Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012 Show Recommendations

Last Thursday was possibly the most exciting day of any regular Edinburgh Fringe goer’s year. The day the Fringe programme magically appears on my doormat. Sometimes I think that browsing through its glossy pages is possibly more exciting than actually going to the Fringe itself. It reminds me of thumbing through the Argos catalogue in 1987, circling things I really wanted for Christmas. First impression of the new Fringe programme is that it’s heavier than last year’s. Exciting observation #1.

I’m not actually taking a show to Edinburgh this year, so this might actually be unbiased for a change. Although I do teach loads of improv workshops, so it’s bound to be biased towards improv and comedy.

Also I’ve tended to concentrate on newer or different stuff, rather than the mock-the-apollo-rent-a-comedians who might be funny but you’ve probably heard of before and all their pictures in the programme look exactly the same.

If you need more details on the shows check out www.edfringe.com where they have all the shows listed, and you can also order a paper programme there or pick one up when you arrive in Edinburgh.

This list isn’t complete, I’m going to be adding to it as I go along, this is my first wave assault on the programme, so please full free to leave further recommendations in the comments.

Top Tips/Personal Highlights/Ones to Watch

Show: What Would Beyonce Do? – Free
Performer/Group: Luisa Omielan
Venue: Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar, Buccleuch Street
Time: 22:45
Dates: 2nd – 26th August, not 13th August
Price: £Free
Stand Up. This is my hot stand up tip of the year. While lots of other stand-ups on the circuit seem to be taking a slightly comedy by numbers approach of doing exactly the same set night after and changing some infinitely small section of their set to achieve some kind of comedy perfection, Luisa stands out for still taking massive risks, being brave, improvising loads, interacting, breaking boundaries and most of all being funny. She reminds me now of what Eddie Izzard was like just before he took off. I saw her start an MC set once by doing 5 minutes in gibberish following an off the cuff conversation just before she went on, the crowd loved it. She’s unsupported with no agent or press or PR, up against the Avalon renta-comic panel brigade, so go and support her. When you watch her you feel like you’re actually watching a real person that has opened up on stage and is connected to you, not a talking script of generic comedy. Most of all you feel like she’s a comic that has committed to being herself, without apology, in the face of an industry that doesn’t seem to encourage that anymore. I’ve also heard great reports from her Brighton Fringe gigs. And did I say she’s funny? She’s very funny. Go see it, and tell others to go to.

Show: RH: Live
Performer/Group: The RH Experience

Venue: C aquila, Roman Eagle Lodge (near castle off Royal Mile), EH1 2PLW
Time: 15:30
Dates: 12th August – 27th August
Price: £8.50 – 10.50
Improv. YES YES YES! RH AT EDINBURGH! Possibly the most exciting thing
to happen to the festival in years. The RH Experience have been building
up thousands of fans on You Tube first, the other way round from most
comedy acts. They even won a major YouTube award this year which means
YouTube see them as the stars of the future. They’ve also been building
up some amazingly successful live shows at The Miller, with people
coming all the way across Europe to see them. This is their first show
at Edinburgh. Each one of the three (Tom, Luke, Conor) has their own
special skills and character, I want to collect them all. I predict that
within a few years they’ll be the next Pappy’s or Penny Dreadfuls on
the live circuit, and the next Mary Whitehouse Experience on TV. If I
was a producer of TV Comedy I’d check this show out immediately, take
them all out for sandwiches, and then get down on all fours and bark
like a dog until they said yes. Funny, modern, likeable, young,
contemporary, current, good, RH.
Mum safe

Show: Austenatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel
Performer/Group: Milk Monitors / Laughing Horse Free Festival

Venue: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 38 West Nicolson Street
Time: 13:30
Dates: 2nd – 26th August, not 14th
Price: £FREE
This show has been making waves in the London Improv scene, performing at The Miller and all over the place. They take a suggestion for a new Jane Austen novel, and improvise the entire tale there and then in period costume. It features some of the best improvisers around, it’s really funny, and they tell awesome stories. You don’t even have to be a Jane Austen fan to enjoy it, there’s loads to enjoy. With now well-known improvisers in it too, like Cariad Lloyd and Rachel Parris, this should be a big hit. It’s free, it’s on for the full run, it’s on nice and early in the afternoon, it’s good. There is nothing in your way of seeing this show, so go and see it, and then go and see it again.
Mum safe

Show: Do Not Adjust Your Stage
Performer/Group: Do Not Adjust Your Stage / PBH’s Free Fringe

Venue: Whynot? 14 George Street
Time: 16:15
Dates: 4th – 25th August, not 14th or 21st
Price: £Free
Improv. Yeahhhhh!!!! I love Do Not Adjust Your Stage. Out of all the groups to rise out of The Miller the last year or so this group stands out. Every show in London is packed with an enthusiastic audience, because the shows are always funny, entertaining, with great characters and just awesome improv all round. They improvise a television schedule with soap operas, documentaries, news and best of all the Game Show. Not a weak link among them, they’re all awesome. And it’s FREE so go and check them out.
Mum safe

Best of the Rest

Show: Cabaret Whore – Her Finest Hour
Performer/Group: Sarah-Louise Young – Festival Highlights

Venue: Underbelly, Bristo Square
Time: 19:30
Dates: 3rd-12th August
Price: £7-£12
Through hard work, dedication, and lashings of talent Sarah-Louise has become one of those rare things; an Edinburgh defining show. Edinburgh wouldn’t be the same without her, because this is Edinburgh. Some great musical comedy characters that are really funny, well written, well produced with songs that are beautifully sung. Funny and sounds brilliant. Sarah-Louise is also in The Showstoppers.Show: Piff the Magic Dragon in … Jurassic Bark
Performer/Group: Piff the Magic Dragon

Venue: Pleasance Dome, Bristo Square
Time: 19:10
Dates: 1st – 26th August
Price: £6-£11
Comedy magician dressed in a dragon outfit. He pissed off Jonathan Ross on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us by eating a banana while he was trying to talk and then handing him the skin. For this reason, I recommend him.

Show: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghh! It’s the Greatest Show on Legs
Performer/Group: Martin Soan / Heroes of Alternative Fringe

Venue: Alternative Fringe @ The Hive, Niddry Street
Time: 21:00
Dates: 22nd – 26th August
Price: £5
I haven’t actually seen this but I know this was the comedy group that the late great Malcolm Hardee was in, who was one of the founding fathers of British Alternative Comedy, so it should be anarchic and is also likely to have some interesting guests.
Not Mum

Show: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! It’s the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show with Miss Behave – and It’s Free!
Performer/Group: John Fleming and The Laughing Horse Free Festival

Venue: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 38 West Nicolson Street
Time: 23:00
Dates: 24th August
Price: Free
If you want to see something that’s the antithesis of run of the mill manufactured stand up then this is the show for you. Malcolm Hardee was one of the founding fathers of alternative comedy. John Fleming wrote his biography ‘I stole Freddy Mercury’s Birthday Cake’ (awesome read) and now writes an influential comedy blog. Whoever is nominated and whoever comes to perform, your guaranteed something different.
Not Mum

Show: Baby Wants Candy: The Completely Improvised Full Band Musical!
Performer/Group: Baby Wants Candy

Venue: Assembly George Square
Time: 19:30
Dates: 1st – 27th August
Price: £6-£15
Very funny and entertaining improvised musical with a full band that rock.
Mum safe

Show: Bad Advice – Free
Performer/Group: Lauren Shearing and Sarah Pearch

Venue: Laughing Horse @ Espionage, 4 India Buildings, Victoria Street
Time: 22:00
Dates: 2nd – 26th August, not 13th August
Price: £Free

Show: Birth Order
Performer/Group: Rachel Anderson

Venue: Laughing Horse @ Free Sisters, Cowgate
Time: 17:15
Dates: 4th – 26th August
Price: £Free

Stand up. I haven’t seen these yet but Lauren Shearing and Rachel Anderson have been performing lots at The Miller in various improv groups including Music Box and I think they’re really talented, so I expect their stand up will be awesome too.

Show: Bec Hill is More Afraid of You Than You Are of Her!
Performer/Group: Bec Hill

Venue: Gilded Balloon Teviot, Teviot Row House
Time: 14:45
Dates: 1st – 26st August, not 15th August
Price: £5 – £9
Stand Up. Bec is so professional, every time we’ve had her at The Miller she’s adjusted immediately to various crowds and got them laughing. Very warm, friendly and engaging. The sort of person you really want to do well on stage and in life, and does.
Mum safe

Show: Billy The Mime
Performer/Group: Bonehead Productions

Venue: Just the Tonic at The Caves, Cowgate.
Time: 18:15
Dates: Aug 2-13, 15-16, 20-23
Price: £4-8
Politically incorrect controversial mime. I haven’t seen this yet, but have a good feeling about it in my category of ‘weird Edinburgh things that make me think differently’.
Not Mum

Show: Bob Slayer: He’s A Very Naughty Boy
Performer/Group: Master of Chaos

Venue: Alternative Fringe @ The Hive, 15-17 Niddry Street
Time: 19:00
Dates: 2nd – 26th August, not 14th
Price: £3-5
Some people hate Bob Slayer but I absolutely love him and think he’s hilarious. I’m probably going to see him 3 or 4 times this year. Last time I saw him he drunk anyone’s wine who left it on the floor and didn’t move it quickly enough, got naked, hang a dartboard around himself, and then got the drunkest audience member to throw darts at him. One of the darts missed and stuck in his leg. The last dart hit the bullseye. I feel like anyone who doesn’t like him, I don’t like.
Not Mum

Show: The Boy With Tape On His Face – More Tape
Performer/Group: Boy with Tape on his Face

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance.
Time: 21:40
Dates: 2nd – 27th August, not 14th August
Price: £6 – 13.50
Bloke with tape over his mouth does stand-up using mime, props, audience interaction, improvisation. This was my favourite show from last year, it left me feeling good about life and people in general. I looked around and myself, my girlfriend, Mum and Dad and the entire rest of the crowd were in hysterics throughout the whole show. I don’t know anyone else who has such an honest and loving relationship with the audience.
Mum safe

Show: Carl-Einar Hackner: Handluggage
Performer/Group: Gilded Balloon

Venue: Gilden Balloon Teviot, Teviot Row
Time: 19:30
Dates: 1st August – 27th August, not 13th August
Price: £5 – 10.50
Comedy Swedish Magician. I saw him at La Clique a few years back and thought he was the funniest bloke ever. The most stupid act ever, and I mean that as a massive compliment.

Show: Cirque du Charlie Chuck
Performer/Group: Charlie Chuck

Venue: SpaceCabaret @ 54, North Bridge
Time: 12:30
Dates: 13th – 25th August
Price: £8
Donkey! It’s that bloke from Vic and Bob! I also saw him at Reading Festival years and years ago. He was doing stand up between bands, and was awesome. He kept the crowd entertained for 15 minutes by repeatedly saying “do you wanna see me jump on dem drums?” If you like the absurd, avacado.

Show: Doctor Brown – Befrdfgth
Performer/Group: Soho Theatre

Venue: Underbelly Cowgate
Time: 21:05
Dates: 2nd – 26th August, not 13th
Price: £6 – 11:50
Absurd Clown. I haven’t seen him for years but everyone I know and love from workshops keeps telling me that “I HAVE TO SEE DOCTOR BROWN”. He also recently won a major award at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

Show: Fat Kitten Goes Speed Dating AND Fat Kitten vs. The World
Performer/Group: Fat Kitten

Venue: The Vodoo Rooms, West Register Street
Time: 16:50
Dates: 4th – 25th August, not 15th or 22nd August
Price: £Free
Improv. at Kitten are now pillars of the Edinburgh Fringe. I feel like a trip to The Edinburgh Fringe isn’t complete without checking them out. James Ross really understands the Fringe audience and makes the perfect Free Fringe show. They’ve got two shows this year, Speed Dating in the first half of the festival, vs the world in the second half.
Mum safe

Show: Folken Britain
Performer/Group: Susan Harrison

Venue: Le Monde, 16 George Street, EH2 2PF
Time: 17:50
Dates: 4th – 25th August, not 13th or 20th
Price: £Free
Character comedy. I haven’t seen this particular show but I’ve seen Susan in various improv shows and cabaret nights and think she’s a great character comic, really funny stuff, so I’ve got a good feeling about this show.

Show: Four Screws Loose in #screwtheworld
Performer/Group: James Grant Comedy

Venue: Assembly George Square
Time: 15:20
Dates: 2nd – 27th August, not 11th August
Price: £5-10
Sketch comedy. I haven’t seen this group yet but I’ve heard great things year on year, and with Penny Dreadfuls and Pappy’s doing less together this could be the year for the Screws to really take off.

Show: Gareth Morinan Presents A Wilmops Good Improv Show
Performer/Group: Gareth Morinan

Venue: The Cabaret Voltaire, 36 Blair Street
Time: 12:05
Dates: 4th – 25th August
Price: £Free
Improv. The Wilmops have been rocking the London Improv scene and Gareth has been doing some awesome work, we salute you sir! They should also have some great cast, so keep an eye out for some amazing guest performers coming along.

Show: GirlBand Improv – Free
Performer/Group: GirlBand

Venue: Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar, 42-44 Buccleuch Street
Time: 20:15
Dates: 4th – 26th August, not 13th or 20th
Price: £Free
Improv. I’ve been performing with Luisa Omielan in Zorbo Ironheart, and Rachel and Lauren in Music Box, and I think they are all excellent improvisers, so think they’ll be great all together in this show. Most of all GirlBand seem to be about making improv fun, and I think they’ll be perfect for the Free Fringe crowd too.

Show: Heroes of Alternative Fringe
Performer/Group: Greatest Show On The Fringe

Venue: Alternative Fringe @ The Hive, Niddry Street
Time: 19:00
Dates: 2nd August – 21st August
Price: £5
I’m pretty intrigued about what acts will be on for this show. It mentions Bob Slayer and Phil Kay in the blurb, two of my favourites.

Show: Kunt and the Gang – Free
Performer/Group: Kunt and the Gang

Venue: Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, Blair Street
Time: 22:30
Dates: 3rd – 26th August, not 11th
Price: £Free
Never seen them but they were responsible for last year’s ‘knob gate’, sticking cocks all over big star’s posters, which I found funny so I’m going to seem them this year for that reason only.

Show: Ladies and Gentlemen – Free
Performer/Group: Ladies and Gentlemen

Venue: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, West Nicholson Street.
Time: 15:30
Dates: 2nd – 26th August.
Price: £Free
Sketch Show. The photo features Paul Foxcroft, one of the finest improvisers to pop up in London over the last year or so, and if he’s now doing Sketch too I predict it will be well worth watching.

Show: Lights! Camera! Improvise!
Performer/Group: The Scat Pack

Venue: Underbelly, Bristo Square
Time: 16:50
Dates: 1st – 27th August, not 13th.
Price: £6 – 11
Improv, movie themed. I’m an improviser but every time I see The Scat Pack they never fail to amaze me. They’re really funny, fast and slick. They make great stories, with fun characters and a really funny show. It’s also really profession, not just for improvisers, anyone will enjoy this show. It’s great to see that they’ve moved out of C Venues too and are at the Underbelly now.
Mum safe

Show: Mick Foley: Prisoner of Raw
Performer/Group: Mick Foley

Venue: The Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street
Time: 22:25
Dates: 8th – 11th August
Price: £15
Wrestley Mick Foley does Stand Up. I like that.

Show: Monkey Toast: The Improvised Chat Show
Performer/Group: Ditto Productions

Venue: Pleasance Dome, 1 Bristo Square.
Time: 23:05
Dates: 1st August – 26th August, not 14th
Price: £5-11
Improv. Amazing cast that reads like a who’s who of comedy – David Shore, Humphrey Ker, Sara Pascoe, Cariad Lloyd, Phil Whelans, Rob Broderick. Check it out.

Show: Nick Helm: This Means War!
Performer/Group: Bound and Gagged Comedy

Venue: Pleasance Dome, Bristo Square
Time: 17:30
Dates: 1st – 27th August, not 14th
Price: £7-13.50
Stand Up. There’s something inherently ‘real’ with Nick Helm. I saw him on TV last night and he was the only person there who looked like an actual person. I want to touch his sweat.
Not Mum

Show: The Noise Next Door: Bring The Noise
Performer/Group: Bound and Gagged

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Time: 17:00
Dates: 1st August – 27th August, not 8th August
Price: £7-14
Improv. Every improviser should go see this show in order to understand how to market an improv show, develop an improv show, and deliver an improv show. Taking improv into the mainstream, which is a good thing. Well done.
Mum safe

Show: The Pajama Men’s Improv Show
Performer/Group: Assembly

Venue: Assembly George Square
Time: 21:00
Dates: 2nd – 12th August
Price: £7-15
Improv. YES! If you are an improviser, like watching improv, or have even been within 50m of improv then you should definitely go see this show. They made a name for themselves with their two person scripted narrative comedy shows. Now they appear to be using this name to do their improv show – YES! Exciting.

Show: Peter Edwards: Love Everyone
Performer/Group: Peter Edwards

Venue: Laughing Horse @ Free Sisters, Cowgate
Time: 18:30
Dates: 3rd – 26th August, not Saturdays
Price: £Free
Every week I meet someone new who is guest appearing in this show. I love Pete. You either get his stand up, or you don’t, and I do. Go Pete!

Show: Sheeps – Dancing with Lisa
Performer/Group: CKP

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Time: 17:10
Dates: 1st – 26th August, not 13th August
Price: £5-11
Sketch Show. Another one I haven’t seen yet but heard loads of good things about last year.

Show: Spank!
Performer/Group: James Wren etc

Venue: Underbelly, Cowgate
Time: 00:00
Dates: 3rd – 26th August
Price: £10-15.50
Stand Up. Great place to see a selection of stand ups and other comedy acts from across Edinburgh all in one place. Runs till really late. You will end up here at some point in your Edinburgh visit.

Show: Well Done You – Free
Performer/Group: Trodd en Bratt/Laughing Horse Free Festival

Venue: Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters, Cowgate
Time: 17:45
Dates: 2nd – 26th August, not 13th August
Price: £Free
Sketch show. This is in the category of “I can’t believe this is free”. Ruth Bratt and Lucy Trodd are both in Showstoppers the Improvised Musical and bust out the most hilarious characters ever off the cuff, so if they’ve actually written things down before it should be amazing. I’ve been hearing great things on the grapevine too about their preview shows they’ve been doing in London. Definitely one to watch, can’t wait.

Show: The Showstoppers
Performer/Group: Showstopper Productions – Festival Highlights

Venue: Gilded Balloon Teviot
Time: 23:00 (also family matinees occassionaly earlier in the day)
Dates: 3rd August – 26th August, not 23rd
Price: £7.50 – 12.50
Improvised Musical. A real Edinburgh essential, the festival isn’t the same without it. So slick and professional, they’ve completely nailed the musical genre. Not only is it funny, and improvised, with great stories and characters, but it also sounds amazing. It’s a real musical dammit! Made up!
Mum Safe

Lots of love,
Impro Classes and Shows
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