16 shows to see at Edinburgh Fringe

Zoe Paskett

Zoe Paskett

It’s happening! Edinburgh Fringe has finally arrived and weather reports say it’s going to be massive. Part of me still feels like it’s going to disappear into the ether like a mirage as I pass through Newcastle.

I don’t know about you, but the process of deciding what to see sends me into the biggest possible FOMO spiral. There are just too many incredible comedians to see everything you want. We’re here to help you narrow it ever so slightly, but to be honest, it’s almost a ridiculous undertaking to try to shave it down to a few so why not see this as a jumping off point? If you’re looking for even more inspiration and insight into individual shows, check out our Q&As.  

My major recommendation would be, after you’ve booked to see every one of the below shows, have a look on their socials at who they’re excited about — as much as writers would love you to take our word as gospel, no one knows better than they do!

It’s totally by accident that so many of these shows below are by debut performers — I guess that’s what is so exciting about this year. Aside from the intoxicating thrill of losing all your money and burning yourself out 🙂

Enjoy! And let us know what you’re excited to see!

Celya AB: Swimming

Celya AB is the first of many super exciting debut shows at this year’s Fringe, bringing Swimming, a show about moving from Paris to Birmingham and learning to swim at age 25. She delivers a delicious combo of observant and absurd in her stand-up and has one particularly brilliant routine about her phone that I now haven’t stopped thinking about since I heard it. Seriously. Anytime I pay for anything online. Which means I’m thinking about Celya pretty much everyday now. 

Pleasance Courtyard, The Attic; August 3rd-15th, 17th-29th, 7:15pm. For tickets click here!

Thanyia Moore: Just Being Funny

2017 Funny Women Awards winner Thanyia Moore was set to make her Fringe debut in 2020 with her show Bully, but then we all know what happened. After these last two years of bleurgh, Thanyia is looking back on that show and reevaluating it, while also talking about how she became one of the UK’s first World Champion Hip Hop Dancers(!) and just having a really great time on stage. Thanyia is one of those natural comedy voices that makes you feel totally at ease — it’s why she’s such a great compere too, which you can check out as she hosts Late’n’Live as well!

Monkey Barrel, Carnivore 1; August 3rd-16th, 18th-29th, 6:50pm, for tickets click here!

Julia Masli: CHOOSH!

We are edging ever closer to the new era, which I am christening the Clown Age. They’ve always been around and abound but it feels like more are making their way front and centre this year. I couldn’t be more delighted, particularly as it gives Julia Masli her much-deserved arrival into the spotlight. If you’ve seen her hit show Legs, you’ve probably already booked to see CHOOSH, but if you haven’t, what a gorgeous surprise for you this will be. This show is the journey of a hungry clown from eastern Europe to America for a hot dog. Come for the hot dogs, stay for the unrivalled physical comedy.

Assembly Roxy, August 3th-16th, 18th-28th, 9:55pm for tickets click here!

Shelf: Hair

Hair is everything, Anthony (yeah, that’s a Fleabag quote because I have my finger on the pulse). But when it comes to comedy double act Shelf’s debut show, Hair is what it’s all about, and one haircut in particular. Whether you know the musical double act from their founding membership of the LOL Word (also essential viewing for queer Fringers after an escape from cis male comedians) or their brilliant short music videos, you’ll know they are a unique talent — to clarify, only one of them can sing and play guitar, so the talent I’m talking about is comedy and tiny cymbals. 

Pleasance Courtyard, Bunker Three; August 3rd-16th, 18th-28th, 7:15pm, for tickets click here!

Lara Ricote: GRL/LATNX/DEF

The Funny Women Awards most recent champion is the name on pretty much everybody’s colour-coded spreadsheets this year. Completely justified. Her five minute slot in the 2021 final sent her immediately to the top of my ‘must see more now’ list. In her debut show GRL/LATNX/DEF, she talks about what it’s like to be Latin American, deaf and a girl and leaning into her very particular experience of the world. Truly could watch Lara for hours, she’s without a doubt one of the most exciting new comedy voices right now.

Monkey Barrel (the Hive), Hive 2; August 2nd-16th, 18th-28th, 3:20pm, for tickets click here!

Erika Ehler: Femcel

You’ve heard about incels but you don’t want to hear anymore. Fair enough! Why not explore the concept of the Femcel, the overlooked and underappreciated female equivalent? The femcel can’t get into a relationship but there’s one big difference — the femcel (noun) is everything the incel is not. Erika Ehler will tell you more; I guarantee you’ll hang on her every word. I don’t want to say that she has the on-stage charisma of someone who could pull me into a cult, but I also don’t not want to say that?

Monkey Barrel, Carnivore 1; August 1st-28th, 9:40pm, for tickets click here!

Britney: Friends and Nothing More

I’m gonna give you some homework. Britney’s fantastic BBC pilot, titled Britney and adapted from their first show, is one of my favourite comedy shorts and for your own good, you should watch it now. Ok, now you’re set up with that, I’m not sure I’ll need to say much more to convince you to see their latest one, Friends and Nothing More. But just in case you need a nudge: Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson are super close friends and are returning with a sketch show about love, friendship and making you, the audience, besotted with them (I’m not sure if this is officially part of it, but it will happen so be prepared).

Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance Below; August 3rd-28th, 5:45pm, for tickets click here!

Frankie Thompson: Catts

She might call herself an ‘emerging idiot’ but I’d rather call her a feline genius. Frankie Thompson’s one woman adaptation of Cats the musical, which is not about cats or the musical, is one of the most exhilarating debuts in this year’s programme. You heard it here first: Catts will be the one everyone’s talking about. It’s very easy to say that you’ve never seen anything like it, but Frankie is a truly unique performer, she’s unexpected, anarchic, heartfelt and ridiculous, basically everything we need right now as the world collapses.

Pleasance Courtyard, Bunker Two; August 3rd-14th, 16th-28th, 9:25pm, for tickets click here!

Ania Magliano: Absolutely No Worries If Not

How many times a day are you typing ‘no worries’ when you actually feel so many worries? It’s a lot for me. 2020 Funny Women Awards finalist Ania Magliano is doing her best to detox from it too. She’s already won the award for best new show at the Leicester Comedy Festival, and her debut at Edinburgh will actually blow your socks off. It feels like she’s been around for yonks but in fact she’s irritatingly young. You’ll find out about her attempts to work on confronting her hairdresser about a bad haircut, in my opinion futile, because this is scientifically impossible.

Pleasance Courtyard — Bunker Three; August 3rd-14th, 16th-28th, 4:35pm, for tickets click here!

Eryn Tett Finds Her Audience

Comedy really isn’t science-y enough anymore. There’s just not enough hard quantitative data to know how people really feel about a show. Yeah, they’re laughing but what does that *actually* mean? Eryn Tett is taking a very literal approach to the advice, ‘find your audience’, by embarking on a clinical trial using you as volunteers to seek out the perfect audience member. She’s got a wonderful mix of absurdism, wordplay and strange observations, and an hour absolutely packed to the gills with one-liners.

Just the Tonic at the Tron; August 4th-14th, 16th-28th, 5pm, for tickets click here!

Jen Ives: Peak Trans 

If you don’t know Jen Ives by now then honestly, where have you been? Do you even LIKE comedy?! Sorry to shame you, but you possibly deserve it because Jen IS comedy. The 2019 Funny Women Awards finalist has got some questions: Is JK Rowling the devil? Can a man love a trans woman and still be straight? How long can Jen get away with taking maternity leave? Her show Peak Trans will see Jen sort out the toxic discourse around trans people in the UK, and she’ll do it with style.

Gilded Balloon, Patter Hoose, Snug; August 3rd-14th, 16th-28th, 7pm, for tickets click here!

Sikisa: Life of the Party

If you’ve ever seen Sikisa’s comedy, you’ll know that ‘life of the party’ is no understatement. For her debut hour, the audience is lucky enough to be actually invited to a party at Sikisa’s house, where she’s making up for lost time (no parties until she was 18). The show is all about celebration and living your life, but it’s also full of surprises, and looks at how the world really sees her as a black woman. Her debut is years in the making and it’s no exaggeration to say that Sikisa is one of the hardest working comics on the circuit, so this will be a treat to watch.

Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance Below; August 3rd-16th, 18th-28th, 8:25pm, for tickets click here!

Sooz Kempner: PlayStation

Calling all 90s kids (on the landline of course)! Sooz Kempner is travelling back in time to the heady days of 1998 when she got a PlayStation and finally felt grown up. Who can relate? Not me actually, I wasn’t allowed to ‘game’. But Sooz is for everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike, because oooh boy does she know how to command a room. Whether it’s singing, or doing impressions, telling stories about the nonsense situations she’s found herself in, she’s got barrels of laughs at her fingertips.

Free Fringe@Banshee Labyrinth, Chamber Room; August 6th-16th, 18th-28th, 2:20pm, for tickets click here!

Roisin Crowley Linton: Medusa

Oh come on, you know I’d never get through a list of recommendations without some kind of cabaret! And when it’s got Greek mythology references, I’m all in. Roisin Crowley Linton’s signature is combining autobiographical comedy, poetry and burlesque, and Medusa will see her talk love, heartbreak, fury and how she accidentally became an NHS clinician for paediatric sexual violence during the pandemic.

Underbelly Bristo Square, Buttercup; August 3rd-16th, 18th-28th, 6:45pm. For tickets click here!

Jordan Gray: Is It a Bird?

There’s really no one like Jordan Gray. Every show I’ve seen her do has been a whirlwind of screaming and jumping up and down (on my part). Not only is she devastatingly funny, but she’s also an incredible singer and pianist, with an ability to play while contorting herself into impossible positions. Is It a Bird? will see her tackling babies, boobies, bigots and Batman. No matter how many times you see Jordan, there’s always a surprise waiting for you. It promises to be an incredible hour.

Assembly George Square, The Box, August 3rd-16th, 18th-28th, 10:25pm, for tickets click here!

Abby Wambaugh and Bronwyn Sweeney

What’s that? Two more Funny Women finalists? At once? That’s right, Abby Wambaugh (finalist) and Bronwyn Sweeney (runner-up) are doing a split bill, but only in the last week of August so it’ll be a treat Fringe-goers at the tail-end can enjoy. Abby tells you the truth that they understand about parenting, gender, fruit and furniture, while Bronwyn strives to be unforgettable, unlike the advertising she creates in her day job! Both of them are super exciting new voices in comedy and believe me, you’re not going to forget either of these names.

The Stand’s New Town Theatre, Studio August 22nd-28th, 8:35pm, for tickets click here!

If you’re not going…Stream it on NextUp

If you’re not going to Edinburgh Fringe this year, honestly, it’s not the end of the world (it feels pretty close to imploding anyway tbh), particularly as you can now tune in LIVE to shows from wherever you are! NextUp is live streaming at least 50 shows, including Esther Manito, Harriet Dyer, Rosie Holt, Shelf, Sikisa, Shazia Mirza, Yuriko Kotani, All Killa No Filla and more. Keep an eye out as they release more news.

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