Words by Susan Ford
As a comedian or performer, the beauty of the Fringe Festival lies in its ‘anyone can take part’ policy. The theory is, that as long as you have a venue willing to house your show, you can perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This is the spirit very much at the heart of the Free Fringe, a vital part of the Fringe Festival that showcases comedians who perhaps wouldn’t have the opportunity were the festival still in the hands of the elitist.
Anyone will tell you to take a chance on the Free Fringe, and admittedly there is something wholly romantic about venturing through Edinburgh and unearthing the best new comedians. However, let’s face it, the bohemian idea of allowing anyone to perform does not give much way for quality control. I guess, what I’m saying is yes, take a plunge in to the unknown and discover your favourite new comedian, but take on our recommendations before you go exploring!
It’s also worthwhile to mention that the Free Fringe is not “free”! The performers and comedians have spent their own money on production, travel and accommodation already and rely on contributions from the audience to get by. If you have enjoyed the show, be expected to show your gratitude with a donation, and please be respectful of this.
Now I’ve got my admin duties out the way, on with the recommendations…
Laughing Horse present a 60 minute joint show from one to watch Adam Hess and Chortle Student Comedy Award finalist David Elms. As part of super-sketch group Jigsaw, Nat Luurtsema performed regularly on BB3’s Live At the Electric: this year she presents her first solo show in three years also through Laughing Horse. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans’ (The Now Show, Radio 4) show has been described as “an interactive, digital, improv, atheist church service spectacular”, join them for their hour long joint set and see them live up to the hype.
Also in association with Laughing Horse are Glenn Moore and Eric Lampaert. Glenn Moore was So You Think You’re Funny 2012 finalist and Chortle Student Comedian 2011 runner-up, this year he invites friends to join him for his hour long show ‘Employees of the Month’. Eric Lampaert was a backing singer in Nick Helm’s band on Comedy Blap “I Fancy the Pants off of You”. Absurdist and energetic, Lampaert’s show is not to be missed.
PBH Free Fringe is bringing some great names to the Free Fringe festival. Luke Toulson is another comedian seen on Russell Howard’s Good News, and was nominated for a Perrier Comedy Award; his show is on in the beautiful Cabaret Voltaire throughout the festival. John-Luke Roberts is a comedian, writer and actor, and is bringing his new stand up show to PBH’s Free Fring this year.
Mark Stephenson has a plethora of comedy awards under his belt – Time Out’s One to Watch 2013, Chortle Best Newcomer nominee, Laughing Horse New Act of the Year, and Leicester Square New Act of the Year. His show ‘Half Man Half Amazing’ will prove how worthy he is of his awards collection. 2013 marks Jessica Fostekew‘s third solo show at the Fringe. In the last year Jess has performed on Stephen K Amos’ new BBC Radio 4 show , she’s appeared on BBC Breakfast (BBC1) four times and she has supported Micky Flanagan and Terry Alderton on tour accross the UK: don’t miss her Free Fringe show this year. Edinburgh Amuseum: Three’s A Crowd squeezes three up and coming comedians, all from Edinburgh, in to one show: Katia Kvinge, Eddie O’Dwyer and Rory Telfer perform.
Nathaniel Metcalfe has been doing stand up since May 2007, and went through to the semi-finals of the So You Think You’re Funny? competition after only five gigs: his free show this year allows him to indulge in his minor obsessions. QI Elf and creator of BBC2s ‘The Museum of Curiosity’ Dan Schreiber, is quite possibly the coolest person in the world. Or so he used to think: watch him explore many reasons why he perhaps isn’t, and I swear you will fall in love.
The Beehive’s Scottish Comedy Festival is a great way to experience the Free Fringe. Our recommendations for the Beehive are Ray Mearns ‘Waking Up Next To Myself’, Bob Graham ‘Animal Person’ and Pearse James and Martin Bearne ‘Comedy Has the Right to Children’. After sell-out nights at last year’s festival, Robin Grainger and Gregor Wappler are back with ‘Applause 2: Breaking Gags’ and is a must see this year, with each show featuring a special guest host. For the Beehive’s full line up, visit www.scottishcomedyfestival.com.
David Burke has a real knack for storytelling, he can make any story hilarious and charming all at the same time, hence the name of his new show ‘Exciting Adventures of an Uninteresting Man’. For an absolute guarantee of a giggle, catch Punchline favourite Ivan Brackenbury, radio DJ and very funny character. See him at the Fringe, and then join us in October to see Ivan play at Punchline in both Edinburgh and Perth.
London is Funny Presents… is the alternative variety comedy show. With the likes of previous performers Cardinal Burns and James Acaster, this show is a very valuable showcase of new talent. Marcel Lucont’s Cabaret Fantastique is another great free variety show that invites guests to perform in an hour of fun.
We hope you have found our guide useful, and that you make the most of the Free Fringe when it visits us in August. If you have any recommendations that you’d like to share with us, please do tweet us @punchlineuk.
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