall, Mound Place, 0131 623 3030, 6–28 Aug (not 16), 9.15pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7–£8). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £5.

BUG - Hosted by Adam Buxton

Releasing himself from the shackles of his buddy Joe, Mr Buxton makes a bold return to the Fringe with his hugely popular London night, BUG, in which he does his irreverent thing while some new, hot and dangerous music videos play to the throng.
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 25–29 Aug, 10.30pm, £15.

The Boy With Tape On His Face

One of the breakthrough hits from last August, quiet Kiwi Sam Wills returns on the back of his Best Newcomer nomination. Expect little in the way of audience banter (of the spoken kind anyway) but much tittyfalarious physical jesting.
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 15–28 Aug, 9.10pm, £10.50–£12.50 (£9.50–£11.50).

Luke Wright - Cynical Ballads

Promising his most serious show to date, the ex-Aisle16 performance poet gives us some Cynical Ballads, a forthright travelogue across the state of Britain today.
Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, 6–28 Aug (not 16), 4.15pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £6.

Phill Jupitus

Stand Down is the Buzzcocks chap’s first Fringe show in absolute ages (though he was spotted laughing like a happy drain at a Sean Lock Pleasance show a few years back), which he will couple with an improv thing at the Gilded Balloon.
The Stand, York Place, 0131 558 7272, 5–28 Aug (not 15, 22), 8.25pm, £12. Previews 3 Aug, 10pm & 4 Aug, 7.40pm, £11.

The Three Englishmen

Another sketch group that came right out of the blue to tickle us pink in 2010 aims to capitalise on that glory with more exquisite broken comedy.
The Caves, Cowgate, 0131 556 5375, 6–28 Aug (not 17), 4pm, £8–£9 (£7–£8). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £5.

Todd Barry

Back after a lengthy absence, the US guy you may well have seen in The Wrestler and/or Flight of the Conchords is here for some low-key banter and tossing off an endless stream of seemingly effortless one-liners.
The Stand III & IV, York Place, 0131 558 7272, 16–28 Aug, 3pm, £10.

Nick Helm

Musical comedy has been dying on its flat-noted behind of late, but Helm could be the Alice Cooper-obsessed man to save the day. Bring some cough sweeties along in case his voice packs in with all that shouting.
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 6–29 Aug (not 10, 17), 4pm, £11–£12 (£9.50–£11). Previews 3–5 Aug, £6.

Claudia O’Doherty

One of the undoubted quirky treats of last year, the antipodean who is no relation whatsoever to David (even though they’ve written a book together: weird?) blasts back with the big questions of today. This time it’s What is Soil Erosion?
Gilded Balloon Teviot, Bristo Square, 0131 622 6552, 6–28 Aug (not 16), 8.45pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9). Previews 3–5 Aug, £5.

Omid Djalili

A big national tour is penned in for the autumn, so the Godzilla impersonator is returning to the Fringe with a series of warm-up gigs. See him up close and personal before all you can spot is a speck of Omid from the back row of a massive hall.
The Stand III & IV, York Place, 0131 558 7272, 18–28 Aug, 7.50pm, £10.

Pajama Men

The finest physical duo in the funny business do more of their buttoned-up cotton comedy thing by charging around In the Middle of No One.
Assembly Hall, Mound Place, 0131 623 3030, 6–29 Aug (not 15), 9pm, £13–£14 (£12–£13). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £5.

Josie Long

She went fully on the attack last year with a show that platformed her tougher side and it earned her a shiny award nomination. Which Josie will be in town this year?
Pleasance Dome, Bristo Square, 0131 556 6550, 6–28 Aug (not 15, 22), 7pm, £10–£12. Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £7.

Alun Cochrane

One of the sure-fire safe bets of the Fringe as the man they call Alun brings us some affable fare. Whether any double denim will be on display is a matter for his own conscience.
The Stand, York Place, 0131 558 7272, 5–29 Aug (not 15), 6.50pm, £10.

Tim Key

The 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner is here with yet another ‘slut’-entitled show. This time it’s Masterslut. Poems, films and a little bit of non-threatening audience touching are on the agenda.
Pleasance Dome, Bristo Square, 0131 556 6550, 6–29 Aug (not 15), 9.45pm, £12–£14 (£11–£13). Previews 3–5 Aug, £6.50.

Scott Capurro

A contemplative Capurro is in town to recall his late mother, the life and soul of many a party, in a show that you probably still won’t be able to take your own parents to.
Pleasance Dome, Bristo Square, 0131 556 6550, 6–29 Aug (not 16), 8pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8–£9). Previews 3–5 Aug, £5.

Mark Watson

Everyone’s favourite not-Welsh stand-up uses this year’s Fringe to showcase some new material he fancies trying out. It will, of course, be a million times better than many of the programme’s ‘fully-developed’ hours.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, Bristo Square, 0131 622 6552, 19–27 Aug, 7.45pm, £15 (£12.50).

Mark Thomas

The thorn in the side of ‘authority’ gives us a two-hour show related to his journey to the Middle East as he considers what makes an effective separation barrier.
The Bongo Club, Holyrood Road, 0131 557 2827, 8–20 Aug, 7.30pm, £14.50 (£10).

Imran Yusuf

The man who will go down in the history books as the first Free Fringe act to get a spot on an Edinburgh Comedy Award shortlist returns with the fully-paid big boys to do more of his jovial physical schtick.
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 6–28 Aug, 7pm, £11–£12 (£9.50–£11). Previews 3–5 Aug, £6.

Joanna Neary

Another one who’s been away from the Fringe for too long is the comic actress who played the nervy Judith in Ideal. Here she drops into a Youth Club with another potpourri of carefully crafted characters.
The Stand V, Picardy Place, 0131 558 7272, 5–28 Aug (not 15), 3.50pm, £9 (£8). Preview 3 Aug, 5.50pm, £8 (£7).

Russell Kane

Having scooped the big prize last year after being nominated for the umpteenth time, Kano could easily have wielded the winner’s prerogative and not bothered coming back. Gratifyingly, he’s here for the bulk of August indulging in a hearty bit of Manscaping.
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 12–26 Aug (not 22), 8.50pm, £17.50 (£15.50).

Daniel Sloss

It only feels like yesterday that the Fife lad was doing open spots at local comedy clubs but now he has a BBC3 sitcom pilot under his belt, is playing the Glasgow Pavilion in the autumn and is back at the Fringe for his third solo show.
Assembly George Square, 0131 623 3030, 6–29 Aug (not 16), 7.35pm, £11.50–£13.50 (£10–£11). Preview 3 Aug, £7.50.

Josh Howie

He insists that he’s not a twat or a cock or a prick. But Josh Howie is fully aware that he’s a dick. After all, his show is called I Am a Dick and features a series of socially awkward scenarios that have allowed him to reach that painful conclusion.
The Stand V, Picardy Place, 0131 558 7272, 5–28 Aug (not 15), 6.20pm, £9 (£8). Previews 3 Aug, 8.25pm & 4 Aug, 1.40pm, £8 (£7).

Des Bishop

Since last year’s triumphant run of My Dad Was Nearly James Bond, Bishop Snr has sadly passed away. This revisit will have an added poignancy.
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 5–14 Aug, 9.10pm, £14 (£12.50). Previews 3 & 4 Aug, £11.

Bridget Christie

The self-proclaimed Housewife Surrealist has dressed up as Charles II on stage and accidentally worked for five years at the Daily Mail. What insanities await this year?
The Stand II, North St Andrew Street, 0131 558 7272, 5-28 Aug (not 15), 4.40pm, £8 (£7). Preview 4 Aug, 5pm, £7 (£6).

Carl Donnelly

One of the country’s most fluid and naturally funny comics with a natty line in 70s shaded specs might have an eye on a prize or two with his latest stand-up affair, Carl Donnelly 3: Carl Donnelier! Don’t think he’ll win anything for easy on the eye/tongue show title though.
Udderbelly’s Pasture, Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, 6–29 Aug (not 15), 7.50pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11). Previews 3–5 Aug, £7.

Christmas for Two

Two comics whose tastes were too bold for a national TV channel that had asked them to write some sketches. Sticking Sarah Campbell and Amy Hoggart into a cave might well be the only answer.
The Caves, Cowgate, 0131 556 5375, 6–28 Aug (not 17), 4.55pm, £6.50. Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £5.

Hal Sparks

Pescatarian comic Sparks was in the US version of Queer as Folk and performed CPR on an elderly chap at LA International Airport. Evolution Overdrive is his Edinburgh debut featuring a very specific take on pop culture.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, Bristo Square, 0131 622 6552, 6–28 Aug (not 15), 10.45pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9). Previews 3–5 Aug, £5.

Paul Foot

Whether he’s talking at length about racist shire horses or conducting elongated one-sided phone calls, you know you’ll have to strap yourself in for an evening with Mr Foot.
Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, 6-28 Aug (not 16), 7.40pm, £6.50–£11 (£6-£10.50). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £6.

John-Luke Roberts and Nadia Kamil

The Behemothers are back after not being here for a bit, promising (though they haven’t actually said as much) weird impersonations, actual audience involvement and jolly off-kilter set-ups and smackdowns.
Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 6–29 Aug (not 16), 4.45pm, £9–£11 (£7.50–£9.50). Previews 3–5 Aug, £5.

Richard Herring

He described our review of last year’s Christ on a Bike: The Second Coming as ‘slightly pissy’ but we believe much kissing and making-up will occur when he asks, What is Love Anyway?
Udderbelly’s Pasture, Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, 6–29 Aug, 8.50pm, £12.50–£14.50 (£10.50–£12.50). Previews 3–5 Aug, £8.

Tim Clare

Using video lecture, stand-up, song and verse, this is Aisle16er Clare’s guide on How to be a Leader, in which he explains how he escaped a tooled-up heckler, reveals the Rules of Leadership and pays tribute to some of history’s most influential women.
Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, 6–28 Aug (not 15), 8.55pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9). Previews 4 & 5 Aug, £6.

Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen

Hosted by Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal, this cult New York variety show features comedy from some of the best acts around, along with new music and the occasional oddity. Time Out New York voted Hot Tub the Best New Variety Show, ‘Ranging from highly produced to positively bizarre, Braunohler and Schaal deliver some…

The Pajama Men: In the Middle of No One

  • 4 stars

A comic thriller about aliens and the quest for glory. 'The Pajama Men create a cartoon of the mind, a shape-shifting world in which anything seems not just possible, but imminent.' ★★★★★ (Guardian).

Hal Sparks - Evolution Overdrive

  • 3 stars

Jokes of the future, today! Hal Sparks is dissecting pop culture, not only because he's annoyed with it but because it points to where we're headed as a civilization! As seen on The Tonight Show and in Queer as Folk, Dude Where's My Car and Spiderman. ‘Escapes the American disease by having some worthwhile…

Claudia O'Doherty - What Is Soil Erosion?

  • 4 stars

Winner: Best Newcomer, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, 2010. This is the staged demonstration of the television series no one will let Claudia O'Doherty make. It answers the question 'what is soil erosion?' and includes lasers. Prepare to be zapped with lasers. Claudia’s last show, Monster of the Deep 3D won…

Mark Watson's 2012 Preview

Watson (from various TV and radio shows) unveils brand new material for his 2012 show, a year early. Anything could happen in these development shows. If you're coming, please email for a pre-show briefing. ‘The highest achiever Edinburgh has seen this decade’ (Times), ‘Simply…

Christmas For Two: Friends With You

Breakthrough stars of BBC Comedy Extra and BBC3 bring you elegantly odd mega jokes. Christmas for Two are BBC7 New Talent Winner Sarah Campbell and Amy Hoggart, twisted wunderkid and star of Channel 4's Million Hits. This scarily talented twosome bring tales of distinctly disturbing job vacancies, Ibiza club reps at…

The Three Englishmen: Optimists

  • 4 stars

Following their sell-out debut, the acclaimed sketch group return with an unmissable all-new hour of inspired comedy and music. Described as 'a confident, inventive sketch act … instantly likeable' by, the Englishmen have spent the year appearing to packed audiences across the UK and on BBC2. Now they…

BUG hosted by Adam Buxton

The Edinburgh debut of the BFI's smash-hit show. Sony Award-winning Adam Buxton shows you the most extraordinary, innovative and downright hilarious music videos from around the world in his own inimitable style.

Russell Kane: Manscaping

  • 4 stars

Join Fosters Comedy Award winner and star of loads of stuff on telly, Russell Kane, as he mercilessly explores the ridiculous state of masculinity in the modern world. He shaves his chest fur, you watch and laugh. 'A seriously good comedian’ ★★★★★ (Dominic Maxwell, Times), 'Russell Kane's new show is the finest of his…

David O'Doherty is Looking Up

  • 4 stars

2008 Edinburgh comedy award winner, 2010 Irish comedian of the year, founder member of Destiny’s Child, star of 2Fast 2Furious returns to Edinburgh with small keyboards / talking. ‘A triumph’ (Montreal Gazette).

Imran Yusuf - Bring the Thunder

  • 3 stars

A brand new show about unrelenting enthusiasm and perseverance from the star of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Edinburgh Comedy Best Newcomer nominee. Join Imran on his journey of having a dream and seeing it through, overcoming the obstacles of fear and opposition with unshakeable self-belief that took him from…

Nick Helm - Dare to Dream

  • 3 stars

Multi award-losing comedian and professional dick-kicker Nick Helm will sweat in a portacabin for an hour as he stamps out broken dreams and crushed hopes and dares you to Dare to Dream. Comedy, poetry, music, volume. Book early. As seen on Russell Howard’s Good News’ BBC3. Chortle Best Breakthrough Act 2011 nominee.

Des Bishop - My Dad Was Nearly James Bond

  • 3 stars

Following a critically acclaimed run at last year's Festival and a succession of sold out venues all over Ireland, Des Bishop is back with his most interesting show yet. Motivated by his dad's terminal lung cancer diagnosis, Des holds up the real heroics of fatherhood against the ridiculous macho ideals everyday guys try…

John-Luke Roberts and Nadia Kamil: The Behemoth

  • 4 stars

Massive sketch comedy, two normal-sized people. John-Luke Roberts 'Distracts you from a murder … Brilliant solo debut' (Independent), E4, BBC3, R4's ‘News Quiz’ and Nadia Kamil (R4, Channel 4, BBC3) return to the Festival with their cult sketch comedy show (Comedy of the Year, List 2008). 'Like being tag-teamed by the…

Tim Key - Masterslut

The Invisible Dot Ltd. Key (Newswipe etc) is doing poetry and getting sodden in the same manner as he did last year. A fusion of Radox, talking, standing around and aquatic filmage. Winner, Best Show, Chortle Awards, 2012. ‘This is sublime, busy and evocative work from a man who keeps getting better and better,’ ★★★★…

Josie Long: The Future Is Another Place

  • 3 stars

Josie Long is back again with her fifth Fringe show. Come along! This is a show about feeling newly tormented by the world around you and about optimism and despair. But that sounds more serious than it is. It'll be a silly, manic round up of all kinds of things. It will probably have a play in it where I play every one…

Who Are the Jocks?

  • 3 stars

Following the death of his mother, Scott Capurro waddles through the piercing loss of his best friend and coke dealer. She's in a jar and he's in Cardiff, trying to survive a menacing audience while handling his own grief. ‘Like watching someone trying to commit suicide by lynching’ ★★★★ (Guardian), ‘Rude and waggish…

Mark Thomas: Extreme Rambling (Walking the Wall)

  • 4 stars

Following his sell-out nationwide show The Manifesto, the award-winning comedian and activist returns with his brand new show. Never one to take the easy option, Mark decided to go rambling in the Middle East, walking the entire length of the Israeli Separation Barrier. This is the story of 300,000 settlers, a 750km wall…

Bridget Christie: Housewife Surrealist

  • 3 stars

In her first three solo Edinburgh shows Bridget was childish and silly, portraying historical characters and inanimate objects such as Charles II, a cheese roll, Guido Fawkes, Oliver Cromwell, The Fire of London and The Great Plague, using terrible costumes and without so much as a nod to the fourth wall. The following…

Omid Djalili: Work in Progress

Come and see Omid Djalili work in new material, as he prepares for his forthcoming UK tour. An Edinburgh Fringe Festival favourite, Omid guarantees you an hour of experimentation. Tickets for all shows £10. Book early. 'Right now, the Iranian Djalili is probably one of the most subversive, let alone funniest, comedians…

Josh Howie: I Am A Dick

  • 1 star

The guy on the running machine said I’m an asshole. The old lady on the bus reckons a cock. My wife thinks a twat. But they’re all wrong. I’m a dick. ‘Treads a fine line but he treads it perfectly. Both fascinating and funny’ ★★★★ (Scotsman) ‘A skillful comic whose ability to layer gag upon gag is unlikely to be…

Todd Barry: American Hot

  • 3 stars

New York City-based comedian and actor Todd Barry is widely recognised for his roles as the bongo-playing 'Third Conchord' on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords and Mickey Rourke’s deli boss in 2009 Oscar winner The Wrestler, and renowned throughout the entertainment industry for his nuanced, measured, and thoroughly original…

Joanna Neary: Youth Club

  • 2 stars

Where do you go when you’re 15, bored, living in a backwater and it’s 1987? Joanna’s delightful, hilarious story of teenage longing, crushed dreams, weak squash and table tennis. Youth Club is a brand new one-person character comedy inspired by Camborne Youth Club and about growing up in a town where there was once an…

Alun Cochrane: Moments of Alun

  • 4 stars

You may have seen him on YouTube, or on Dave, or on a panel game, or Channel 4, or just on a bus somewhere. Expect thinking aloud, chat with the audience, and Cochrane style stand-up. ’The best, as well as the most natural stand-up I’ve seen at the Fringe’ (Independent). ‘Alun Cochrane’s ability to make the little things…

Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in Zeitgeist Limbo

After the success of 2012's Twenty Seven Years On, Porky the Poet returns to Edinburgh with a new collection of poetry, and ponders the cultural conundrum: how low can you go?

Richard Herring: What is Love Anyway?

Does anybody love anybody anyway? So asked insane Welsh poet philosopher Howard Jones in 1983. Finally someone dares to answer. Having sorted out religion (Christ on a Bike), politics (Hitler Moustache) and penises (Talking Cock), the star of the award winning podcast As it Occurs to Me and Radio 4’s Richard Herring’s…

Carl Donnelly 3: Carl Donnelier!

  • 3 stars

Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Carl Donnelly (as seen on Mock The Week, Dave’s One Night Stand and Russell Howard’s Good News) returns to the Fringe for his third solo show. Join him as he adjusts to life without his trademark hair and tinted glasses for what promises to be an hour of hilarious tales and unbridled…

David O'Doherty presents: Rory Sheridan's Tales of The Antarctica

  • 3 stars

It’s 1917 and Rory Sheridan, Ireland's sixth or seventh greatest Antarctic explorer, delivers an illustrated talk on his not entirely successful journey to the south. 'A national treasure' (Irish Times).

Luke Wright's Cynical Ballads

  • 5 stars

‘The best young performance poet around’ (Observer) presents eight caustic tales from Broken Britain. Let him lead you through Blighty’s run-down shopping precincts, provincial high streets and airless television studios to introduce a cast of tone-deaf pop wannabes, terrorized single mums and baby-boomers with…

Paul Foot: Still Life

  • 3 stars

The walls of Baron Ryan Carter's castle have ears and a rudimentary mouth that whispers the 23 comments of old that changed the world – now in the hands and voice box of Mr Paul Foot. 'Quite simply he is mind blowing, so if you fancy your mind being blown Paul is one of the few comedians working today who can do it for…

Tim Clare: How to Be a Leader

  • 4 stars

Overthrown your corrupt government and wondering what to do next? Love democracy (in theory) but prefer power, golden statues and tons of sweet loot? Channel 4 presenter and award-winning author Tim Clare can help. ‘Has audiences hooting. Sublime' (Guardian), 'The most compelling performer on the Fringe' ★★★★…