Punchline’s Top Fringe Shows 2019

8 Jul

Christopher Macarthur-Boyd

Christopher Macarthur-Boyd: Dreamboat

This comic is going to be massive. He knows how to keep you on the point of losing your cool until he releases the multiple belly laughs. A precocious talent for his years in comedy.

9pm | Gilded Balloon Teviot

31 July, 1-11, 13-25 Aug

Buy tickets here and read Christopher’s answers to our impertinent questions here

Phil Wang

Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang

There’s a buzz in the air about Phil Wang and we’re thinking this is going to be his breakthrough year. He’s done the run-up; now watch him fly.

8pm | Pleasance Courtyard

31 July, 1-11, 13-25 Aug

Buy tickets here

Sophie Duker

Sophie Duker: Venus

You may have seen Sophie Duker on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order. Her material is on-point and she delivers with a light touch. Read her sparky answers to Punchline’s questions and then go see for yourself.

7pm | Pleasance Courtyard

31 July, 1-13, 15-25 Aug

Buy tickets here and read Sophie’s answers to our impertinent questions here

Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman: All Rise

Ron from Parks and Recreation. The US comic comes to the Fringe for one night only. Need we say more?

6pm | Assembly Hall on the Mound

24 August only

Buy tickets here

Lou Sanders

Lou Sanders: Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy

“Original” doesn’t seem quite enough to describe this Punchline favourite. Lou’s back with another cracking show title and we can’t wait to hear what she has to say this year.

3.15pm | Monkey Barrel

1-13, 15-25 Aug

Buy tickets here

Nick Helm

Nick Helm: Phoenix from the Flames

He’s back like a big fiery bird and we are expecting no less than majestic splendour from the ultimate showman.

5.40pm | Pleasance Dome

31 July, Aug 1-11, 13-24 Aug

Buy tickets here and read Nick’s answers to our impertinent questions here

Stephen Buchanan

Stephen Buchanan: Baby Dove

“One to watch” is an overused phrase but trust us on this one. With unstoppable confidence, Stephen is a fast-rising star in the comedy galaxy.

8.30pm | Pleasance Courtyard

31 July, Aug 1-13, 15-24 Aug

Buy tickets here

Tom Parry

Tom Parry: Parryoke!

It’s impossible to express how much we love Tom Parry. His endless energy brings joy and laughter to everything he touches. You’ll laugh your bum off. Look out also for the reboot of his hit show for children, Beetlemania, which comes thundering back to Edinburgh for more beetley antics.

Parryoke! is on at 6pm | 31 July, 1-12, 14-26 Aug | Buy tickets here

Beetlemania is on at 11.45am | 31 July, 1-13, 15-25 Aug | Buy tickets here

Both at Pleasance Courtyard

Stuart McPherson

Stuart McPherson: Mr. November

We’ve got an inkling about Stuart but don’t just take our word for it. He is a two-time finalist at the Scottish Comedian of the Year Award and Amused Moose finalist 2019 and he knows what he’s about.

1.55pm | Monkey Barrel

1-12, 14-25 Aug

Buy tickets here and read Stuart’s answers to our impertinent questions here

Desiree Burch

Desiree Burch: Desiree’s Coming Early

You’ll probably know Desiree Burch when you see her because she has recently been on everything you need to see including Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News for You and Netflix’s Flinch. She’s at the top of her game and a must-see comedian for 2019.

7.40pm Heroes @ The Hive

1-12, 14-25 Aug

Buy tickets here

Harry and Chris

Harry and Chris: This One’s for the Aliens

This is the only sketch group to get onto our list this year. They’ve got feelgood comedy, dancing, singing, messing about and all-round silliness. What more could you want?

6.40pm | Underbelly

1-24 Aug

Buy tickets here and read Harry & Chris’ answers to our impertinent questions here

Josie Long

Josie Long: Tender

A welcome return from one of the wisest voices in comedy. Leave your preconceptions at the door. Wrap up some new ideas and take them home to open later.

8.20pm | The Stand

1-11, 13-18, 20-25 Aug

Buy tickets here

Gareth Mutch

Gareth Mutch: The Old Man in the Carvery

This is one smart cookie. Settle in with this sparkling storyteller who packs in surprises and laughter at every turn.

8.30pm | Gilded Balloon

31 Jul, 1-13, 15-25 Aug

Buy tickets here

Ray Badran

Ray Badran: Everybody Loves Ray, Man

We’ve got a hunch about this Australian comedian’s debut show. Look out for his stylish poster and pick up a ticket ahead of the herd.

9.45pm | Pleasance

1-11, 13-25 Aug

Buy tickets here

All details correct at time of going to press but the Fringe is an unpredictable beast so please do check details before the show.

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Punchline recommends Laura Davis: Better Dead than a Coward

20 Aug

Laura DavisWords by Suzy Romer

Laura Davis is a big talent in a tiny venue, with more than a touch of magic. As you enter Bob’s Blundabus passed the bright cosy bar on the lower deck to go up the dark stairs, something flips in your brain and you are ready for anything.

Laura Davis owns the room (top deck) from the start and seamlessly takes a couple of unhelpful audience members in hand while treating the rest of us like we are already friends. She tells us she has been performing at the Fringe for twelve years and everything about her unique material and laid-back competence shows us how well she has used that experience. There are touches of Daniel Kitson in her ability to create visual images and take the audience with her but she has an absolutely original world view and does some ingenious material on moths and Facebook that should win some kind of literary comedy award.

Laura Davis can give extraordinary meaning to ordinary events with a warm, wry perspective that generates disproportionately big laughs in such a tiny space. She succeeds in talking about current world concerns without losing sight of the baffling peculiarity of human nature and manages to make us feel all the better for it. That’s no small feat these days, and if Laura Davis can bring together a disparate bunch of punters on a lightly swaying bus, maybe there is hope for some other stuff too.

Get tickets for Laura Davis: Better Dead than a Coward here

9.10pm | Heroes@Bob’s Blundabus | Until 25 Aug

Punchline recommends Sophie Duker: Venus

19 Aug

Sophie DukerWords by Suzy Romer

Sophie Duker is one of the hits of the Fringe this year with her star-bright, energetic, idea-packed new show. The moment she comes on stage, her alert, observant manner and scintillating delivery captures the full attention of the audience and creates a fascinating atmosphere of attentive connection which she maintains all the way through our wonderful hour with her.

She tells us that she is tired of being expected to represent everyone who is not white, male or heterosexual and takes us through some of the stereotypes about women of colour that she discovered and tried to avoid as she was growing up. Most of the audience are on unfamiliar ground here but she takes us with her on a finely mapped journey which delves into history, popular culture and her own life with an abundance of varied jokes and surprises that keep on coming with vital energy and consummate skill.

Her material displays an impressive balance of precise writing and playful delivery and I get the impression that she would be perfectly capable of developing each strand of her show into a fully developed hour of solid funny material if she decided to do so. I very much look forward to future developments but meantime, this show was fully satisfying with takeaway laughs and ideas to go over at home. Excellent.

Buy any remaining tickets to see Sophie Duker: Venus here (though hopefully you paid attention to our recommendation before the Fringe!)

7pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25th Aug

Punchline recommends Sara Barron: Enemies Closer

18 Aug

Sara BarronWords by Iain McLaren

I first saw Sara Barron at the Fringe last year with her Newcomer nominated show, For Worse. It was a great first year and one she has followed up with another impressive show, Enemies Closer. I love Sara’s energy and American style mixed with her now ingrained British self-loathing. Her ability to engage her audience with tantalising tales and straight-talking observations of modern-day life and relationships is something some comedians struggle to master but which she excels at naturally.

Sara lunges about the stage with electrifying enthusiasm as she shares with us her life after 8 years of marriage, before recounting, in explicit detail, the tales from her friends, who she now lives vicariously through in an effort to survive her “8 year rash”. She also delves into the heart of society and embraces her openly judgemental side as she guides us through just who is a good person and who is a (insert colour language here). No one in the world is safe, and no one should be.

Grab your tickets now and enjoy the show as much as I did!

Buy tickets for Sara Barron: Enemies Closer here  

8.30pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25 Aug

Punchline recommends 30 minute wonder shows: Krystal Evans and Amy Matthews

15 Aug

The most common format for shows at the Fringe is the hour-long spectacular. While this is great, not everyone has time to spare, especially during the week. This year however there seem to be a range of 30 minute shows showcasing some great talent which you could take in over a lunchtime.

Krystal Evans: Fishnets

First up we are recommending Krystal Evans with her show Fishnets. Krystal has a great conversational style which instantly puts you at ease as she tells you about her home, family and masturbatory habits. OK so maybe not for all ages but for the adults this one will leave you wanting more with a big smile on your face. We hope she brings a full hour back next year.

Buy tickets for Krystal Evans: Fishnets here

12.30pm | Monkey Barrel Comedy | Until 25 Aug

 

The Life Aquatic with Amy Matthews

I was really looking forward to this show after seeing Amy on BBC’s Comedy Underground. I like a performer who gets on stage and owns it. Amy is a comedian who is going places and her 30 minute set shows it. I loved the whimsy, the tales, the cleverness and the younger look at modern life all delivered with the wisdom and humour of someone much older.

Buy tickets for Amy Matthews: The Life Aquatic with Amy Matthews here

13.10pm | Monkey Barrel Comedy | Until 25 Aug

 

Both these shows are pay-what-you-want but we recommend buying tickets to guarantee your seat. See them separately or as a double bill as they are in the same venue (you’ll need to come out in between shows!)

Punchline recommends Adam Riches: The Beakington Town Hall Murders

14 Aug

Adam RichesWords by Suzy Romer

Audience participation has always been a thrilling, essential feature of Adam Riches’ shows. Over time he has created innumerable styles of interaction and honed his skills when treading that waffer-thin line between audience trust and unpredictability. The atmosphere of this year’s show is particularly delightful and makes me smile just thinking about it.

On this occasion, the audience are all members of a town council where a misjudged tombola prank has resulted in the untimely deaths of ten tortoises and one of us is the murderer. Our interrogator is none other than Victor Legit, a starring character of previous shows, and once he appears (after a glorious intro) we really get down to business.

From beginning to end, the show feels like going to one of the best parties ever. The perfect cross-over between brilliant character comedy and a great big daft game is so utterly absorbing that an hour slips by in carefree joy. I say this as one of the people ordered onto the stage but our host is so expert at judging who’s up for playing along that pretty much everyone involved gets exactly the right amount of lime light. Do I remember what he said half the time while onstage? No. Is it a bit hypnotic? Yes. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

Thanks to Adam’s spectacular comic dexterity, the type and scale of participation, special effects and splendid surprises build up with unstoppable momentum. We giggle, dance, sing, snort and cavort our way towards a comedy climax which is made all the more intense by the knowledge that not a soul in the room knows exactly how it will turn out. Every day is different. This particular performance ends in glorious triumph as the murderer is caught and punished in fitting Adam Riches’ style. He is one of the performers who makes the Fringe so heady and so wild. Comedy heaven.

P.S. Look out for a slinky cameo from Ben Target who is also performing at the Fringe

Buy tickets for Adam Riches, The Beakington Town Hall Murders here

7.50pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 26 Aug

 

 

There’s No Festival Like Edinburgh

13 Aug

Royal MileWords by Rosalind Romer

There has been a lot of animosity towards the Festival this year. The curmudgeons complain every year and the bubble has supposedly been about to burst for decades, but this year seems to have gone up a gear. There is enough vitriol at the moment. Like many others, I am stressed out and fearful because of Trump, Johnson, Brexit, climate deadlines getting closer… the list goes on. The Festival has let me breathe. I see that other people feel the same way, performers are processing and reflecting those fears through art and starting conversations which could change the world. Views are being challenged and minds are being opened.

Enter Bonnie Prince Bob and his rant that’s gone viral. I have tried to ignore him like a troll, hoping it would go away but people are still repeating his opinions. It has got to me, tipped over the edge by an Edinburgh taxi driver who after various lazy comments about how awful the Festival is (despite being his busiest month for making a living) proudly announced that he has never seen a show during the Festival. He also said that I had a “well-trained” partner because he took some time off work to spend time with our one-year-old and enable me to work during the Festival. A snarl came out of my mouth and he started talking about the weather.

So. Bonnie Prince Bob. I have risen to your clickbait so here goes.

One point I totally agree with is the spike in rent in August. The only people who benefit are greedy property owners. This is an unfortunate by-product of the success of the Festival, but it’s supply and demand. As long as human beings can get away with it, they will. So legislate. Cap the rent. Maybe some of the figureheads of the Festival can help with this, so appeal to them, don’t write them off.

Harry Potter and shops selling tat on the Royal Mile? Yup, it’s tacky. It’s got nothing to do with the Festival. It’s tacky all year round. Speak to the Council.

The Festival does not help every single person in Edinburgh, but does anything? Many people in poorer areas do find it prohibitively expensive to come into town. But that’s not the Festival’s fault and again, it happens all year round. Appeal to Edinburgh Council and Lothian buses to make journeys more affordable. Speak to the Scottish Government and Westminster to stop poverty in our ridiculously wealthy country. Stopping the Festival will not eradicate poverty. Should we shut down the museums in the centre of town while we’re at it? No, that would be crazy. Many all-year-round attractions and Festival events are free, and the provision for free children’s entertainment has grown in recent years.

And what about the mini-Wimbledon accusation? Many of the food stalls are from Edinburgh, and many of the consumers are not. So bringing money into local businesses is a good thing, isn’t it? As for the locals or those staying in a flat for a month, you can bring a sandwich and a lot of bars put a jug of tap water on the bar for you to help yourself. As for the “Etonian Oligarchy”, I can only assume you mean Ed and Charlie from Underbelly. The percentage of Etonians at the Edinburgh Festival is miniscule compared to the Conservative Government. Is it not better to overcharge people for drinks in a gorgeous beer garden (and yes, take some of the profits back to London, but they do have an office in Edinburgh all year round) than to systematically fuck up the country like their schoolmates? Plus they have some excellent shows to open your mind or even escape from reality for a little while. And if you really can’t stomach it, there are hundreds of other venues. Loads of venues have events and bars in Edinburgh all year so go and support them if you prefer. It’s your choice. As far as I am concerned, people from the rest of the UK and people from abroad are all welcome.

Another criticism over the last few years has been the exploitation of workers, which makes a bit of sense from the outside. However, many venue workers get accommodation and a venue pass, as well as their pay in a lot of cases. For the people who would spend every last penny on shows, this is worth thousands of pounds (see accommodation above). The festivals support over 2500 jobs in Edinburgh, which can only be a good thing. You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. It’s the chicken and egg situation all over again. Yes, the Living Wage is an admirable aim, and supermarket giants can afford it, even if they don’t pay it. Yes, 6-month unpaid internships with no accommodation are exploitation, and can only be taken up by the wealthy. Flyering for one month and seeing a ton of free shows you wanted to see anyway is hardly the same thing.

The festivals can’t afford to pay more, and already rely heavily on rapidly reducing arts funding and corporate sponsorship (which also comes under fire in Bonny Prince Bob’s rant). Living wage would break them. The big venues come under fire for the huge percentage of ticket sales they take (usually 40%) but it’s not like they are spending it on cigars and lobster (well, maybe at the lobster van on Bristo Square). The costs of running a venue, including marketing, staff, often building theatres from scratch, sound and lighting equipment and health and safety are colossal. The Free Fringe operates on a bucket system so it’s possible to make a bit of money (or lose less once accommodation is taken into account), but you may or may not be in a rowdy pub with bright lights and pub furniture spoiling sightlines. There are pros and cons for each but that’s for another time.

Yes, town is busy and it takes ages to get to work. It’s annoying, I know. But it’s one month of the year and it shouldn’t be a surprise by now. And hey, maybe you’ll even have some fun or learn or feel something watching a show. For me the highs far outweigh the irritations.

If you don’t like the Festival, fine, but don’t ruin everyone else’s fun. I am one of the two thirds of locals who have seen Festival shows in the last two years, so don’t you dare speak for us when you say there’s no Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Festival.

And breathe. Let me describe some of my Festival experiences in the last two weeks.

I have roared with laughter at Jessica Fostekew’s Hench until my whole body ached, along with everyone else in the audience. That group of people will never be together again but we shared a sense of camaraderie that day. Jessica made me realise that the pain of childbirth wasn’t my fault, that somehow if I’d breathed “better” it wouldn’t have ripped me apart, physically and emotionally. Thank you, Jessica Fostekew, for letting me see how ridiculous that idea was.

I have sobbed my eyes out in the Pleasance Courtyard after seeing the incredibly powerful show by Bryony Kimmings, I’m a Phoenix, Bitch. Her show is about a trauma and subsequent recovery. As I mentioned, I have a one-year-old, who happened to be getting a routine check-up at the hospital that night. If you’ve seen the show you’ll get the significance. He’s fine and was always going to be fine that evening, which is why I went to see a show, but I sat with an excruciating amount of guilt, which by the end of the show was released forever from somewhere deep inside. Thank you, Bryony Kimmings.

Before the Fringe, I did a series of questions for my favourite comedians. One question asked who or what each act would like to have waiting for them after the show. Amy Matthews had answered with a very specific beer and it was too tempting to resist. I put a big red shiny bow on the can of beer and presented it to her after the show. The look of excitement, confusion and joy on Amy’s face was wonderful. I know I technically gave you the present, but thank you, Amy Matthews. Your reaction made me so happy.

Yesterday I ended up seeing an amazing sold-out show because I bumped into a friend whose brother (who I had never met) had a spare ticket. We watched the show like we were old friends.

I realise these mean far more to me than you, but they are examples of the interaction you can enjoy if you embrace the spirit of the Fringe. It’s the deeply personal nature of the shows and human interaction that make the Festival so magical for me. Edinburgh hosts the greatest arts festival in the world and it is something we should all be immensely proud of.

To the taxi driver, thank you for making me realise that your opinion doesn’t change my experience. This Festival matters to me and to thousands of others. And to everyone who says they don’t like the Festival, maybe it’s time you gave it a try rather than churning out old clichés. And if it’s really not your thing, let the rest of us have some fun.

Punchline recommends Sam Taunton: It’s Nice, It’s Modern

13 Aug

Sam TauntonWords by Suzy Romer

For a lovely, friendly hour of feel-good comedy from a new name at the Fringe, look no further than Sam Taunton. He is warm, charming and self-depreciating, perhaps a little too self-depreciating but he is young and will one day stop using his ex’s words to describe himself. There’s a reason why she’s an ex!

Sam fills the show with smart observations and great stories which include all the extra flyaway comments that turn giggles into belly laughs. He covers a good mix of subjects including family, drugs and gigging in Australia. From the sound of it, he is more used to playing to boisterous crowds in Australian bars than to quiet, attentive Edinburgh audiences in converted university spaces but he adapts beautifully and ad-libs with poise and style.

Sam Taunton has good, solid material and the standard is consistently high. Look out for his name in the future.

Buy tickets for Sam Taunton: It’s Nice, It’s Modern here

7.40pm | Assembly George Square | Until 25 Aug

Punchline recommends Tom Parry: Parryoke!

12 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

If Tom Parry’s name is attached to any show as a writer, director or performer, you can guarantee it will be a great laugh. Parryoke! is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an hour in the vibrant, effervescent company of the Renaissance man of comedy.

This is his most strictly stand-up show so far, even more so than his last solo show. He tells some memorable anecdotes, shows us some unforgettable photos and connects with us through ever-so-gentle audience participation which even the most entrenched introvert will love. There are plenty of ‘nineties references which, far from being simply nostalgic, are tied into an exploration of wider themes, and he provides new laughs on the subject of Christmas presents, weddings and football. Then there’s the actual singing (never too much and always funny) and the richest comedy material about karaoke I have ever heard.

This is smart, sparkling feel-good comedy which is deliberately presented with no dark side; perfect for anyone who wants the comedy equivalent of a good pub with no TV news screens. Our multi-talented host knows exactly how to use his arts to bring us together for an hour of non-stop fun, and there are smiles and laughs all round.

Buy tickets for Tom Parry: Parryoke here

6pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 26 Aug (not 13)

Punchline recommends Josie Long: Tender

11 Aug

Josie LongWords by Suzy Romer

Josie Long has been pretty busy with a baby for the last 13 months but this Fringe she is back in comedy and has a great show at the ready. She has that marvellous standing in comedy now which creates a warm atmosphere even before she comes on stage because everyone is anticipating her arrival and knows she will be brilliant. We’ve missed her!

She greets us with a delightful song (which she claims is not a skill but it really is) before sharing some ideas about baby-related sleep deprivation which make us roar with laughter and fix any lingering bother in those of us who remember that phase with discomfort. Josie has an amazing conversational style where you almost forget you aren’t taking part in the monologue. She treats big and small subjects with the analysis and humour they deserve and boldly faces fears about politics and climate change with admirable power and perception.

Josie doesn’t simplify topics for the sake of a quick joke because her comedy comes from a deeper, more complex outlook. Life isn’t always easy and neither is her material but her dynamic ability to find the best bits and revel in them with us is a welcome pick-me-up to us all.

Buy any remaining tickets for Josie Long: Tender here

8.20pm | The Stand | Until 25 Aug

Punchline Recommends Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face

7 Aug

JaydeAdams2019

Words by Iain McLaren

I first saw Jayde Adams 2 years ago. First as part of the Pleasance Opening Gala with her iconic Pavarotti on the bus routine then her full show from the same year. I was struck by her power and her stage presence. She was brilliant. Adams is best known for her bright flamboyant shows with lots of dancing and singing. This year she has taken the potentially risky tactic of stepping out of her comfort zone and delivers more of a stand up based show.

After reflecting on her career to date, Adams has brought to the Fringe a show which looks at modern day feminism from her own viewpoint where her family household was run as matriarchy. Is Adams the new hero for this generation’s young women? Maybe not but she explains how her own journey led her to many discoveries and how it has shaped her own opinion of 4th wave feminism.

While this might be a more serious show from Adams, it lacks none of her humour or forceful nature which she is known and loved for. She might have stepped out of her comfort zone, but she walked right into another brilliant show and amazing performance.

This show is selling fast, if you want to see one of the best performers at the Fringe get your tickets now!

 

Buy tickets for Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face here

9.30pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25 Aug

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