British Comedy Guide

Comedy.co.uk Recommended 2017

Comedy.co.uk Recommended 2017

Here is a list of the best comedy shows the BCG team saw at the Edinburgh Festival in 2017.

Adam Hess: Cactus. Adam Hess.

Adam Hess: Cactus

Adam Hess appeared on Dave's Joke of the Fringe list again, thanks to his fine writing skills. This year he's brought his diaries along, charting his ill-advised ventures; from medical trials and affairs of the heart, to the dangers of rowing a boat along the Thames without proper supervision.

Ahir Shah: Control. Ahir Shah.

Ahir Shah: Control

Queues are forming for this Free Festival show, so you'll need to get there early to get a seat... but it'll be worth your effort. Control touches on some serious topics, but Ahir Shah hasn't forgotten to put jokes in too. There's loads of them fact - big laughs to be had.

Anna Morris: Bitchelors. Anna Morris.

Anna Morris: Bitchelors

  • Stand-up / character
  • Free
  • 3:10pm (1 hour)
  • 5-15, 17-27 Aug 2017
  • The Voodoo Rooms

A finely crafted hour of entertainment from a master of character comedy in full bloom. Morris's performance - taking in 5 separate creations - is a delight.

Ashley Storrie: Morning Glory. Ashley Storrie.

Ashley Storrie: Morning Glory

In town for a limited time with a limited budget and want to experience authentic Scottish humour? Get yourself over to The Counting House to see this funny comedian tell you about growing up in a rather unconventional Glasgow family. She'll see you off with a closing story that will stay with you long after you've left town!

Bec Hill: Out of Order. Bec Hill.

Bec Hill: Out of Order

The audience dictates the running order of this show as Hill mixes it up with short jokes, longer anecdotes and her trademark artwork. There are lots of big laughs and the pop-up book she made aged 14 is something you'll never forget.

Charlotte Gittins: Mirror Image. Charlotte Gittins.

Charlotte Gittins: Mirror Image

Appropriately situated in a dank bunker, Charlotte Gittins weaves a many-stranded tale with apocalyptic overtones. Her well-honed voices breathe life into characters including a Jackanory-style reader, a Radio 4 announcer, a White House press secretary and others. She slowly strips the letters 'E' and 'U' from the English language with results equal parts stirring and funny.

Christopher Bliss: Writing Wrongs. Rob Carter.

Christopher Bliss: Writing Wrongs

Christopher Bliss (played by Rob Carter) is a terrible writer... he doesn't even seem to understand what a novel is. However, as a result, the five chapter story about a school boy that he's sharing with audiences at The Voodoo Rooms (mixed together with his general musings on how to write a good book) is brilliant. There are some huge laughs in this very clever show.

Colin Hoult / Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists. Colin Hoult.

Colin Hoult / Anna Mann in How We Stop the Fascists

This show is laugh-out-loud from start to finish. If you already love Anna Mann then know that this is her best show yet and you mustn't miss it. If you've yet to discover the creation of Colin Hoult get a ticket now to see an acting tour-de-force as Anna and other characters take on fascism.

Darren Harriott: Defiant. Darren Harriott.

Darren Harriott: Defiant

You may not have heard of Darren Harriott before. Time to memorise his name though, as this newcomer's debut show is packed with good jokes. It's a very impressive hour indeed and suggests he is now on the road to comedy stardom.

Ed Gamble: Mammoth. Ed Gamble.

Ed Gamble: Mammoth

The Mock The Week star has written his best show yet. An hour of slickly performed routines on topics ranging from marathon runners to awkward massages. If he keeps up this momentum he'll be playing arenas in a few years.

Fin Taylor: Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey. Fin Taylor.

Fin Taylor: Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey

Head to Fin Taylor's show to hear a refreshingly different take on topics such as terrorism, politics and white privilege. There are huge laughs to be had in this fast-paced show. Get your tickets quick, because the Tron basement isn't huge, and as word-of-mouth continues to spread, it'll soon be sold out.

Gavin Webster: It's About Time We Had More Women in There. Gavin Webster.

Gavin Webster: It's About Time We Had More Women in There

A cracking hour on his 1970s upbringing in a homogeneous North East town versus today's political correctness, moving into a dystopian future where nobody takes a pinch of salt. Lots of big laughs and the best joke about Hitler you'll ever hear.

Glenn Wool: Viva Forever. Glenn Wool.

Glenn Wool: Viva Forever

A well thought out show from a veteran of the festival. Wool has some particularly interesting things to talk about this year, thanks to some big changes in his living arrangements since his last show. There's lots of laughs to be had... there's even one before he's stepped on stage, if you're paying attention.

Hari Sriskantha: Clown Atlas. Hari Sriskantha.

Hari Sriskantha: Clown Atlas

This promising young comic begins by getting the crowd to pronounce his name properly, and proves a smooth and surprisingly commanding presence given his youth. Stories are related at a decent pace, and there are plenty of laughs to be had. He is clearly one to watch.

I Can Make You Tory. Leo Kearse.

I Can Make You Tory

Whilst not every joke quite lands its mark, this gag-packed show is a breath of fresh air, with great right-wing comic observations throughout.

Ivo Graham: Educated Guess. Ivo Graham.

Ivo Graham: Educated Guess

A very tightly-written show, packed with gags. Politics play a big part - but not in the way you might expect. Graham has a 'party trick' to demonstrate, rather than any satirical message on who to vote for.

Jayde Adams is Jayded. Jayde Adams.

Jayde Adams is Jayded

Jayde Adams is a proper hoot! In her show you'll find a Forrest Gump re-enactment, beatboxing and Phantom Of The Opera tunes slotted in around tales of terrible friendships, Adele impressions and aborted scissor kicks. If you're lucky, you might even get a chocolate!

Jenny Bede: Eggtime. Jenny Bede.

Jenny Bede: Eggtime

  • Stand-up
  • 10 - 13.50
  • 8:10pm (1 hour)
  • 2-13, 15-28 Aug 2017
  • Pleasance Dome

This show is about the increasingly loud ticking of Jenny's biological clock. Delivering an effervescent performance, Jenny does not take herself or her subject at all seriously. It should be enjoyed by all adults, not just those who can relate to her situation!

Joe Wells: I Hope I Die Before I Start Voting Conservative. Joe Wells.

Joe Wells: I Hope I Die Before I Start Voting Conservative

  • Stand-up / satire
  • Free
  • 12:05pm (1 hour)
  • 5-27 Aug 2017
  • Sneaky Pete's

If you're feeling Stewart Lee's absence at the Fringe this year, try this clever, funny hour on how ageing impacts a person's political views. It's thoughtful comedy with some big laughs.

John Kearns: Don't Worry They're Here.

John Kearns: Don't Worry They're Here

John Kearns's well-honed persona presents a poignant narrative that's interlaced with delightful crowd work and delivers a thought provoking pay-off.

John Robins: The Darkness of Robins. John Robins.

John Robins: The Darkness of Robins

John Robins bares his soul in this deeply personal show about the break-up of his relationship. It's mesmerising, heartfelt and touching, but - thanks to brilliant writing - manages to deliver huge laughs too. A must see.

Jon Pointing: Act Natural. Jon Pointing.

Jon Pointing: Act Natural

If you want to see a masterclass in acting, we're not sure where you should go. But if you want to see a masterclass in parodying a masterclass in acting, Jon Pointing (as Cayden Hunter) is your man. It's hard not to think 'David Brent' at times, but this is a show that's clearly been finely tuned over time and is perfectly executed.

Jordan Brookes: Body of Work. Jordan Brookes.

Jordan Brookes: Body of Work

Someone needs to invent a new descriptor so we can correctly label the work of Jordan Brookes. It's not stand-up, it's not acting... his show, which sees him stalking around his small room, is somewhere in the middle. What we can be clear on is that it's captivating, bold, different and definitely worth a look.

Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead. Joseph Morpurgo.

Joseph Morpurgo: Hammerhead

The best use of a projector in Edinburgh this August. It's hard to talk about the premise of Hammerhead without potentially spoiling the show, but suffice to say there are multiple big laughs in every minute of this hour revolving around a pretentious actor.

Kevin McAleer: Saying Yes to Yes. Kevin McAleer.

Kevin McAleer: Saying Yes to Yes

  • Storytelling / stand-up
  • 10
  • 1:30pm (1 hour)
  • 3-14, 16-27 Aug 2017
  • New Town Theatre

Kevin McAleer guides an hour course to the next level of human awareness. His lumberingly slow but lithe delivery of his tales fraught with slips and contradictions will leave your head spinning and your cheeks hurting. The hour feels richly long.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Appropriate Adult. Kiri Pritchard-McLean.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Appropriate Adult

One of the best MCs on the circuit brings an accomplished hour which focuses on her volunteer work, all the while tackling issues that face her generation. It's a well written, self-aware and thought-provoking show that is certainly worth your time.

Larry Dean: Fandan. Larry Dean.

Larry Dean: Fandan

A rising star in the world of stand-up comedy, Larry Dean is in Edinburgh with a tight hour packed with jokes. His routines are all loosely wrapped around the central story of the time he was sitting in a café with two murderers... that premise alone should be enough to convince you to check him out.

Lewis Schaffer: Unopened Letters From My Mother.

Lewis Schaffer: Unopened Letters From My Mother

Lewis Schaffer is reading previously unopened letters from his late mother. Be prepared for any emotion, from anger, to guilt, to floods of tears. As each show is led by a different letter it's hard to predict how it will go on any particular day, but it's worth finding out. If you took away the humour it could be a Tate Gallery art installation, but there's plenty of laughter to mask the pain...

Lost Voice Guy: Inspiration Porn.

Lost Voice Guy: Inspiration Porn

The return of Fringe favourite LVG sees him tackle the issue of the perception of disability in the public sphere, with far funnier results than you might imagine. Dark humour abounds, with particularly strong material about the raised expectations caused by the Paralympic Superhumans campaign. If you haven't seen him, well worth a look, and if you have, it's his funniest hour yet.

Lucy Pearman: Maid of Cabbage.

Lucy Pearman: Maid of Cabbage

In this brilliant character comedy, Lucy Pearman is an incompetent maid in search of a perfect cabbage. Occasionally her dark side is unleashed in the most inventive costume on the Fringe. Cabbage aficionados can expect plenty of audience interaction and lots of laughs.

Mae Martin: Dope. Mae Martin.

Mae Martin: Dope

  • Free
  • 8pm (1 hour)
  • 3-13, 15-27 Aug 2017
  • City Cafe

Mae Martin's show is one of the major word-of-mouth successes this year. It's a compendium of her obsessions; from Bette Midler, to performing stand-up, to much darker addictions. Mae steers us through them effortlessly with laughs aplenty and firm assurances of her recovery - it's OK, she even makes her own lasagnes now!

Mat Ewins Presents Adventureman 7: The Return of Adventureman. Mat Ewins.

Mat Ewins Presents Adventureman 7: The Return of Adventureman

Mat Ewins has clearly worked really hard to put this show together. Seriously hard. As one example: he's programmed a computer game for an audience member to play for one of the many varied multimedia segments of this wonderfully upbeat show. Tickets have already sold out, but hopefully he'll consider an Adventureman tour.

Michael Legge: Jerk. Michael Legge.

Michael Legge: Jerk

He's 48, he's angry and he wants to tell you why. He's not the jerk of the title, you'll have to wait until the end of the hour to find out who is, but it's worth the wait and the preceding hour is hugely entertaining. You may never listen to a certain Texas song the same way again!

Milo McCabe: The Talented Mr Hawke. Milo McCabe.

Milo McCabe: The Talented Mr Hawke

Meet the charming Troy Hawke... a lounge lizard with a love of Scrabble. This character-based stand-up set is packed with laughs. You'll never be able to walk past a Poundland again without thinking about a certain pop star.

Neil Delamere: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Pensioner. Neil Delamere.

Neil Delamere: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Pensioner

This show is tucked away at Gilded Balloon at the Museum and is worth the short trip over the road from the main action. His audience banter is sublime and if that was all he did for an hour you wouldn't leave feeling cheated. He does however weave in an uproarious tale of meals on wheels, rosary beads and fishnet stockings. Go see how they're all connected!

Nick Coyle: Queen of Wolves. Nick Coyle.

Nick Coyle: Queen of Wolves

Nick Coyle plays with the tropes of the haunted theatre genre and despite a relatively low budget still manages to pull off a few decent tricks of his own. A silly hour made remarkable by this talented and captivating performer.

Nick Helm: Masterworks in Progress '17. Nick Helm.

Nick Helm: Masterworks in Progress '17

This is a work in progress show from Nick Helm. It's energetic, loud, funny and marginally inappropriate, with fine musical accompaniment from David Trent. This is classic Helm; if you're not laughing, you're wanting to give him a hug and tell him it will all be OK.

Paul Currie: Cats in My Mouth. Paul Currie.

Paul Currie: Cats in My Mouth

High energy clowning with a lot of audience participation. Throw your hooves in the air and lose yourself to silliness as a singing cat and see what can happen when an audience totally gets behind a performer.

Phil Wang: Kinabalu. Phil Wang.

Phil Wang: Kinabalu

A really funny hour of comedy from Phil Wang. His unique turns of phrase will have you giggling before the main punchlines even arrive. His confident laid-lack style is generating lots of great reviews - turn up to see for yourself that all the praise is indeed justified.

Ray Bradshaw: Deaf Comedy Fam. Ray Bradshaw.

Ray Bradshaw: Deaf Comedy Fam

A thoroughly enjoyable hour from a Scottish comic with deaf parents. Comedy derives from the adventures they have had, but never descends into mawkish sentiment and is regularly funny. British Sign Language is used throughout by different means.

Rob Auton: The Hair Show. Rob Auton.

Rob Auton: The Hair Show

Rob Auton explores the concept of 'hair', analysing it in ways you wouldn't have thought possible. His delicate turn of phrase is a delight to hear and he has a truly unique voice, which, among the hundreds of acts at the Fringe, is no mean feat.

Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead. Rob Kemp. Copyright: Peril Design / Copyright Splash Photography.

Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead

A baffling but brilliant re-telling of the film The Evil Dead 2 via the songs of Elvis Presley, this works far better than the premise would suggest! Even if you don't know the film, you will be swept along with the singalong potential, hilarious lyrics and sight gags. Starting at midnight in an ideal room at the Monkey Barrel, it's a great way to end the day.

Rose Matafeo: Sassy Best Friend. Rose Matafeo.

Rose Matafeo: Sassy Best Friend

Identifying as the girl who's never the lead role in a romcom, this is a very funny examination of the personality types expected of young women today. Her 'deleted scenes' of impressions and short sketches are a delight.

Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen. Sarah Kendall.

Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen

Another great storytelling show from Sarah Kendall. There are times you could hear a pin drop the audience is so focused on her words... but there's some big laughs too.

Sean Patton: Number One. Sean Patton.

Sean Patton: Number One

You may not have heard of this comedian from New Orleans before, but you should catch him whilst he's over here at the Fringe, as he has a great hour of tales to tell. Find out why balls have the power to shape lives and discover how being OCD can help save us from climate change.

Seymour Mace's Magical Shitcakes from Heaven. Seymour Mace.

Seymour Mace's Magical Shitcakes from Heaven

Laugh in the face of depression with this perfect blend of clowning and stand-up. A joyous hour of madness, puppets and interpretative dance. This show has the best ending on the Fringe; the kind of fun you've not had since primary school.

Simon Evans: Genius. Simon Evans.

Simon Evans: Genius

Fast and furious wordy comedy that never misses a beat. He covers a lot - family, Brexit, politics, health - under a broad theme of intellect and where it went. Those of us old enough to remember life in the 70s will recognise his bafflement at today's dumbing down. It's an hour with a high 'jokes per pound' ratio and lots of big laughs.

Sketch Thieves.

Sketch Thieves

  • Sketch show
  • Free
  • 1:45pm (1 hour)
  • 3-14, 16-27 Aug 2017
  • City Cafe

A simple but intriguing premise. Each day, four acts perform a short set of sketches, then during the second half they are randomly paired up and tasked with re-performing what they just saw the others do. There are no points for accuracy, or any points at all. There is, however, a tendency for the groups to make the most of the opportunity to roast their rivals - sometimes preemptively, sometimes out of revenge. Delightfully unpredictable fun!

Sophie Willan: Branded. Sophie Willan.

Sophie Willan: Branded

Small and sweet of countenance, Lancashire lass Sophie starts with a lot of fine jokes, followed by an intriguing adult story about her previous occupations. Tied in cleverly to larger issues about contemporary British society, there are nevertheless frequent laughs and a satisfying conclusion.

Steen Raskopoulos - The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess. Steen Raskopoulos.

Steen Raskopoulos - The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess

A brilliantly crafted hour of sketches in which the audience are the stars of many of the routines. It doesn't matter where you sit, you may end up on stage. Don't let that put you off going though... things are carefully constructed to ensure those in the limelight don't feel awkward but shine.

Stuart Goldsmith: Like I Mean It. Stuart Goldsmith.

Stuart Goldsmith: Like I Mean It

An engaging hour covering all that spans between the happiness after marriage and children, and the mortal fear and existential loneliness of age and fatherhood. A finely-tuned, expertly written set well-sold by his energetic, witty and charming delivery.

Suzi Ruffell: Keeping It Classy. Suzi Ruffell.

Suzi Ruffell: Keeping It Classy

Ruffell's life might have been a bit of a sad mess over the last year (featuring a relationship break-up and deaths in the family), but she has funnelled all this into a well-crafted hour of upbeat comedy. Social mobility features strongly, as she jokes about becoming middle class.

The Naz Show. Naz Osmanoglu.

The Naz Show

A fast paced hour of outrageous characters and plenty of laughs. Naz's raw mix of energy, talent and charisma is a winning combination.

Tony Law: Absurdity for the Common People. Tony Law.

Tony Law: Absurdity for the Common People

Tony Law's on top form in this high energy hour on time travel, semi-professional trampolining and shadow puppetry. He critiques his comedy as he races along and a range of different voices join in - a dip into someone else's stream of consciousness has never been so funny.

Twonkey's Christmas in the Jungle. Paul Vickers.

Twonkey's Christmas in the Jungle

The winner of last year's Malcolm Hardee Award has lost none of his surreal spark. Mr Twonkey (Paul Vickers) guides us through the jungle full of adventure, song and puppetry. This show includes a ship's wheel decorated with knickers, a flying tailor and a literal narrative thread.

We Are Not Afraid.

We Are Not Afraid

These two diminutive performers inhabit the whole room, getting the audience involved in their largely improvised antics. The pair have a remarkable synergy and play off one another, with a series of mirrored and often surreal dances and comedic skits.

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