Tag Archives: The Stand

Benefit Gigs: an easy way to organise a big night out at the Fringe

30 Jul
Photograph of Nish Kumar

Nish Kumar

Words by Suzy Romer

The beginning of the Fringe brings a sweep of emotions for anyone planning to venture into this magical annual pop-up world. Whether you are a beginner or a regular Fringe goer with years of experience, the initial encounter with the myriad shows on offer via the Fringe Guide, media and street posters can be very daunting. How the hell do you start to narrow down your options? Over the years, most people eventually develop their own methods but if you don’t want to put in quite so much time and money, one effective way to get a head start is to go to a benefit show.

A benefit gig comprises a variety of comedians who are raising awareness and funds on behalf of specific causes and organizations. There is usually a famous compère and a few well-known headliners along with a range of comedians who are famous to a greater or lesser degree. The great advantage of these shows is that you know you will definitely enjoy seeing the performers you already know and like, while you take a low-risk chance on a whole range of other comedians. The relative brevity of each performance means you pack lots of new comics into one evening. If they are brilliant, you can look into booking their solo show; if they are really not your to your taste, you can look at your watch and know that your suffering will end shortly. And there is always the possibility that you see one of the massive stars of tomorrow while they are still unknown.

For some of the bigger shows, you may be lucky enough to see some TV names who are not appearing in any other Fringe shows. Comedy celebrities often have many other commitments that keep them away from the wonderful month of August in Edinburgh but take some time out of busy schedules to visit the place where they enjoyed their rise to fame and give something back. Perhaps it is just an impression but most comedians seem to feel it is unnatural to be in Edinburgh in August unless they are actively participating in the midst of all the fun.

Benefit shows with their low risk, variety, famous names and the thrill of potential discoveries make them a safe bet for a group of friends with varied tastes. It’s also a great idea for an office night out because it encourages people see something beyond their regular list of favourites and maybe discover something new together. For people who have never been to the Fringe it’s like a microcosm of good, bad and everything in between without the time and money invested. And let’s not forget that it is a great way to ensure that corporate funding reaches the places where it can help most.

There are a couple of provisos to remember to avoid disappointment. Comedians have so many work commitments to juggle that sometimes they have to cancel an appearance at a charity event. When you read the words “line-up may be subject to change”, accept that it is more likely here than with other events. The upside is that some of the best performers make a late notice change in order to appear and the surprises on the night can make for lifetime memories.

Another thing to bear in mind is that more experienced comedians sometimes use a ten minute set piece from a previous year’s show because it fits better or because they want to save the full hour of their current show for the viewer’s surprise and delight. Other comedians will present a selection of material from their current show and give you a good indicator of the rest of their set.

Either way, once you know the deal, you can really get a lot out of a benefit performance. It gives you a real flavour of what is going on across the board and makes some of the street posters look more familiar and navigable afterwards because you can see names and faces you know. There is nothing like the joy of beginning to get a hold on what makes this year’s Fringe unique as the goodies and baddies of this year’s adventure begin to reveal themselves.

So what’s on in the way of benefit shows at this year’s Fringe?

Here are six benefit shows to give you an idea of the range available at this year’s Fringe.

1. Let’s start with one of the biggest events. You may have heard of famous long-running benefit shows such as The Secret Policeman’s Ball which was originally organised to raise funds for Amnesty International but has since donated to a variety of great causes. The shows include a host of famous names and have become so prestigious that the show title lends as much prestige to the performers as they originally lent to it. This year The Secret Policeman’s Tour is coming to the Edinburgh Playhouse on Saturday 24 August. It’s hosted by Deborah Frances-White and famous names such as Nish Kumar and Rachel Parris will be appearing. You can also check out Desiree Burch who appears on Punchline’s list of recommendations for 2019.

2. Another big night will be Comedy Gala 2019: in aid of Waverley Care hosted by Josh Widdicombe and Joel Dommett which will take place in the EICC on Tuesday 20 August. Now in its thirteenth year, this production has Jon Richardson and Suzi Ruffell topping the bill as well as Punchline-recommended Rosie Jones and Christopher Macarthur-Boyd as part of an impressive list of performers.

3. Another event with profits destined for the amazing Waverley Care is Crosstentatious at Underbelly at 9.30pm on Monday 19 August. Here, the phenomenal cast of comic performers who usually perform as Austentatious enact a spoof Jane Austen novel suggested by a member of the audience (their regular format) and cross-dress into the bargain.

4. For a fantastic late-night performance (quarter past midnight at Assembly George Square on Sunday 11 August) we recommend For Robin Williams: A Benefit in Aid of Mind and SAMH. Punchline favourite Nish Kumar is hosting this one and guests include Laura Lexx and Sophie Hagan.

5. Dame Esther Rantzen will be making an appearance in Edinburgh as the presenter of the Benefit in Aid of Silver Line (a confidential helpline for older people) in the Stand’s New Town Theatre at 9.10pm on Monday 5 August. The line up is still to be confirmed so anything could happen!

6. For lots of TV names, check out Barnardo’s Big Comedy Benefit at the EICC at 8.30pm on Wednesday 7 August. Ed Byrne, London Hughes and David O’Doherty are some but not all of the people you will recognise on the role of participants.

Remember, there are plenty more benefit shows out there so you can choose your favourite performers, good cause or, ideally both and have a great night out in the process. If you only put one finger into a comedy pie this year, a comedy benefit might just be your perfect pie.

The Best Shows at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe

28 Jul

The magic is about to start again and it’s time for your annual menu of events from Punchline. It includes some discoveries since last year as well as some classics. No doubt this year’s discoveries will become classics by next year…

 

Larry Dean: Farcissist

Pleasance Courtyard, 7.15pm

Remember the ice challenge on Facebook? Larry Dean is like that on stage; refreshing, surprising and occasionally shriek-inducing. He’s also as soft as a teddy and hard as nails. Larry will be the next comedy superstar. @larrydeancomedy

 

Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do

Banshee Labyrinth, 9.45pm

This is a tricky one to recommend because it’s not your normal comedy show. We don’t often use the word edgy but we will for this boundary-smashing comic. We can’t tell you what it’s about as it will spoil the show but as the man himself said, there will be walk outs. @MrRichardGadd

 

Sofie Hagen: Shimmer Shatter

Liquid Room Annexe, 7.50pm

Go and see the “Guilty Feminist” presenter whose podcasts might change your life. She keeps it real and gives you a new angle, reminding you that there’s another way to see the world. If you want to enjoy her wry intelligence ahead of the show, follow her on Twitter @SofieHagen.

 

Adam Hess

Heroes @ The Hive, 4.10pm

Adam Hess is the best supplier of free jokes on Twitter. With his bouncing energy, he is one of the main players in the much needed upcoming comedy yoof. His star is rising, so see him now if you want to show off about it in a few years’ time. @adamhess1

 

Jack Barry

Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 6.40pm

Jack’s self-depreciating, friendly manner belies his clever, occasionally twisted mind. He gives the impression of being your mate as he shares his personal view of the world and you’ll be reminded of what he said for days after the show. If you like a bit of sneaky profundity, he’s your man. @JBazzler

 

Fern Brady: Male Comedienne

The Stand, 12:10pm

We wouldn’t like to get into a fight with Fern Brady but we would kind of enjoy being defended by her. Sharp as a knife, with a style that’s different from other comics, you can’t categorise her in any of the comedy ratpacks. Surf on a new comedy wave with Fern Brady. @FernBrady

 

Casting Call Woe

Gilded Balloon at the Museum, 4.30pm

A privileged glimpse into the crazy world of minor acting roles where lazy scriptwriters let loose all their prejudices at once. The show is based on twitter account and viral blog sensation @ProResting. You’ve got to see it to believe it, and even then you won’t believe it. Each day, a different guest attends to share their most outrageous audition stories, so if you think you’ve had a bad day at work …

 

Burnistoun Live at the Fringe

Gilded Balloon, 9pm (4 – 16 August only)

Get along to this sketch group which pokes fun at the dodgier side of Scottish life. Don’t worry about how to pronounce Bunistonoun – it doesnae exist. A fairly rare opportunity to see these TV guys in an intimate setting. @Burnistoun

 

Then there are Punchline’s ALL TIME favourites:

 

Katherine Ryan (work in progress)

The Stand, 6.05pm (4-13 Aug only)

If you like the thrill of a fairground death-swoop ride and your laughs ripped out of you, Katherine Ryan will give you comedy that is as sharp and as terrifying as her heels. Be among the first to see her brand new material here. @Kathbum

 

Nish Kumar: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout the Words Real Loud

Pleasance Courtyard, 8pm

Tolkein said that “The most improper job of any man… is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.” Nish Kumar argues that comedians should not be politicians but with sparkling charm and wit, he gives you a better commentary on life in the UK than anything on BBC news. He’s also fucking funny. @MrNishKumar

 

Cardinal Burns

Pleasance Courtyard, midnight (23 – 26 August only)

Of course they’ve been on TV, but these guys have hysteria-inducing charisma onstage. Expect high energy comedy from performers who just morph into each new character and blow you away again and again. But remember, don’t try these jokes at home. @CardinalBurns

 

Bridget Christie: Mortal

The Stand, 11am

Beloved Bridget is back, a sort of brisk-mannered guru whose guide to life has audiences of all descriptions in thrall. She’s silly, she’s profound… she’s just what you need to make your morning scintillate. Don’t miss the best part of the day. Originally this was supposed to be work in progress about death ‘but then we voted to leave the EU, which is worse than death, and so I’ve re-written it.’ @BridgetChristie

 

Birthday Girls: Sh!t Hot Party Legends

Pleasance Courtyard, 9.45pm

If you don’t know these gals yet then GET A WIGGLE ON because they are a Fringe fun one stop shop. The title of the show could be a list of word associations to describe their comedy – hot comedy in a party atmosphere with a surprising quantity of jokes about poo. Three legends for the price of one! @BdayGirlsComedy

 

BEASTS Present Mr Edinburgh 2016

Pleasance Dome, 7pm

Oh the delicious anticipation of ruthless competition and monumental, messy arguments as the three lads we know and love tussle to become Mr Edinburgh. Scientific research and anecdotal evidence concur on this; Beasts prove that nice boys are the biggest beasts of all. @BEASTScomedy

 

Luisa Omielan

EICC, 9.30pm (26 & 27 August only)

This show is a rally to joy and a celebration of wanting what we’ve got as well as getting what we want. We want Luisa and we’ve got her right here in Edinburgh, for two nights only! Catch hit shows ‘What Would Beyoncé Do?!’ and ‘Am I Right Ladies?!’ at the EICC @luisaomielan

 

Tom Binns

Assembly George Square, 8pm

Tom Binns is like a bottle of Bollinger. Actually, he IS dry and bubbly, but what we mean is it doesn’t matter how often you go back because you know you’re getting the best. He makes it look effortless but this is world class character comedy. @tombinns

 

Lou Sanders

Pleasance Dome, 8.10pm

Another corker of a title from our favourite meandering meditator. Don’t be deceived by the dippy demeanor. She can and does do whatever she wants and doesn’t give two hoots about what anyone thinks. Happiness is an hour with Lou. @lousanders

 

Share & enjoy!

Punchline’s Top 10 Shows at the 2015 Fringe

4 Aug

Bridget Christie: A Book For Her

Bridget presents a wake-up show in every sense of the term. Grab your coffee and start your day with one of the brightest talents on the Fringe.

11am at the Stand. Info and tickets here

Nish Kumar: Long Word… Long Word… Blah Blah Blah… I’m so Clever

Nish IS very clever but don’t let that put you off. His material is bang up to date and he politely challenges your assumptions with unforgettable charm.

7.15pm at Pleasance Courtyard. Info and tickets here

Katherine Ryan: Kathbum

Punchline reckons this is your last chance to see Katherine before she hits the big time. This gal is going places so catch her while you can.

4.25pm at the Stand 3 & 4 (across the road and down from the main venue). Info and tickets here

Aisling Bea: Plan Bea

Have you seen her before? Probably. She’s on the TV more than you think. If you’re after a an hour of solid laughs and feel-good comedy, make Plan Bea your Plan A.

9.30pm at Gilded Balloon. Info and tickets here

Beasts: Live DVD

 young men who will make you shriek with laughter.  One of the best  legal highs this Fringe.

4.45pm at Pleasance Courtyard. Info and tickets here

The Pin: 10 Minutes with The Pin

This duo have earned their stripes over the last few years at the Fringe and this year it’s going to be a tiger of a show.

7.30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard. Info and tickets here

The Birthday Girls: Party Vibes

Another chance to see the show that makes any night feel like a Saturday night. Very funny. Very rude. High energy. Everything you want from a party. Lovely.

12.10am at the Pleasance Courtyard. Info here

Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job

This man had the Machynlleth Comedy Festival audience in uproar and made the compere laugh so much he missed his cue. Now Spencer brings the show to Edinburgh to make you laugh like you did when you were a child. It’s so funny you might be sick.

9pm at Heroes @ The Hive. Info here

Lou Sanders: Excuse Me, You’re Sitting on my Penis, Again

This is literally a gift of a show. She’s one of the highlights of the free fringe so you will want to give her lots of money at the end. For an hour of silliness, borderline hysteria and stealth thought provocation, see Lou.

7.30pm at Laughing Horse @ City Cafe. Info here

Angela Barnes: Come As You Are

Comedy Nirvana (sorry, it had to be done) from someone who makes sharp, unpretentious comedy seem like the most natural thing in the world. Think of a cold beer just when you need it; that’s this show.

8.15 at Pleasance Courtyard. Tickets and info here

A 2015 EdFringe Interview with Kai Humphries

3 Jul

Written by Susan Ford

Kai Humphries is so happy, he’s written a show about it for this year’s festival. And it’s not just a gimmick, Kai is genuinely one of the happiest and most likeable people you will ever meet. Not only is Kai a very funny comedian, but also spreads his joy over his jokes and through the audience. As Kai prepares for the Edinburgh Fringe, I caught up with him to discuss his new show ‘How to Be Happy’.

kaihumphries

Hello Kai, how are you?
Right now, I’m in my Pyjamas on a Thursday afternoon, I have to say, things can’t possibly be better.

Are you excited about performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year?
Extremely, not in an extremely excited bouncing off the walls like a crazy person, night before Christmas way, but in a chilled out “this is going to be freakin’ awesome” kinda way.

What have you been doing since last year’s Festival?
I’ve toured Europe, been to Dubai twice and been on 3 jaunts snowboarding, slinging jokes everywhere. But really, I go for my meal ticket.

Tell us about Punch Drunk Comedy…
You mean the best comedy gig in the world? It’s my baby, my venture with my brother to reignite the community spirit in my otherwise deprived home town of Blyth, once a month we turn out in force (300 strong on a Monday night) as we bring 3 of the world’s best comedians to an old social club concert hall. It’s more of a carnival than a gig.

How many years have you performed in Edinburgh, and what does the Festival mean to you?
6 years, the first year was to compete in some national competition finals, I hadn’t heard of the Fringe until I was up here in 2009 for the “So You Think You’re Funny?” competition and was instantly immersed in it with no warning. I came up for one night and ended up staying for the rest of the month. I haven’t missed a day of the Fringe since.

Tell us about your new show for 2015?
I’m going to use the hour to get to the route of my happiness; it’s a part of my personality that seems come up in every review of my comedy, it’s the one topic I really feel like I’m qualified to talk about. I’ll delve into the way I handle life, my outlooks and my relationships, analysing what it is that keeps me smiling and laughing my way through life and all of the things it throws at you.

What mood should the audience come to your show with?
Which ever mood they’re in when they arrive, whether that be drained from a hard week’s work, frustrated by city centre traffic, or simply getting out of the rain with no expectations and taking a punt on someone they’ve never heard of, it’s my aim to give everyone’s mindset a massage for an hour so they all leave with a big fat spring in their step.

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What is the best thing about the Edinburgh Fringe for you?
I live in Edinburgh and all of my friends in this industry, who live scattered all over the world, some as far as Australia, come over to visit. It’s like having a big house party that lasts a month and inviting all of my favourite people but instead of my house it’s the whole entire city.

What do your preparations for the Festival involve?
Annoying my flatmates and my girlfriend with “do you think this is funny?” every time something crosses my mind that could go in the show. My house gets really tidy and I become super organised because when I have a show to write for some reason every other area of procrastination has to be put out of the way first.

Will you be involved in any other shows this year other than your solo show?
Yes, I have the very prestigious honour of co-producing Set List, the Fringe’s number one concept show where acts get up and can’t rely on any of their crafted material, they have to riff with the Set List topics that appear on the screen behind them. It really is like self-harm for comedians, it’s exhilarating and terrifying but this risk taking ‘comedy without a net’ makes priceless viewing for the audience and an addictive adrenaline shot direct to the heart for the performers.

What other acts do you recommend we catch at this year’s Fringe?
Milo McCabe, Ronny Chieng, Carl Donnelly, Tom Stade, Daniel Sloss, Mark Nelson… if you go see all of those guys you’re going to have one hell of a good time this Fringe.

Follow Kai on Twitter/instagram: @kaihumphries or online www.kaihumphries.com.

Kai Humphries: How To Be Happy | 8pm | Gilded Balloon: Sportsman | 5th-30th August

Set List: Stand-Up Without a Net | 11pm (Midnight Fri-Sat) | The Stand | 7th-30th (not Mondays)

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