Tag Archives: Best comedy at Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Punchline recommends Mark Simmons: One Linererer

19 Aug

Photograph of Mark SimmonsWords by Susan Stewart

The Edinburgh Fringe is an excellent platform for comedians and performers to talk about big issues, and this year has certainly brought a lot of well-deserved hot topics to the forefront of comedy. However, sometimes you just need hundreds of jokes thrown at you really quickly, to momentarily forget how grey the world is outside. I know just the man to bring this kind of levity and joy: if you were wondering where all the jokes are, you can find them in Mark Simmons show, One-Linererer.

Mark’s show is everything you’d hope it would be with a title One-Linererer; it is full of fast, punchy one-line jokes, combining clever and silly in the perfect recipe.  It is a show that you need to be on board with from the start, because if you fall behind, you aren’t going to be able to keep up to the end.  Despite being a show of one-liners, Simmons sets up each punchline perfectly, with callbacks and themes that you wouldn’t think could even be possible.

Catch Mark Simmons: One-Linererer at 4pm at Banshee Labyrinth throughout August. This is a free performance, though we recommend a generous donation at the end of the show.

Punchline recommends Rosie Jones: Fifteen Minutes

19 Aug

Photograph of Rosie JonesWords by Duncan

Rosie Jones welcomes us warmly with a glint in her eye, ready to tease the audience with her sparkling wit and juicy surprises. She’s willing to take a joke to extreme lengths, Borat style, with gleeful enjoyment in the social discomfort of others. The fact that she has cerebral palsy is not in competition with her comedy but rather forms a central part of the creative process, and she is a comic force to be reckoned with. As the audience catch onto her style, she builds on the anticipation of her jokes with pulsating fun and she visibly relishes the shrieks and giggles that meet every surprise comment.

In the show she explores whether she would be funny if she were able-bodied Rosie with beautiful simplicity. She illustrates with utter clarity that every comedian brings everything that makes them them onto the stage, and any other comedian would struggle to make the same jokes as funny. Every once in a while a show makes a shift in your brain as you re-evaluate your assumptions. Hannah Gadsby did it last year and Rosie Jones did it this year.

Catch Rosie Jones: Fifteen Minutes at the Pleasance Courtyard at 8.30pm until 26th August.

Punchline recommends Ciarán Dowd: Don Rodolfo

17 Aug

Picture of Don Rodolfo looking thoughtful with swords sticking out of his chestWords by Suzy Romer

For an hour every night, Ciarán Dowd converts his venue into a box of delights. As soon as he fights his way onto stage, we are thrilled by his swishing sword, black frilled shirt and ravishing eye liner. Add in a Spanish accent (with Irish undertones), outrageous tales of derring do and a succession of filthy jokes and you have your evening made.

For anyone who has a hankering for a bit of Princess Bride, The Three Muskateers, Dangerous Liasons or Cyrano de Bergerac, this is an utter joy but he goes far beyond the format of any particular genre. Ciarán manages to simultaneously indulge every extravagant whim AND undercut his own cocky bravado with multiple layers of acting and jokes so pithy I wish I could memorise them and take them home. The pace of the show is phenomenal with wave after wave of new ideas, plot developments and theatrical devices, many of which are startlingly original and I say that with more than twenty five years of fantastic Fringe shows behind me.

You know you have attended an outstanding show when the audience spills into the fresh night air with energy and the vibrancy straight from the performer. I’d say we’d been Rodolfo’d but the man himself uses his name as a verb with a very different meaning. So rude. So good. Bravo señor!

Catch him if you can. Ciarán Dowd: Don Rodolfo is at the Pleasance Courtyard at 10.45pm until August 26.

Punchline recommends Kieran Hodgson: ’75

16 Aug

Photograph of Kieran HodgsonWords by Suzy Romer

Kieran Hodgson is a multi-talented writer and performer who masters any subject of his choosing. This year he provides a rich, frothy hour of comedy from the most unlikely of sources; the story of how the UK joined Europe. It turns out that there’s a heck of a lot we don’t know but that’s OK because we are treated to Kieran’s round-up of an actual shelf-load of books which he has absorbed, highlighted and dramatised to full comedy potential for our delight.

The script is thoroughly brought to life by marvellous impressions, gorgeous music, snappy lighting changes and Kieran’s ever-changing presentation of himself which veers between self-deprecating eye-rolling and unashamed flights of fancy. He is quick to point out his own errors of judgement and biases with cheeky asides that make the audience giggle.

It’s a great reminder that our perspectives are more flexible than we think, and that the ability to see different perspectives simultaneously is what we need to enjoy a joke as much as to get through political negotiations. There is no lazy disrespect for vulnerable targets here though, nor the desire to provoke anger and distraction from real issues and responsibilities. Instead, the show is a splendid attempt to get to grips with political events that affect us all and look for a kind, civilised way to take action. Forget the social media extremes and sensationalist headlines for an hour. Kieran does us the favour of reminding everyone in the room that whatever our opinions, there is always some common ground to let off steam and have a laugh. He finds the funny in whatever he touches and brings it to us in an easy-to-use format that makes the hour illuminating and highly entertaining.

Catch Kieran Hodgson: ’75 at Pleasance Courtyard at 8.15pm throughout August. Extra shows have been added at different times

Punchline recommends Darren Harriott: Visceral

15 Aug

Photograph of Darren HarriottWords by Suzy Romer

Spending an hour with Darren Harriott is as relaxing and entertaining as a great conversation with friends. His warm, easy-going manner has the audience laughing from his first words and before we know it, we are threading in and out of stories about his childhood and his current life in London. He constantly surprises us into laughter with his original viewpoint and adds a refreshing dash of common sense to unexamined cultural norms.

His flow and engaging energy never falter, which is a stunning achievement for a comic who presented his first full-length show at the Fringe last year. He talks about his experiences with an open simplicity of emotion that I have rarely seen, or rather felt. He deals with the difficult subjects of absent fathers and teenage gangs so that everyone in the audience can live the stories with him rather than merely glimpse an unrecognisable Other Life. He keeps his audience with him all the time by explaining references that different age groups might not get and we laugh together and at ourselves, not at each other. Darren Harriott combines intelligence and depth with a lightness of touch and flawless professionalism. I couldn’t ask for more.

Catch Darren Harriott: Visceral at The Pleasance Courtyard at 9.30pm througout August.

Punchline recommends Lazy Susan: Forgive Me, Mother!

13 Aug

Photograph of Lazy SusanWords by Suzy Romer

If you haven’t seen Lazy Susan before then this is the year to go. Every year there’s one show I have to see twice and this is it. They perform high-energy, engaging comedy with a freaky dark edge that sweeps you up from the beginning and takes you over completely for an hour of hysterical fun.

Celeste Dring and Freya Parker move in and out of formal sketches and their stage personas with skilful ease and apply their wicked sense of humour to fashionable concepts and popular expressions. They are particularly funny as wide-eyed, high voiced sisters who are cute and unsettling in equal measures. They also impersonate bad men too well to forget. Like all the best horror writers, they vary their subject matter until something really gets under your skin. The sketch that did it for me was one where a Ginger Rogers-like character tells a Fred Astaire-like character that he is repellent while he cheerily brushes off her words LIKE A PSYCHOPATH as if she were flirting with him. I hardly dare go back to the originals now.

The structure and writing of this show are absolutely flawless and as an audience member, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. These two performers know exactly how to make us laugh and keep us guessing until the bloody end, but perhaps I’ve said too much.

Catch Lazy Susan: Forgive Me, Mother! at Assembly George Square at 4.20pm througout August.

Punchline recommends Lou Sanders: Shame Pig

13 Aug

Words by Suzy Romer

You have to be in a room with Lou Sanders at least once in your life because a Lou Sanders show is one of the defining experiences of the Fringe. She deals swiftly with stragglers and her sparky one liners are a joy to behold. Once everyone is paying proper attention she relaxes into her unique style of delivery which has a meandering sway as she picks subjects from here, there and everywhere to examine for our delight and then moves on.

She has found peace on a lot of difficult subjects in her life and you know what? It has made her comedy the funniest yet. At Punchline we have always loved Lou but this year she is beginning to shine as the very best version of herself. Her material about sex is free of taboos and filters and she says some stuff I haven’t heard ANYone say out loud before. I know I am not the only one thinking this because there are very loud cackles of recognition from around the room while the rest are laughing and learning. Lou’s wisdom comes through hands-on trial and error and she shares her failures and successes with a candid cheeriness that enchants the room and tickles funny bones we didn’t know we had.

Catch Lou Sanders: Shame Pig at Monkey Barrel 1 at 12.30pm throughout August.

Punchline recommends Alex Edelman: Just for Us

12 Aug

Photograph of Alex EdelmanWords by Suzy Romer

When Alex Edelman introduces himself as a Jewish comedian who spends a lot of time in New York, I immediately think joyfully of comedy heroes like the Marx Brothers and Moss Hart. It’s a shock when it turns out that the abuse he gets online and in real life is as repulsive as it was in the 1930s. He opens with straight-down-the-line smart, funny jokes before introducing, with charming reluctance, the central thrust of this year’s show. Earlier this year, Bridget Christie firmly encouraged this non-political young comedian to confront the hatred of Trump’s world in his show.

This is where Alex’s comic genius comes into play. He does what many of us feel we should do and takes decisive action with civility and optimism. I don’t want to give much away but the particular way he goes about it is so funny, so true to his own unusual personality and so brave that by the end of the show you come out with a thrilling, not to say frightening, adventure behind you. The ending is so satisfying you can practically chew it.

Alex is an amazing story teller and shares delicious details about Stephen Fry, Prince William and the BAFTAs with wry generosity and a mischievous sparkle in his eye. His warmth and hard-won wisdom make it abundantly clear that he is going places quickly and that it would be a good idea to see him now while he is still in the delightful Cabaret Bar at the Pleasance.

Catch Alex Edelman: Just for Us at 8pm at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout August

Read Alex’s answers to Punchline’s questions here

Punchline’s 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Recommendations

7 Aug

Here they are! Our picks for this year’s Fringe. As usual, we advise you to see these acts live as YouTube just doesn’t do them justice.

Photograph of Alex EdelmanAlex Edelman: Just for Us

With sizzling stories ranging from Stephen Fry and Prince William to Nazis, this bright young comic sheds blazing light on current themes in Britain and the U.S.

8pm, Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets and information

Punchline Q&A



Photograph of Lazy SusanLazy Susan: Forgive Me, Mother!

An hour of comic perfection with a twist of horror that will stay with you long after the show. Who says sketch is harmless?

4.20pm, Assembly George Square

Tickets and information




Photograph of Darren HarriottDarren Harriott: Visceral

Easy going hour of top notch comedy from this incredibly assured comedian. Only in his second Fringe, he already has star quality. Get in there.

9.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets and information




Lou Sanders: Shame Pig

An afternoon delight with material as fascinating as it is explicit. Lou has a charismatic charm that has to be experienced live.

12.30pm, Monkey Barrel

Tickets and information




Photograph of Rosie JonesRosie Jones: Fifteen Minutes

After years of comedy experience behind the scenes as a TV writer, Rosie Jones is making a killer start to her stand up career with an impressive supply of wicked one-liners.

8.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets and information

Punchline Q&A



Photograph of Tim KeyTim Key: Wonderdate

Worshipped by many, Tim Key recently made a splendid short film, Wonderdate, for the BBC. This is the live show along the same lines.

11.15pm, Pleasance Courtyard from 16th August

Tickets and information




Photograph of Suzi RuffellSuzi Ruffell: Nocturnal

If you haven’t seen her on TV yet, you will soon. Suzi upped her game last year and this may be your last chance to see her in a smaller venue.

9.45pm, Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets and information




Photograph of Kieran HodgsonKieran Hodgson:’75

Kieran Hodgson reinvents himself yet again, this time with a new perspective on Brexit.

8.15pm, Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets and information




Photograph of Laura LexxLaura Lexx: Trying

Laura Lexx has reached a new level in life and comedy. She whetted our appetite with her fantastic Punchline Q&A and we can’t wait to see this year’s show.

5.15pm, Gilded Balloon

Tickets and information

Punchline Q&A



Photograph of Foil, Arms and HogFoil, Arms and Hog: Craicling

They have had a gazillion YouTube hits and deservedly so. High energy and polished sketches from this switched-on trio.

9pm, Underbelly

Tickets and information




Photograph of Felicity WardFelicity Ward: Busting A Nut

We’ve been banging on about her for years. If you have seen her you’ll know why; if you haven’t, get a wiggle on.

9pm, Pleasance Courtyard

Tickets and information

Punchline Q&A



Most shows are on every day until 26th August and some have a day off. Please double check details and availability with the venue.

Punchline Quizzes The Pin

19 Jul

Photograph of The PinWho puts your pants in the washing machine?

A man called Ian Wentworth who we honestly can’t recommend.

Which words make you giggle or give you an inner flip of amusement?

Cackling too hard to answer this properly – we’ll let you guess which word set us off. (it’s ‘make,’ uh oh, off we go again!)

Tell us about your favourite addictions.

The sitcom Frasier and cocaine.

What’s your favourite comedy routine of all time?

Always sharing a little hug before we go on.

Where is your favourite place to go for food during the Edinburgh Fringe?

The Savoy Grill in London – hell of a commute but wow what a menu.

What’s the weirdest thing an audience member has ever said to you?

“My name is Ezekiel Prendergast, and am I a sorcerer and tailor of fine repute.”

What have you learned about life through performing at the Fringe?

Exploit the weaknesses of others and make good use of your tech time.

If you could be in a sketch with any two living comedians, who would they be and what would the sketch be about?

Tim Key and a clone of Tim Key and the sketch would be about how much to tip the waiter and how has Key been cloned.

Tell us about a coincidence or piece of luck that led you to where you are today.

We definitely wouldn’t be writing this in a waiting room in Carlisle if we hadn’t unluckily got on the wrong train.

Who are you most excited about seeing this year?

Ian Wentworth – gonna finally tell the guy to get lost.

What can you definitely advise us against doing in Edinburgh?

Trying to galvanise the community into re-instating the title of ‘King of the Scots’ and nominating yourself for the role.


Catch The Pin: Backstage at Pleasance Courtyard at 8pm, 1 – 27 August (not 11 or 20)

After three multi award-winning series on BBC Radio 4, ‘the next Mitchell and Webb’ (Times) are back at the Fringe with a brand-new show that’s ‘hysterical’ (Independent), ‘masterful’ (Sunday Times), and ‘gorgeously skewed’ (Guardian). Expect a ‘very classy, very funny’ (Telegraph) hour from the creators of BBC Three’s Oi, Leonardo! and writers for Famalam (BBC Three) and Tracey Ullman’s Show (BBC One). As seen on W1A (BBC Two) and Wannabe (BBC Three). ‘The most exciting new comedy duo working today’ (David Walliams). **** (Times). **** (Guardian). **** (Telegraph). **** (Sunday Times). **** (Chortle.co.uk). ***** (Skinny). ***** (List).

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