2018 Edinburgh Fringe

Vegan comedians at the Fringe

Lou Sanders. Copyright: Idil Sukan

Here's a fun fact: in the last five years, a vegan comedian has either been nominated for or won the main Edinburgh Comedy Award. For a lifestyle that involves a lot of late-night eating in service stations, it's surprising how many stand-up comedians are vegan. Some of the UK's best-loved comics such as Simon Amstell, Romesh Ranganathan and Sara Pascoe have been vegan for years, seemingly unhampered by protein deficiency.

As the rise of veganism continues unchecked - and even Greggs, stalwart of the cheap lunch and the cheap gag, have this summer introduced a vegan wrap - we take a look at vegan comedians performing at the Fringe this year.

Carl Donnelly has eschewed animal products for years. He says he took ayahuasca, and when he came down from his trip was surprised to find he'd become a vegan, a lesson for all of us about the dangers of narcotics. This is his tenth year at the Fringe and he's so powered by plants that he's doing two shows: Strictly Carl Donnelly! at The Counting House and for five nights only Carl Donnelly Speaks to Dead People on Bob's Blundabus. He's been nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Awards twice and he's always brilliant; Strictly Carl Donnelly! is a great show and we're looking forward to joining him to communicate with the dead.

In an interesting move for someone raised on a farm, Kiri Pritchard-McLean turned vegan after researching empathy for a show, and is this year performing in no fewer than three Fringe productions. In her own show, Victim, Complex at Pleasance Courtyard, she wrestles big laughs out of an emotional subject and shows herself as an expert story-teller. She's also co-hosting another of the hugely successful Amusical shows at the same venue, and producing four live podcasts of the excellent All Killa No Filla at the Underbelly with partner in crime Rachel Fairburn before they tour the States in autumn.

Ed Gamble

Ed Gamble (pictured above) is another recent convert to veganism, despite being Type 1 diabetic. He recently wrote about his life with diabetes and says he turned vegan because he's "very cutting edge and individual", like all the other cool kids. His show Blizzard is on at Pleasance Courtyard and it's another great hour with very funny material on diabetes.

Another cool kid is Lou Sanders, whose show Shame Pig at Monkey Barrel features a beautiful porker on the poster (pictured, top). Not only is she vegan, she's also teetotal and she talks about sobriety in her show with her trademark off-beat, teasing style that makes for a very funny hour.

Chris Stokes has described himself in the past as "six and a half stone of vegan fury" though to be fair he's at least three stone heavier than that and his comedy is less fury and more laid back, disarming and very funny. He's passionate about animal welfare and has been vegan for well over ten years, which establishes his seniority in the vegan community just as years on the circuit give the 'age' of a comedian. You can see his show We Don't Need Roads at Just the Tonic at the Tron.

Jessie Cave (below) became vegan, she says, in a game of keepie-uppie with her erstwhile partner Alfie Brown. If you're lucky enough to get a ticket to her show Sunrise at The Stand, you're in for a treat as she gives an eye-wateringly honest and endearing account of their break up. You can see Alfie Brown's show Lunatic at Monkey Barrel - expect an hour of intelligent, questioning comedy on identity politics.

Jessie Cave. Copyright: Idil Sukan

Justin Moorhouse describes himself as an 'undercover vegan'. Maybe the sports-loving northern fella in his 40s doesn't look like the stereotype of a vegan, but he ditched the meat years ago and his whole family is vegan. You can see him stuffing his face with vegan ice cream in Edinburgh on his Instagram and you can see his show Northern Joker at the Gilded Balloon. He always does a cracking hour with big laughs, so we're looking forward to this one.

Lastly, vegan Sean Morley is one of the most unusual comedy acts you'll ever see. His show I Apologise For My Recent Behaviour at Dragonfly plays masterfully with the audience in an eloquent, fluid hour of asking for and giving forgiveness (it's hard to explain - just go and see it).

Most of these shows will barely mention veganism, if at all. Just as Ed Gamble says in his article on diabetes, it is rarely discussed on stage because "for a comedian to successfully execute observational comedy, the audience need to be armed with basic knowledge about the topic he or she is tackling". Even at the world's biggest arts festival, most of the audience aren't vegan and won't know what nooch is.

However one gig where you can expect both vegan material and vegan food is Matt Hoss' Viva Las Vegans, the world's only vegan comedy club, every Thursday to Sunday morning in August at Henderson's, Edinburgh's legendary vegetarian cafe. Fingers crossed these shows will feature the comedians mentioned above as well as Andrew O'Neill, Harriet Kemsley, Myq Kaplan, Dave Chawner, Adele Cliff, Phil Cooper, Lucas Jolson, Gary Tro and all the other vegan comedians we've unwittingly missed out. Really, they should mention it more often...

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