Comedy Picks

Comedy critic Paul Fleckney picks out the best of the best of the Fringe comedy programme

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 5 minutes
Published 18 Jul 2018
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Janeane Garofolo: Put a Pin in That

Elf Lyons: ChiffChaff, Pleasance Dome, 1–27 Aug, not 13, 6:50pm

One of those performers who you feel just loves performing. Her chaotic dress-up-box rendition of Swan Lake last year seemed like a childhood ambition come true, and was steeped in joy, talent and natural comic chops. This year her show is a musical that’s named after a type of warbler and is about the economy. Now that’s showbiz.

Natalie Palamides: Nate, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, not 13, 6pm 

A comic capable of great things. Indeed her debut last year, Laid, wasn’t just gloriously messy, it was smart, funny and bold as hell. This year she turns her attentions from femininity to masculinity, dragging up as likeable douchebag Nate. Don’t expect it to be straightforward, do expect it to be memorable.

Alex Edelman: Just for UsPleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, 8pm

Clever-clever East Coast American liberal standups are some people’s worst nightmare, but those people are wrong. Edelman won Best Newcomer in 2014 and, despite his youth, he already felt like a standup thoroughbred. He’s back to hopefully prove that was no fluke.

Glenn Wool: Wool's Gold II, Just the Tonic at The Tron, 2–26 Aug, not 13, 6:20pm

Every year I write that Glenn Wool is the best standup at the Fringe and every year it’s true. It’s a joke that he’s on the Free Fringe, waiting there with his bucket at the end like a rookie, but he doesn’t seem that worried. Go and let a hairy Canadian show you how its done.

Janeane Garofalo: Put a Pin in That, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 1–19 Aug, not 13, 9:15pm

Arguably the biggest name to hit the Fringe this year. Garofalo has been doing comedy for more than 25 years now, and has also notched up numerous acclaimed roles on film and TV (The Larry Sanders Show, Ratatouille, The Truth About Cats and Dogs). This year the outspoken standup brings new show Put a Pin in That to Edinburgh, her first visit to the festival since 2013.

Sheeps: Live and Loud Selfie Sex Harry Potter, Pleasance Dome, 1–27 Aug, not 10, 11, 25, 7pm

A bunch of mates who have a unique chemistry and write funny stuff together: that’s how a sketch group should be, no? That’s what Sheeps do/are, and the lads are back after a break with more of their deliciously knowing bantz. NB. Sketchy clever-dicks The Pin are also back and also great.

Kwame Asante: Teenage Heartblob, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, not 15, 9:45pm 

A standup who’s so nice I’ve wondered whether he’s too damn nice for this standup game. It turns out you can be a gentle soul and bloody funny too, which is a reason for hope. Asante takes an August sabbatical from his career as an A&E doctor to be a comic, and chances are he’ll find your funny bone (sorry).

Flo & Joan: Alive On Stage, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, not 11, times vary

Simultaneously twee and dark, Flo and Joan are like Blue Peter presenters who are capable of kidnap. If you haven’t seen either of their two previous shows—or indeed their Nationwide adverts—they write funny songs that are everso English in their politeness, wit and dark underbelly.

Mr. Swallow and the Vanishing Elephant, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, 7:30pm

Nick Mohammed is one of those renaissance men types who you feel could make a career of anything he puts his mind to. Lucky for us he’s alighted upon comedy, and with his unique comic/magician creation Mr. Swallow, he has produced outstanding shows in tribute to Houdini and Dracula. This year his show is called Mr. Swallow and the Vanishing Elephant. Surely not…

Kate Berlant: Communikate, Assembly George Square Studios, 1–26 Aug, not 13, 9:15pm

A sharp, charismatic comic who’s on the up up up. She’s best known in her native US for her video series 555, made with fellow standup John Early about Hollywood and its hyper-ambitious residents. She’s a terrific standup too and this is her debut show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Mat Ewins: What Sorry? My Mistake! The Doors Are Not Open; The Show Has Been Cancelled. Do Not Have Your Tickets Ready!, Just the Tonic @ The Mash House, 2–26 Aug, not 13, 8:50pm

Mat Ewins’ loyalty to his stinking dungeon of a venue has been admirable, but finally he’s branched out to a new room where he will hopefully be seen by more, and more comfortable, people. He’s cheeky, he’s fast-paced, he’s a relentless gagsmith who tells his jokes via “multimedia” (ie screens). 

Jordan Brookes: Bleed, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, not 14, 8:30pm

A twisty, sinewy standup who always reminds me of Jez in the Rainbow Rhythms episode of Peep Show, Brookes is graphic and confessional, which isn’t original in itself, but the way he does it very much is. Two Edinburgh Comedy Award nominations in, and Brookes may have his eye on the big one.