Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The best comedy acts to see from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

The most interesting game each year is predicting which lesser-known names will have that magical August that propels them into the big leagues

The big names

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by Edinburgh, so it’s always good to book for a few reliable names in advance. May we suggest Bridget Christie, who returns after winning the ultimate Edinburgh crown last year – the Foster’s Comedy Award – with An Ungrateful Woman (2-25 Aug, The Stand).

Other previous award-winners to catch include stand-ups-cum-actors-cum-writers Will Adamsdale (31 July to 24 Aug, Underbelly, Cowgate), and Adam Riches (30 July to 24 Aug, Pleasance Dome), both making a welcome return to the Fringe after absent years.

Endearing purveyor of outrage, Josie Long, is also back (1-24 Aug, The Stand) – this time, swapping politics for luuurve …. We’re not sure what Susan Calman (31 July to 24 Aug, Underbelly, Bristo Square) will talking about, but given her show is called Lady Like, gender satire might just be on the cards? Mark Watson’s Flaws promises to be his most personal show yet (30 July to 24 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard), while grumpy old Jack Dee invites you to share your own problems with his panel of “experts” in Help Desk (18-24 Aug, Assembly George Square Studios).

The rising stars

The most interesting game each year is predicting which lesser-known names will have that magical August that propels them into the big leagues. Two strong bets, to judge by the gathering buzz, are festival first-timer Lucy Beaumont (30 July to 24 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard), whose wide-eyed persona and northern humour have inspired inevitable Victoria Wood comparisons, and second-timer Phil Wang (30 July to 24 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard), a former Cambridge Footlights prez whose dry, wry take on sexual and racial politics earnt him some raves last year.

On the free Fringe, look out for the buoyant Luisa Omielan (1-24 Aug, Laughing Horse@ The Counting House) following up her high-energy hit What Would Beyoncé Do? and character comic Ellie White (2-23 Aug, Viva Mexico) the latest talent from the prestigious Invisible Dot stable.

And, as for more experienced comedians on the cusp of a breakthrough, we’d keep an eye on policeman turned stand-up Alfie Moore (30 July to 25 Aug, Assembly George Square Studios), debonair dandy Tom Allen (31 July to  24 Aug, the Stand) returning with his first show in three years, and John Robins (31 July to 24 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard) a self-deprecating charmer with primetime TV appeal.

The imports

Edinburgh is a melting pot of international comic talent, but Russian stand-ups have never featured at the festival before, so big news this year is the debut of St Petersburg-born Igor Meerson (30 July to 25 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard).

On the other hand, this year’s programme is rather lacking in high-profile US names, though one to book for is B J Novak (19 to 24 Aug, Assembly George Square Gardens), writer and star of the US version of The Office, who will be presenting dramatic readings from his story collection One More Thing.

An as-ever strong Australian contingent as includes 2011 Comedy Award nominee and surrealist genius Sam Simmons (30 July to 24 Aug, Underbelly); Hannah Gadsby (30 July to 24 Aug, Assembly George Square Gardens), back after enjoying a breakthrough last year; and Tasmanian newbie Luke McGregor (1 to 25 Aug, Assembly George Square Gardens), whose winning, gawky neuroticism is encapsulated by his show’s title I Worry That I Worry to Much.

And then from Europe, the act that most caught our eye is German Lucie Pohl (30 July to 25 Aug, Gilded Balloon), thanks to both her genealogy – she is Bertolt Brecht’s great-niece – and material – her show will explore her predicament as a German-Jew with a lifelong obsession with Hitler.

The duos and troupes

For the first time in 15 years, Whose Line is it Anyway? is back at the Fringe … except they don’t have the title rights, so best call it Whose Live Show Is it Anyway? (6-19 Aug, Underbelly, Bristo Square).

Clive Anderson is joined by old regulars Greg Proops, Josie Lawrence, Stephen Frost and Colin Mochrie. Another cult TV series is resurrected in Knightmare Live, a returning stage recreation of the much-loved Eighties kids show (30 July to 24 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard) – and if that isn’t silly enough, try 50 Shades! The Musical (31 July to 25 Aug, Assembly Hall), an acclaimed US parody of the erotic-lit phenomenon.

Genre-mashing in a more subtle fashion are three of the UK’s hottest young playwrights – Nick Payne, Ella Hickson and Tom Wells – who splice comedy, live music and raucous storytelling in Symphony (31 July to 25 Aug, Assembly George Square Gardens). It’s not in your trusty programme, but don’t miss Fuckstorm 3001: Daniel Kitson, Andy Zaltzman and Alun Cochrane causing midnight mayhem (13-24 Aug, The Stand) – nor Jessie Cave + Emer Kenny, two feted young comic actresses bringing double the fun (31 July to 25 Aug, Laughing Horse @ Espionage).

The mavericks

It wouldn’t be the fringe without renegade celebrities bidding to amuse: this year, pick from Jeremy Paxman, celebrating post-Newsnight freedom with musings on facial hair and underpants (18 to 25 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard), and Nancy Dell’Olio on “surviving with glamour” (14 to 24 Aug, Gilded Balloon) in a show, propitiously, co-written by excellent stand-up Diane Spencer.

And, if that doesn’t scare you, there’s Christeene, a macabre Deep South drag queen whose show is an, ahem, “fluid” mix of punk, camp and pure filth (31 July to 23 Aug, Underbelly, Cowgate). Or enjoy a date with Red Bastard, where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction (30 July to 24 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard).

Controversial stand-up cum performance artist, Kim Noble, may also try to get close to you – his latest provocation, You’re Not Alone, explores modern loneliness (19-24 Aug, Traverse).

Others putting themselves on the line include Jess Thom, who has Tourette’s and literally doesn’t know what she’ll say in her Backstage in Biscuitland – though it’s likely the word “biscuit” will come up a lot (1 to 16 Aug, Pleasance Courtyard), and Rachael Clerke who will put her Scottish identity under the microscope – and dare to “go there” with the referendum – in How to Achieve Redemption as a Scot Through the Medium of Braveheart (31 July to 24 Aug; Underbelly, Cowgate).

READ MORE: Edinburgh Festival 2014: Best theatre shows to see
Edinburgh Festival 2014: Best dance and music
Edinburgh Festival 2014: Weirdest shows to see
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Being called a fat whale is part of my act
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss