While we love the Fringe veterans, the seasoned pros for whom tickling an Edinburgh audience comes as second nature, it’s also a great time to catch the newcomers, the potential stars looking to light things up and make their name at the biggest arts festival in the world.
We’ve picked out ten debut shows from this year’s Fringe programme – a mixture of promising talent and first-timers who you should be making time for in your schedule.
1. Kevin J: Council Estate of Mind
Kevin J comes to Auld Reekie with this debut hour, after a successful dip in the Fringe waters last year with Urban Truth. Kevin’s comedy route has been unconventional – with appearances on MTV and gigs in Nigeria – but this examination of the council estate of his youth, leaving for university and his own family looks promising.
Aug 5-30: Gilded Balloon, Teviot Row House, listings
2. Darren Walsh: Punderbolt
Like your puns thick and fast? Darren Walsh is one of the best in the business. The English comedian will be packing the short, sharp gags for his debut hour at the Fringe this year – accompanied by surreal animations, sound effects and video. Laugh early, laugh often.
Aug 5-31: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, listings
3. George Egg: Anarchist Cook
You’ve got to respect a man who can cook a tortellini using a hotel trouser press. George Egg was dissatisfied with culinary options he found at hotels whilst touring on the comedy scene, so instead took matters into his own hands – by becoming the hotel room chef. With live demonstrations, video and (obviously) jokes too – Egg’s guerilla approach to cooking is an interesting prospect for a Fringe debut.
Aug 5-31: Gilded Balloon, Teviot Row House, listings
4. Steve Bugeja: Day Release
In the days of stand-up comedy as a Northern working men’s club pastime, we reckon Steve Bugeja would have been eaten alive. Fortunately, times have changed and now there’s plenty of space for geeky comedians with squeaky laughs. In his debut hour Day Release, Bugeja is discussing a turn of events which saw him pick up a bride’s father for a wedding – with the man being out of prison for the first time in 18 years. We’re already preparing ourselves for the story of that exchange.
Aug 6-30: Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 37 Guthrie Street, listings
5. Ari Shaffir: This is Not Happening
Fearless American comic Ari Shaffir is making his Fringe debut with a live version of This Is Not Happening , a Comedy Central show where comedians share true stories which are often embarrassing. These comic confessions can have you gripping your seat at the awkwardness, but Shaffir seems to thrive on that tension – making him a hilarious compère.
Aug 6-30: Pleasance Dome, Potterrow, listings
6. Fern Brady: People Are Idiots
For a comedy festival taking place in the capital of Scotland, you can often be surprised at the small selection of native comedians on offer. Fern Brady is a near-the-knuckle Scottish comic delivering sharp routines and strong political opinions. TV panel spots are just the tip of the iceberg with Brady.
Aug 6-30: The Stand, 5 York Pl, Edinburgh listings
7. James Hamilton Is So Lonely
Hamilton is no stranger to the festival scene, having performed for five years with surrealist sketch group Casual Violence – however this time James will be on his own, having built a dark world of strange comedy for himself. A mixture of time travel and tragedy is enough to have us intrigued.
Aug 8-30: Voodoo Rooms, West Register Street, listings
8. Matt Winning: Mugabe And Me
Scots stand-up Matt Winning’s wordy eccentric style has seen him pick up various comedy award nomations and his debut hour Mugabe and Me will be sure to attract comedy fans to the rough and ready Opium venue. If you like your comedy idiosyncratic (and laced with Robert Mugabe references) then Winning could be a winner.
Aug 8-29: Opium, 71 Cowgate, listings
9. Ellen Waddell: Jean-Luc Picard and Me
Should we be worried about a performer obsessed with a fictional spaceship captain? Nah, let’s just enjoy it. Ellen Waddell’s first ever Fringe show is dedicated to Jean-Luc Picard, the shiny-headed Star Trek: Next Generation protagonist played by Patrick Stewart, and his guiding presence over her own life.
Aug 19-30: Stafford Centre, 103 Broughton St, listings
10. Sofie Hagen: Bubblewrap
Obviously not satisfied with now making all the best TV, the Scandinavians are now taking over the comedy circuit too. Sofie Hagen is a Danish comedian gaining serious traction on the London comedy scene with an ice-cold delivery and impressive comedy chops. Having already picked up Chortle’s Best Newcomer Award in 2014, we expect plenty of buzz around this Fringe debut.
Aug 7-31: Liquid Room Annexe, 9C Victoria St, listings
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