Best comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017
- Brian Donaldson
- 11 July 2017
We pick out the must-see comedy shows that are already giving us goosebumps of excitement
The comedy section of the Fringe programme is refusing to get any smaller but we've opted to look upon wading through all those shows as a challenge rather than a chore. Whether your thing is sketch, mime, stand-up, double acts, character comedy or the downright unclassifiable, it really is all here in Edinburgh this August. Some of the names below will be familiar, others less so: but all are deserving of your attention as the Scottish capital hosts the biggest gathering of comedic talent in the world.
The man who loves nothing better than a one-word show title prepares to put intelligent ideas (with lots of jokes) in front of you.
Ahir Shah: Control, Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, Thu 3–Sun 27 Aug.
He's only half-joking when he claims to be the man who invented alternative comedy. After a wonderful return to the Fringe four years ago, it will be intriguing to see if the passion still drives him to great heights.
Alexei Sayle, Underbelly Med Quad, Wed 2–Fri 11 Aug.
Louis CK and Judd Apatow point to this New York satirist as a major influence. A rare opportunity for British audiences to see the man once dubbed a cross between 'Noam Chomsky and Bluto'.
Barry Crimmins: Atlas' Knees, The Stand, Tue 15–Sun 27 Aug.
We described last year's show from this Malcolm Hardee Award winner as 'not for the faint-hearted or easily offended'. Let's see what 'everyone's favourite Yiddish girl' has up her sleeve this time around.
Candy Gigi Presents: Becky Rimmer's Bat Mitzvah!, Heroes @ The Hive, Fri 4–Sun 27 Aug.
Doug Anthony All Stars
Also not for those who blush easily are this Aussie musical trio who blazed a trail at the Fringe in the late 80s / early 90s and returned last year with a show that positively rolled back the years.
Doug Anthony All Stars: Near Death Experience, Pleasance Courtyard, Wed 2–Sun 27 Aug.
Having set the bar rather high with 2016's Male Comedienne, the Bathgate-born comic continues her relentless pursuit for sincerity. Or does she … ?
Fern Brady: Suffer, Fools!, The Stand II, Wed 2–Sun 27 Aug.
Last Fringe's Whitey McWhiteface cranked the bearded joker up a level and his poking at the liberal-left this time around will surely have more tongues wagging.
Fin Taylor: Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey, Just the Tonic at The Tron, Thu 3–Sun 27 Aug.
The only act to have won both the Edinburgh Comedy Award's Best Newcomer and main prize makes his absurdist return after scooping the big gong in 2014.
John Kearns: Don't Worry They're Here, Heroes @ Monkey Barrel, Fri 4–Sun 27 Aug.
After somehow being denied the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2015 for the sublime Soothing Sounds for Baby, the Austentatious fellow is here with more multimedia ingenuity.
Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead, Pleasance Courtyard, Wed 2–Mon 28 Aug.
Firmly in the 'one to watch' category is the Geordie lass who has supported Katherine Ryan on tour and appeared on Drunk History as a courtier of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Lauren Pattison: Lady Muck, Pleasance Courtyard, Wed 2–Mon 28 Aug.
No one could have predicted the seismic news events of the past year, so is there any point in predicting what's about to happen next? With the help of his audience, the ever-inventive Thomas does …
Mark Thomas: A Show That Gambles on the Future, Summerhall, Wed 2–Sun 27 Aug.
My Dad Wrote a Porno: Live
Most people would hide from the world if their father penned a dirty book. Not Jamie Morton, though, who opted to share it with the world in a comedy podcast alongside the 'help' of two chums. And now comes the live version.
My Dad Wrote a Porno: Live, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Thu 10 & Fri 11 Aug.
The sometimes shouty, the sometimes whispery man from Uncle brings his Masterwork in Progress (that's confidence for you) to the intimate environs of the iconic Cabaret Bar.
Nick Helm: Masterworks in Progress, Pleasance Courtyard, Mon 14–Sun 27 Aug.
Game of Thrones fan and Austentatious member Parris delivers another stand-up / musical treatise, this time about whether it is actually possible for her to be a role model.
Rachel Parris: Keynote, Pleasance Dome, Thu 3–Mon 28 Aug.
So, what does a guy do after winning the biggest prize in comedy? One option is to return with that show the next year and give the poor folks who missed it a chance to catch-up. And anyone who fancies a second nibble at the Fifer's award-winner can do that, too.
Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do, Summerhall, Fri 18–Sun 27 Aug.
Having scooped a place for herself on the Edinburgh Comedy Awards shortlist three years back, Pascoe is in town again with LadsLadsLads, a brutally honest piece about life after a break-up.
Sara Pascoe: LadsLadsLads, Pleasance Courtyard, Wed 2–Sun 27 Aug.
Expectations are high for this Edinburgh debut from a commentator who will stick it to the religious right and other bigots of many shades.
Sara Schaefer: Little White Box, Pleasance Courtyard, Wed 2–Mon 28 Aug.
Fresh from his glorious Best Newcomer year, the Glaswegian is pondering this time around about his dad and whether he will be following in those footsteps.
Scott Gibson: Like Father Like Son, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Wed 2–Mon 28 Aug.
Why this impassioned and uniquely brilliant talent has not made the step up is anyone's guess. Could this finally be his year?
Sean McLoughlin: You Can't Ignore Me Forever, Laughing Horse @ City Café, Thu 3–Sat 26 Aug.
Best Newcomer winner from 2015, the popular Dane has a brand new show all about anger and a funeral. It will be funny, honest.
Sofie Hagen: Dead Baby Frog, Bedlam Theatre, Wed 2–Mon 28 Aug.
After his inspired one-man sketch and character show from last year, the talented Australian returns with (joy unconfined) more of the same exhilarating brilliance.
Steen Raskopoulos: The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess, Underbelly, Cowgate, Thu 3–Sun 27 Aug.
Old adversary Mel B probably won't be taking her seat to show her appreciation of the Kiwi's silent talents but thousands of paying punters will certainly be lapping it up.
Tape Face, Pleasance Courtyard, Wed 2–Sun 27 Aug.
The last poet to have won the Edinburgh Comedy Award bruises his way back into our lives with another barnstorming blitzkrieg of odes, verse and faux-outrage.
Tim Key: Work in Progress, Pleasance Dome, Mon 14–Sun 27 Aug.
Few comedians of our day are as uncompromisingly daring as the Navan firebrand. Stand back and watch a mercurial genius at work.
Tommy Tiernan: Under the Influence, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Fri 4–Sun 27 Aug.
The genial New Zealander has set himself the tricky task of not letting his one-year-old child upstage him. Good luck with that Trygve.
Trygve vs a Baby, Assembly Roxy, Thu 3–Sun 27 Aug.
Author, columnist, presenter and DIY enthusiast makes her Edinburgh debut with a show about how not to simply accept the way things are just because we're told to.
Urzila Carlson: First Edition, Assembly George Square Studios, Wed 2–Sun 27 Aug.
Whose Line Is it Anyway?
Almost certainly the original and the best UK improv show as Clive Anderson and co (Tony Slattery, Mike McShane and Josie Lawrence for three) adlib their way through August.
Whose Line Is it Anyway?: Live at the Fringe, Assembly Rooms, Thu 3–Sun 27 Aug.
Max & Ivan's cult hit half-nelsons its way back onto the Fringe calendar with comedians and wrestlers thankfully not seeming to know any better for our viewing pleasure.
The Wrestling, Pleasance Courtyard, Tue 15 Aug.