The much-lauded sketch group Massive Dad have spawned an impressive cult following over the last few years, but clearly that's not enough for them, the selfish so-and-so's. They want more. So they're teaming up with former Best Newcomer nominee & kooky double-act Lazy Susan. Just for good measure, there's a third act hopping onto this sketch-comedy supergroup bandwagon: Birthday Girls. The trio have had some TV exposure and so joining an 8-woman comedy show seems like the natural step up. The sum of these parts is Massive Lazy Girls, on at the Pleasance Courtyard. Lazy Susan also have their own show, Crazy Sexy Fool, in the same venue.
For the uninitiated (and presumably very sheltered), Austentantious is probably the most successful (read, only) Fringe show about improvised Jane Austen novels ever produced. It's been a massive hit in recent years, and is returning at the Underbelly once more. The meta-twist is that in a move neither proud nor prejudicial, some of its core members are branching out and doing their own shows this year too. Andrew Hunter Murray is debuting his solo hour Round One (Pleasance Courtyard) with character comedy and presumably a lot less period romance. He's also starring with Austentatious co-star Charlotte Gittins in improv show Folie à Deux (Pleasance Courtyard), which promises a similarly rich vein of absurdist skits.
While sketch veterans WitTank aren't joining up with 7 other troupes to stick it to Massive Lazy Girls, or even doing their own show this year, their constituent members are all braving the path of solo comedy. Kieran Boyd presents the elaborately titled Egg (Gilded Balloon) in his debut standup hour. Mark Cooper-Jones is Geographically Speaking (Movement). He's an ex-geography teacher, but we've been assured that this will be the act he's performed on Russell Howard's Good News et al, and not the one he did in classrooms. Naz Osmanoglu is returning to the Fringe for the third time with more standup in Exposure (Just The Tonic).
Robert Cawsey, of double act 'Guilt and Shame', is performing solo character comedy in Simon Slack: The Fantasist (Underbelly). It promises to be absurdist and wacky, which is to be expected when his co-star is something called Puppet 5000.
Sketch group Pappy's Tom Parry is directing three shows himself. Two are at Pleasance Dome: Mr Edinburgh 2016 in which fellow skit-merchants BEASTS perform and compete for the eponymous prize, and Max & Ivan: Our Story in which the similarly eponymous stars present a true, autobiographical story. The third is the new Sleeping Trees show Sci-Fi? at the Pleasance Courtyard.
There's more. Marny Godden, formerly of the Grandees, is back with another solo show, Where's John's Porridge Bowl. Jack Barry and Annie McGrath who comprise Twins (Two Balls in a Bag), also have solo shows. And then there's the Funz and Gamez/Gein's Family mixed contingent of Phil Ellis, James Meehan, Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Will Duggan. All doing their own thing.
Almost anyone who is anyone including, yep, Austentatious alumni, half of Max and Ivan, and Massive Dad stars, will be gracing the Jacuzzi stage, a cameo-fest from theatre school-cum-improv movement Free Association. With a revolving cast of...whoever's free, it could be that all roads at this year's Fringe lead to Jacuzzi.