50 must-see comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe

Let’s face it, there’s always going to be more Fringe shows than hours available to watch them

The sheer mass of comedy, theatre, dance and everything in-between can often be often be scary – no matter how many times you flick through the brochure.

Here at WOW247 we’ve pooled together our comedy brains to pick out a whopping 50 shows we think make a good starting point for any Fringe adventurer.

It’s a mixture of old hands, new faces, award-winners and comedy oddities that we think will offer you a good springboard for further exploring.

Dive into our big 50 – in no particular order.

1. Sam Simmons: Not a People Person

sam simmons
Simmons scooped the award for Best Comedy Show in 2015, as well as the prestigious Barry award at the Melbourne comedy festival, with his downright silly yet thoughtful Spaghetti for Breakfast. This year the hypnagogic Australian returns with his brand new show Not a People Person, a blend of surreal gags, sketches and prop comedy, that promises/warns of near nudity and guarantees laughter. (FG)

Aug 3-28: Underbelly Potterow, 22 Potterrow, EH8 9BL / more info

2. James Acaster: Reset

Always the comedy bridesmaid, never the bride. James Acaster has been nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award every year since 2012, but is yet to take the top prize. You don’t get nominated for nothing though, and Acaster remains one of the festival’s consistently bright performers. (MDM)

Aug 3-28: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ / more info

3. Bridget Christie: Mortal

Bridget Christie

Bridget Christie won the Best Comedy gong in 2013 with Bic For Her, tackling misogyny with effortless wit and style. The comedian has since been a regular on the small screen, appearing on the likes of Have I Got News For You and Room 101. Christie returns to Edinburgh this year with her show Mortal and this time it’s the Tories and bigots who will feel the full force of her humour. (FG)

Aug 5-29: The Stand Comedy Club, 5 York Place, EH1 3EB / more info

4. Russell Howard and Steve Williams Work in Progress

Fringe festival favourite Russell Howard returns with stand-up pal Steve Williams, for a knockabout half an hour show where anything goes. It’s sure to be a relaxed and free-flowing affair, and it only costs a fiver. (MDM)

Aug 3-21: Assembly George Square Studios, George Square, EH8 9LH / more info

5. Josie Long: Work In Progress

josie-long-promo (1)

Josie Long has been practising stand up since she was 14, and 10 years later was awarded the Best Newcomer at the 2006 Fringe festival for her hilarious and refreshingly heartwarming show Kindness and Exuberance. Long has since been nominated for the best comedy show award three times and has proven herself time and time again. She returns to Edinburgh another 10 years on with her Work In Progress show, sure to be packed with refreshing optimism and reasonably polished humour. (FG)

Aug 16-29: The Stand Comedy Club, 5 York Place, EH1 3EB / more info

6. Sofie Hagen: Shimmer Shatter

Hailing from Copenhagen, Sofie’s debut show ‘Bubblewrap’ was a hit that led to her being voted as the Best Newcomer last year. ‘Bubblewrap’ charted smiley Hagen’s teenage years, as she unashamedly talked the crowd through her long-term obsession with boyband Westlife – culminating in her writing erotic fan fiction on the Irish quartet. The Dane will be exhibiting her talents with her new show Shimmer Shatter, for what is likely to be one of the highlights of The Free Fringe. (FG)

Aug 6-28: Liquid Room Annexe, 9c Victoria St, EH1 2HE / more info

7. Adam Hess: Feathers

Having impressed last year with his debut show Salmon, Adam Hess returns again with quick-fire comedy and quirky takes on all issues in his second solo hour. Last year proved to be a sell-out, so get booking early. (MDM)

Aug 5-28: Heroes @ The Hive, 15-17 Niddry St, EH1 1LG / more info

8. Joe Lycett: That’s the Way A-Ha A-Ha, Joe Lycett

Joe Lycett

Easily the best named show at last year’s Fringe, Brummie funny-man Joe Lycett rounds off his year on tour with a few return dates for his show, That’s the Way A-Ha A-Ha, Joe Lycett. The title still gets us, every time. (MDM)

Aug 23-27: Assembly Hall, Mound Place, EH1 2LU / more info

9. Nish Kumar: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout the Words Real Loud

Another year, another incredibly wordy show title. Nish Kumar remains a popular performer on the comedy circuit, who never hides from the big subjects. This year’s show promises “history, democracy and capitalism” and suspect there’ll be laughs aplenty. (MDM)

Aug 3-28: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ / more info

10. Kieran Hodgson : Maestro

Kieran Hodgson: Maestro

A rising talent who more than impressed with last year’s autobiographical show Lance, Keiran Hodgson turns his attention to the world of symphony orchestras and Gustav Mahler for this year’s outing, titled Maestro. The character comedian is a definite one-to-watch. (MDM)

Aug 6-28: Voodoo Rooms, West Register Street, EH2 2AA / more info

11. Brendon Burns: Dumb White Guy

The controversial Aussie picked up Best Comedy Show in 2007 with the unashamedly boisterous So I Suppose This is Offensive Now. Burns began his career alongside the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen and Ricky Gervais on Channel 4’s The 11 O’Clock Show and while his career hasn’t been as lucrative, Burns’ comedy still packs a hell of a punch. Brendon will be making another welcome appearance this year with his show Dumb White Guy and what’s more it’s part of the Free Fringe, so you can pay what you want. (FG)

Aug 6-28: Liquid Room Annexe, 9c Victoria St, EH1 2HE / more info

12. Mark Watson: I’m Not Here

mark watson

The scarily talented Bristolian comic is renowned for his Fringe marathons, but his one-hour shows are just as impressive. This year’s show, I’m Not Here, looks at identity in the digital age.

Aug 3-28: 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ / more info

13. Foil , Arms and Hog: DoomBah

Irish sketch comedy trio Foil, Arms and Hog have built up a reputation as a bizarre and witty outfit through their popular YoutTbe videos – and it turns out, they’re just as funny in the flesh. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: Underbelly, 66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX / more info

14. zazU: Raisins to Stay Alive

Funny sketch comedy, with a difference. Zazu have built themselves an alternate reality over the last few years at the Fringe, a mini world which is a mix of The Famous Five and something far more sinister. This year, zazU faces its biggest (and funniest) threat yet. (MDM)

Aug 3-29: Gilded Balloon Teviot, Teviot Row House, EH8 9AJ / more info

15. Andy Zaltzman: Plan Z

Andy Zaltzman

Pun-run extraordinaire and satirist-for-hire Andy Zaltzman returns to The Stand with his latest hour ‘Plan Z’. In these times of political turmoil and uncertainty, you can count on Zaltzman to at least have you violently laughing at the whole thing. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: The Stand Comedy Club, 28 York Place, EH1 3EP / more info

16. Ed Gamble: Stampede

Previously making his name with comedy partner Ray Peacock, Gamble has gone solo in the last few years and become a definite Fringe favourite. This year’s show Stampede promises a ‘wagonload of misguided opinions and wild conjecture’. (MDM)

Aug 3-29: Gilded Balloon at the Counting House, West Nicholson Street, EH8 9DD / more info

17. Matt Forde: It’s My Political Party (and I’ll Cry if I Want to)

Fast reaching Fringe veteran levels with the amount of years he’s been performing, Matt Forde will be looking to survey the land following referendums, coups and resignations, and effectively skewer the whole political mess left behind. (MDM)

Aug 3-28: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ / more info

18. Marcus Brigstocke: Why the Long Face?

At this point in his career, Marcus Brigstocke is more Fringe than man. The comedian has been entertaining audiences across the festival in various guises for many years and remains one of the most experienced comedy hands out there. Marcus isn’t shying away from the big subjects, from his own personal life to right-wing newspapers – in his explanation of his ‘long face’. (MDM)

Aug 5-14: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ / more info

19. Shappi Khorsandi: Oh My Country! From Morris Dancing to Morrissey

British-Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi is looking to reclaim patriotism for her country, and she says the skinheads are welcome too! Khorsandi has become one of the most recognisable voices on the comedy circuit, with appearances on Live at the Apollo and Mock the Week and will be bringing her own unique take on British life to The Stand. (MDM)

Aug 3-28: The Stand Comedy Club, 5 York Place, EH1 3EB / more info

20. Phil Nichol: Twenty

Phil Nichol Cray Cray Cabaret

Phil Nichol started performing at the Fringe in 1996 and was duly awarded ten years later the best comedy show award for his energetic and crudely named The Naked Racist with his Band the Sh*tsticks. 2016 will be his 20th year at the festival and to celebrate the Scottish born Canadian has titled his show Twenty. Twenty will contain all of Nichol’s best sketches, songs and gags from his previous shows and will be pleasing fans old and new at Assembly Checkpoint. (FG)

Aug 3-28: Assembly Checkpoint, 3 Bristo Place, EH1 1EY / more info

21. Tommy Tiernan: Out of the Whirlwind

Irish comedy heavyweight Tiernan won Best Comedy Show in 1997 with Undivine Comedy and has continued to tickle fans since with his good-natured yet controversial style. Tiernan returns to Edinburgh 19 years since his triumph with the final outing of his latest show Out of the Whirlwind. Tiernan is rarely anything but painfully funny, so be sure to catch his show at the Gilded Baloon Teviot. (FG)

Aug 5-28: Gilded Balloon Teviot, Teviot Row House, EH8 9AJ / more info

22. David O’Doherty: Big Time

David O'Doherty

In 2008 the self-styled Ryanair Enya saw off competition from big names Rhod Gilbert and Russell Kane to pick up the Best Comedy Show award with Let’s Comedy. Since then David has been a regular on panel shows, written children’s books and supported New Zealand folk duo Flight of the Conchords. This year the Irish comedian returns to Edinburgh with his show Big Time, which is sure to be packed with lyrical ingenuity and silliness in equal measure. David will be at Assembly Hall, or as O’Doherty calls it “the haunted victorian hall on a hill with portraits of men who look like Cocker Spaniels”. (FG)

Aug 4-28: Assembly Hall, Mound Place, EH1 2LU / more info

23. Limmy: Daft Wee Stories

The internet sensation returns, reading from his bestselling book Daft Wee Stories and entertaining crowds with a Q&A session. There’s no other comic mind quite like his. (CL)

Aug 18-21: EICC, 150 Morrison Street, EH3 8EE/ more info

24. Glenn Wool: Five Nights Only

Canadian comic Wool offers a unique perspective after his global adventures. His quirky and fun delivery makes even the most dark subject matter palatable. Five Nights Only, get there quick. (CL)

Aug 7-11: Heroes @ The Hive, 15-17 Niddry St, EH1 1LG/ more info

25. Craig Campbell’s ‘Easy Tiger’

Credit: Craig Cambell

Campbell is a big ball of energy and fur as he takes to the stage sporting a tiger onesie for his most raucous show to date. This is set to be a masterclass from the Canadian “moose” man. (CL)

Aug 3-28: The Stand Comedy Club, 5 York Place, EH1 3EB/ more info

26. Jo Caulfield: Pretending to Care

As seen on Mock the Week, Jo is at the height of her powers interacting with audiences and reflecting on her own life. Guaranteed laughs. (CL)

Aug 5-28: The Stand Comedy Club, 5 York Place, EH1 3EB/ more info

27. Seann Walsh: One for the Road

Observational mastery from the self proclaimed ‘Lie-in King’. Hangover horrors and vulgarity, this comic nails what it means to be young and reckless. (CL)

Aug 3-23: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ/ more info

28. Katherine Ryan: Work in Progress

Katherine Ryan

Following her UK sell-out tour Katherine Ryan brings her best new material to audiences at this year’s Fringe. She might be all over the TV these days, but the comedy club is where she’s most at home. (CL)

Aug 4-13: The Stand Comedy Club 5&6: The Place, 34-38 York Place, EH1 3HU/ more info

29. Iain Stirling: Onwards!

Edinburgh boy done good. The triple BAFTA nominated comic returns home to deliver a performance chock-full of guffaws. (CL)

Aug 3-26: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ/ more info

30. Stewart Lee: Content Provider

Stewart Lee

Fringe veteran Stewart Lee is back testing audiences with his obnoxiously brilliant, painfully awkward, repetitive, deconstructed brand of “snobbish” comedy. It’s a work-in-progress, likely to be headed for TV or a large tour before long. (CL)

Aug 5-28: The Stand Comedy Club, 5 York Place, EH1 3EB / more info

31. Zoe Lyons: Little Misfit

Lyons combines comedy based around her own awkward experiences with wonderfully crafted jokes in a performance which is not to be missed. (CL)

Aug 3-28: Gilded Balloon Teviot, Teviot Row House, EH8 9AJ/ more info 

32. Tom Binns: Summertime Special 2016 With Ivan Brackenbury and Ian D Montfort

Tom Binns

Ventriloquism is alive and well, thanks to Tom Binns. The character comedian picked up five star reviews last year for his show Club Sets, and he returns this year with an updated version. A hugely talented individual. (MDM)

Aug 4-29: Assembly George Square Studios, George Square, EH8 9LH / more info

33. Lewis Schaffer: You Are Beautiful

It can be difficult to sell a show on the back of ‘you may not enjoy this’, but Lewis Schaffer has been doing it for years. The cult-favourite New Yorker likes to test the boundaries of his audience, all in the name of comedy and with often hilarious results. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: Just the Tonic at The Community Project, 86 Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QA / more info

34. Martha McBrier: Japanese Boy

Glaswegian comics don’t always venture east for the Fringe, but it’s often great when they do. Martha McBrier picked up a glowing five-star review in 2015 for Pigeon Puncher, and she’s back again with true tales of mental health patients and a pool tournament. (MDM)

Aug 4-27: Laughing Horse @ Finnegan’s Wake, 9b Victoria Street, EH1 2HE / more info

35. Gary Little: A Little Bit of Personal

Another member of this year’s Glasgow contingent, Gary Little is a Scottish club comic expertly equipped to leave an audience in stitches. Again, Little throws himself into the show with tales from his own past and prison pen pals. You’re in safe hands with Gary. (MDM)

(Aug 4-28: The Stand Comedy Club, 28 York Place, EH1 3EP / more info)

36. Carl Donnelly: Bad Man Tings

Carl Donnelly

Twice Edinburgh Comedy award nominated stand-up and committed vegetarian. Carl Donnelly brings his latest hour to the Fringe, ruminating on his raucous twenties and his new sense of calm at the age of 34. (MDM)

Aug 3-28: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ / more info

37. Al Murray – The Pub Landlord: Let’s Go Backwards Together (Work in Progress)

Has Al Murray’s Brussels-fearing landlord ever been more relevant than right now? Possibly not. It will be interesting to see where Murray takes his character in the wake of Brexit and his own general election madness.

Aug 4-14: Assembly George Square Gardens, George Square, EH8 9LH / more info

38. Will Franken: Little Joe

Character comedian and bizarre world-builder Will Franken returns to the Fringe with Little Joe – a new creation rumoured to be half-pig and half-rabbit. Whatever the set-up, get ready to find yourself lost in Franken’s ever-shifting comedy faces and satirical takes on religion, politics and everything. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: The Stand Comedy Club, 28 York Place, EH1 3EP / more info

39. Daniel Kitson: Mouse – The Persistence of an Unlikely Thought

Often referred to as the ‘comedian’s comedian’ and the successor to Stewart Lee, Kitson keeps a fairly low profile when it comes to mainstream media but continues to attract fans with his complex comedy ideas and searing honesty. The best comedian you’re not watching on your telly box. (MDM)

Aug 2-28, Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED / more info

40. Sarah Kendall: Shaken

Sarah Kendall

Returning on the back of a successful 2015, where she picked up Comics’ Choice Award, Sarah Kendall brings a tale of an earthquake which shook her small hometown in 1989 – and uses her storytelling craft to create something about lies, mayhem and sausages. (MDM)

Aug 3-28: Assembly George Square Studios, George Square, EH8 9LH / more info

41. Tom Ballard: The World Keeps Happening

One of Australia’s finest young comedians, previous winner of ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Melbourne Comedy festival and nominee in the same category in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Ballard’s early success speaks to a rising talent on the stand-up scene and this could well be his break-out year. (MDM)

Aug 3-28: Assembly George Square Studios, George Square, EH8 9LH / more info

42. Zoë Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning

Winner of the prestigious Barry Award at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, Zoe Coombs Marr brings her high-concept take on genre-bending comedy, sexism and mime to Edinburgh. An original voice on the comedy circuit. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: Underbelly Cowgate, 66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX / more info

43. John Robertson: The Dark Room

John Robertson

An RPG video game happening in real life and spawned from the brain of Aussie comedy oddity John Robertson. The Dark Room is celebrating its fifth consecutive year at the Fringe and remains a firm audience favourite. (MDM)

Aug 4-27: Underbelly Cowgate, 66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX / more info

44. Ahir Shah: Machines

A comedy talent older than his years, Ahir Shah’s 2015 show Distant was a critic’s favourite and he returns with this year with Machines. Shockingly enough, this high-rated stand-up is dishing out his philosophical pondering for free. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, 36-38 Blair Street, EH1 1QR / more info

45. Joe DeRosa: Zero Forward Progress

Joe DeRosa

An American comic making his UK debut, but familiar to many from roles in Better Call Saul and Louie – DeRosa is a raw and unflinching stand-up channelling his everyday gripes into hilarious stand-up. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: Underbelly Cowgate, 66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX / more info

46. Jimeoin: Renonsense Man

Another year, another helping of the gloriously weird Northern Irishman Jimeoin – the man with the maddest eyebrows in comedy. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: EICC, 150 Morrison Street, EH3 8EE / more info

47. Ari Shaffir: This Is Not Happening

New York comic Shaffir brings his hallmark Comedy Central show This Is Not Happening for a second outing at the Fringe. A show which revels in true stories from top comedians, where literally *nothing* is off-limits. (MDM)

Aug 18,25: Heroes @ The Hive, 15-17 Niddry St, EH1 1LG / more info

48. Nick Cody: Come Get Some!

Nick Cody

Nick Cody hit the ground running last year with debut hour Beard Game Strong with plenty of critical acclaim, and his second instalment Come Get Some! looks to offer another hour of brash, unflinching Aussie confidence. (MDM)

Aug 3-28: Assembly George Square Studios, George Square, EH8 9LH / more info

49. Ellie Taylor: Infidelliety

Former Snog, Marry, Avoid presenter and Essex stand-up Ellie Taylor offers her take on the marriage and monogamy in her latest Fringe show. A sharp and engaging comedy talent. (MDM)

Aug 4-28: Just the Tonic at The Tron, 9 Hunter Square, EH1 1QW / more info

50. Darren Walsh: S’Pun

Darren Walsh

Darren Walsh has stepped up to the plate as Edinburgh’s foremost pun-slinger, picking the ‘best joke of the Fringe’ award last year – with one of his quick-fire comedy offerings. It’s gags, coming at you thick and fast. If you didn’t like the last one, another one will be along any minute. (MDM)

Aug 3-29: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ / more info

Contributors: Matthew Dunne-Miles / Finlay Greig / Craig Leiper

Our full Edinburgh Festivals coverage can be found at wow247.co.uk/edinburgh-festivals


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