As another Edinburgh Fringe careers to a contentious conclusion, and lots of talk turns to awards, it's good to also take a wider look at which shows were great this year. So we've asked some real experts - the other performers - to give us their three favourites from Fringe '22. Here are the first half-dozen.
(Voicemail, Just the Tonic @ Mash House)
Pierre Novellie: Why Can't I Just Enjoy Things?
I go and see Pierre every Fringe and he never disappoints. His specialty is gimmick-free stand-up but honed to a perfection you rarely see in most Fringe shows, littered with delicious little flourishes. Easily the funniest show I've seen.
Olga Koch: Just Friends
Despite being 29, Olga has the stand-up persona of a sort of drunk, horny aunt. Her show is some of the most intelligent filth available, including a routine about being fingered by a magician that sticks with you.
Alex Kealy: Winner Takes All
I'm a politics nerd so I love Alex's work. It's not always considered a virtue in stand-up these days but his shows are very clever - with analytical routines and well chosen references but with the occasional bit of smut that catches you off guard.
(The First Pregnant Woman in the World, Underbelly Bristo Square)
Sooz Kempner: PlayStation
From the minute you walk into Sooz's room you know you are in safe (and hilarious) hands, she's so comfortable on stage. Her enthusiasm for things that she cares about is contagious, making you fall a bit in love with her, and she's a true triple threat (comedy, singing, gymnastics).
Josh Glanc: Vrooom Vrooom
I laughed out loud from the minute this started and I'm still laughing as I write this thinking about the sketch involving hair growth pills. It's a whole load of lovely silly fun with some genuinely touching character work and a level of audacity that left me howling in places. Watching his show made me wish I was a completely different type of comedian, but I'd never be cheeky or cool enough to pull it off.
John Hastings: Do You Have Any Ointment My John Hastings
One of the stand-up greats and one of the nicest men in comedy. Insanely high joke rate and the best out there at crowd work. He so clearly loves what he's doing and has a confidence I wish I could borrow. I think he'll be huge one day, and it will be nothing but completely deserved.
(Black And White, The Stand)
At the Traverse, a moving and clever trans love story. Made me cry.
Shazia Mirza: Coconut
She is one of my favourite comedians and is as always sharp as a dart and funny as hell.
Victoria Melody: Headset
My favourite performance artist, who always does immersive training in the world of the enthusiasts she explores. This year she explores stand-up. Great show.
(Medico, Just the Tonic @ Nucleus)
Fabulett 1933 by Michael Trauffer
A queer one person musical set on the closing night of the cabaret Fabulett, following an order from the new German leadership that 'all venues that promote immorality' have to close. This is an absolute gem of a show. Poignant, thought-provoking and also with several really funny moments. Michael's performance is outstanding and his songs went directly to my heart.
Luca Cupani: Happy Orphan
A wonderful stand-up show, where Luca talks about his mother's death and how 'fine' he is about it. The show is full of out-loud laughing moments. Luca is an extraordinary comedian with a very likeable personality and blessed with dark wit. An absolute treat.
Nathan Cassidy: Hot Tub God and Nathan Cassidy: Observational
Nathan is a master of comedy and in these shows he offers high quality entertainment and thought-provoking stories. His ability to tell stories is extremely engaging, and together with his excellent performance skills these shows are a MUST see!
(How to Record the Greatest Album of All Time, Just the Tonic @ Mash House)
Tony Law: A Now Begin in Again
In a world turned upside down, is this surrealist comedy legend suddenly the one who can make sense of it all? Got a sober midday audience laughing like a drunken Saturday night at... a Tony Law gig, within seconds of being on stage.
Police Cops: The Musical
The first show I saw this year and it set the bar pretty damn high. Trying to explain this one is hard but the physical humour here is amazing, as is the dedication to every 80s police trope you can think of. Look out for the raccoon facts.
Boris the Third
Thanks to his defenestration, I'm finally of a mind to laugh at our bumbling pound-shop Churchill again. This show captures the essence of the man perfectly and makes you ask the necessary question: WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED TO THIS COUNTRY!?!
(The Writing on the Stall, Underbelly Bristo Square)
The Gods, The Gods, The Gods
Part rap opera, part dance party, part immersive concert, this show transported me to another dimension. HIGHLY recommend.
These two create a whole show out of sketch that weaves everything together beautifully, absurdly, and hilariously.
Jordan Gray: Is It a Bird?
The first show I saw this fringe, and I continue to shout about it. It's daring and hilarious and poignant and silly. She shines!
(Pandemic, Just the Tonic @ The Caves)
John Hastings: Do You Have Any Ointment My John Hastings
If I could ever steal something from a comic, I'd steal John's power to be present in the moment when he performs. Hour full of jokes, with a healthy portion of them being about something small that just happened in the room.
Bobby Mair: Cockroach
I always love watching Bobby. His jokes are the perfect size, two- minute bit after two-minute bit. Not so short that they seem superficial and not long enough to feel preachy.
Andy Field: Ideas (,) Man
The best 'I pooped myself' story I've ever heard. There is a chance I might go and see the show again.