It’s not highest on the agenda for Fringe-goers, but the audience for spoken word is growing
A spoken word performer is like a more linguistic comedian. It involves the same individualism, but the storyteller has to be expert at wordplay and narrative.
Spoken word at the Fringe is still quite niche, and there are only around 100 listings to choose from.
If you aren’t clued up on the world of spoken word but are curious, then that’s why we’re here to round up an eclectic selection of the most intriguing acts.
Alexis Dubus Versus The World
If Alexis Dubus was charging for his show, it would be money well spent. The fact that he’s coming to Edinburgh with yet another free show is admirable.
In his new show Dubus explores an array of comedy and spoken word techniques he has built up since 2008. His intrepid style mixes stand-up, storytelling and sketch, merging it with his verse skills in quick-fire poetry.
Aug 6-28 (not 15th): Voodoo Rooms, EH2 2AA / more info
Henry Rollins – Charmingly Obstinate
He’s the multi-tasking hardcore punk legend that shows head-banging doesn’t decrease brain cells. Henry Rollins has taken his undisputed intellect a step further since the days of Black Flag and has developed a fascinating spoken word career.
Aside from being a Hollywood actor, author and radio host, his solo show has seen sell-outs well before the festival has begun. Don’t expect any Black Flag or Rollins Band covers though, that’s a popular misconception.
Aug 15-18: Assembly George Square Gardens, EH8 9LH / more info
DeafFirefly: Playing With Poetry
This is one of the more unique spoken word ventures on the Fringe calendar. Donna Williams (aka DeafFirefly) intelligently combines British Sign Language with spoken word, as she attempts to perform poems in two different languages at once.
Her skill in deciphering both languages gives her linguistically curious audience an explanation to Williams’ greatness and how her best-of-both-worlds poems are executed. It isn’t on for long, so make sure you purchase a ticket in advance.
Aug 11-12: Spotlites, 22-26 George Street, EH2 2PQ / more info
Hey Fat Roland! Forty Minutes of Idiot
This free spoken word show has been described as “Johnny Vegas devouring Stewart Lee.” It is certainly difficult to envisage, but he is an absurdist after all.
‘Forty Minutes of Idiot’ follows his debut show last year, ‘Kraftwerk Badger Spaceship’, and will be promoting his latest podcast.
Fat Roland’s show is guaranteed to wake you up when you’re at one of the earliest shows on the Fringe daily schedule, solely because of his rather arcane sense of humour that is completely and utterly bonkers.
Aug 4-7: Laughing Horse @ The Newsroom, 5-11 Leith Street, EH1 3AT / more info
Political spoken word sounds a little bland, but when the topic involves the EU referendum it is assured to get the audience talking about the vote yet again – and at least the ‘Knowing EU’ team are doing it in a humorous way.
It’s educational, it’s controversial and it will present a lighter angle on the contentious discussions that have split the country.
Aug 5-27 (not 7th or 14th): theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, Nicolson Street, EH8 9DW / more info
Spoken word doesn’t need to be one voice of soothing, riveting poetry. It can be as rambunctious as physically possible, which the Loud Poets demonstrate.
This collective includes a selection of the best Scottish spoken word artists, and the backing of a live band makes for a unique show every night.
Aug 5-29 (not 15th or 22nd): Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR / more info
Strange Face – Adventures With a Lost Nick Drake Recording
This award-winning show revolves around an instance when a Nick Drake recording was rescued from bottom of a skip.
Michael Burdett decided to flesh out the story and stopped 200 strangers to photograph them listening to this recovered track. It includes stories and detailed images of British celebrities who honour the life of musician Nick Drake, as well as the importance of his vast collection of scintillating music.
Aug 3-29 (not 16th): Pleasance Courtyard, EH8 9TJ / more info