The 2022 Edinburgh Festival was arguably the most successful in history for working class comedians: Amy Gledhill became the first person since the Edinburgh Comedy Awards were created in 1981 to be nominated for both Best Newcomer and Best Show in the same year; Jordan Gray earned more stars than the Hollywood red carpet that she will undoubtably end up on; while Best In Class won the Panel Prize for the work they do in helping comics from poorer backgrounds to make the festival more accessible.
Earlier this year - perhaps inspired by Sian Davies' speech after winning the Panel Prize - The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, spearheaded by society president Phoebe Waller-Bridge, announced the Keep It Fringe fund, which awarded £2000 to 50 different Fringe artists to help support their 2023 shows. An initiative aimed at helping people from diverse backgrounds to bring their shows to the festival, I was one of a number of working-class comedians who benefitted from the fund.
While the Fringe is far from perfect, and there will always be more than needs to be done to make it a fair and accessible playground for all, it at least feels like we have made a couple of steps forward since this time last year. I certainly know that my last 6 months have been far less worrying and stressful because of the safety net the fund granted me. It really has made a huge different to how I have felt working on the show, and as a result, my show this year is the silliest and most upbeat hour I have created. Who'd have thought that not having a dark cloud of money worries hanging over you would change your approach to creativity?
But even with the help of that fund, I am still not someone who can afford PR, or massive posters, or a football team worth of flyerers - I know a lot of working class acts are in a similar boat. The way we overcome this is by sticking together, looking out for each-other, and shouting about each-other's shows from the rooftops. With that in mind, here is a list of working class comedians. Treat it like Pokemon and see if you can Catch 'em All!
Our fifth year! Back with top Black international comedy acts, prize games, cabaret and giving a token straight white male comic a chance they rarely get. With previous headliners such as Paul Sinha, Desiree Burch, Dane Baptiste and Daliso Chaponda, there's a fresh line-up every day. It's like a 1970s cabaret show but with more colour and less racism!
Kayvan Khazaee, Adrian Hanlon and a special guest will entertain you for an hour of stand up comedy. Kayvan Khazaee is a half Iranian, half Geordie who is also partially sighted. With an anecdotal style, he talks about cultural struggles being brought up in the North East, alongside battling life with a rare eye condition. Join Adrian for a good hearty laugh. Adrian is an observational comic with a mixed-race heritage that includes Irish traveller. His everyday comical observations, authentic anecdotes and razor-sharp joke telling rails against class stereotypes with tongue-in-cheek self deprecation.
'I need tae make ma ain decision, even if it's wrang.' Alba High. 2014. Paul and his S4 classmates battle with their first ever vote - the independence referendum, whilst navigating history lessons and teenage life in working class Glasgow. Featuring songs both original and inspired! Action Theatre Scotland presents the world premiere of Alba, an original play by Jack Byrne and Jordan Howat.
Have you ever done anything wrong? Alex has; relationships, sex, feminism, kids, even dancing. The only thing she's gotten right was writing a show about it. And losing her virginity. Where we want to be seen publicly to be good, nothing in life is black and white, and the grey part is a lot more fun. 'One of the most exciting new acts on the circuit' (Frankie Boyle). Best New Show nominee (Leicester Comedy Festival 2023). Tour support for Frankie Boyle and Eshaan Akbar. As heard on BBC Radio 4 Extra.
Soup: Comedian du jour, Alison Spittle is simmering with jokes and probably rage, she doesn't know what the burning sensation is. This silly goose has appeared on on Off Menu, You're Dead To Me, Guilty Feminist, The Gargle and co-host of BBC Sounds Wheel of Misfortune podcast with Kerry Katona. Tour support for Fern Brady and Maria Bamford. Full sell-out Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022 and voted one of British Comedy Guide's best reviewed shows. 'An hour of near faultless material' **** (Skinny). 'Had the full house rolling in the aisles' **** (Daily Express). 'Just hilarious' **** (BroadwayBaby.com).
Can we get better or should we just be wiped out? Darker, more honest, and still wearing a hat. Ashley is bringing his brand of caustic satire to watch over the world as it burns. 'Absolutely merciless... he is terrific' (Scotsman).
It's a Boy? is from the wildly creative comic mind of Ben Hodge, Liverpool Echo's Top 30 under 30 and winner of Into Film Documentary of the Year 2020. 'Ben is such an exciting act. Tonnes of charm and stage presence all topped off with killer jokes' (Kiri Pritchard-Mclean). 'Relatable and likeable yet infinitely self-aware' (Blizzard Comedy). Ben Hodge debuts his first live one-man show exploring themes of gender expression and trans masculinity in relation to growing up in a world where his transgender identity was sought out through Yorkie bars and Closer magazine.
Multi award-winning comedian Cheekykita's one-woman, tour-de-force nonsense ride... where will we end up? From sea to the universe, an octopus and other daft stuff... we will go somewhere and it will be fun. Hell yeah, a lot of fun and (very) silly dancing, songs, creatures and an octopus... of course... a big one. We might go to space... why not? ***** (FunnyWomen.com). 'Silliest, maddest, funniest hour I have ever spent' ***** (EdFringeReview.com). 'A true Gem' (Tom Ward). 'Hilarious' (Alan Davies). 'A weirdo somewhere universe of Boosh' (Chortle.co.uk). 'Bizarre and strangely entertaining' (Kate Copstick).
Observational stand-up comedy and original hip-hop music. Written and performed by Birmingham's Luke Anthony McDonnell, a working-class comic with a smidge of sophistication. Too savage for the cultured. Too cultured for savages. 'Luke doesn't give a f**k, more comedians should be like him' (Leo Kearse, Scottish Comedian of the Year). 'A gifted comedian, brings great energy to any room he plays' (West End Comedy Club).
Most of us are supposed to mellow with age and Dane shouldn't be the angry black man the media portrays him to be at times. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's been a long time since he was the first black British act nominated for an Edinburgh award. But post-pandemic, he's now back and more mature with his adult alias: Bapsquire.
A revolving lineup of disabled comedians and friends present an irreverent comedy show for your enjoyment. We're not brave, we're not inspiring, we're just here to make you laugh and park in the disabled bays. Hosted by comedians Benny Shakes, who 'keeps the audience animated and energetic' (Liam O'Dell), and Mark Nicholas, 'The autistic Dave Grohl' (Sam Rhodes).
Two comedians. One is a story-telling, working-class guy from Hull. The other is a short round man with a small guitar and big loud voice, who wants to make you boogie! Eddy MacKenzie - Holidays, Dinosaurs, and MD2020; Eddy MacKenzie writes songs about all the important things in life! 'The love-child of Brian Blessed and Jack Black' (Chortle.co.uk). Paul Connell delivers his material with energy and enthusiasm to take the audience on a journey with unexpected twists and turns and a heartfelt emotional message.
'Any nation that devours another will one day devour itself.' This is a one-man play written for Mark Thomas by award-winning playwright Ed Edwards (The Political History of Smack and Crack). With some deep, dark laughs - and some deep, dark love - England & Son emerges from characters in Mark's childhood and Ed's lived experience in jail. Prepare to be taken on a kaleidoscopic odyssey where disaster capitalism, empire, stolen youth and stolen wealth merge into the simple tale of a working-class boy who just wants his dad to smile at him.
Vile, vulgar and scabrous, there is an indefatigable and irrepressible sense of humour that accompanies the Glaswegian working class and their spirit. To purport to embody this would be awful, but this is braw, queer and outrageous to the nth degree inflected through the social geography of such an idiosyncratic as Glasgow. Nothing is sacrosanct as this show explores the banalities and peculiar juxtapositions and dichotomous nature of the dear green place. Pot shots aplenty will be taken in this show whose satiric scope is as wide as the gap in Scottish education.
The debut hour from Fiona Ridgewell. Expect laughs, revelations, the solution to fracking... OK, maybe not the last one but Fiona is an optimist! A Funny Women finalist, her previous show Contender was nominated at Leicester Comedy Festival. 'Fiona has a direct cheeky sense of humour' (Steve Bennett, Chortle.co.uk). 'She has funny bones and an easy warmth on stage' (Julia Chamberlain).
Glass Crumpet presents a triple bill of brand new stand-up from comedy graduates Will Rice, Tom Roberts and James Tangye. Founded in 2022, Glass Crumpet is a Manchester-based comedy group with the ethos of making comedy accessible to everyone, regardless of their income, who promote comedy by the working class, for the working class. Will, Tom and James return to the Fringe after their debut as part of SalFunni 2022, with a brand new show. Featuring Special Guests every night, Glass Crumpet are one not to miss.
A work in progress from BBC New Comedy Awards finalist Hannah Platt. Hannah has already been making her mark as a comic, having been described as 'a voice of a new generation' by The Skinny and 'a distinctive voice with something to say' by Chortle, never shying away from sensitive topics with acerbic, brutal honesty and quick wit. She recently wrote and starred in her own Laugh Lesson for BBC Three, has performed and written for BBC Radio 4 and has supported Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, Fern Brady and Lou Sanders on tour.
Award-winning 'brilliant... natural comic' (Guardian) John Travulva teams up with his tick-box protégé: queer, non-binary class-straddler Jodie Mitchell (Comedy Central Live). But does he need to? He's not sure, he gets plenty of praise as himself: 'John Travulva's set is so funny it makes all the comedy in my life up to this point redundant' (TheatreBubble.com). 'The comedy turn by John Travulva... left me with actual tears of laughter' (DIVA Magazine). 'Travulva... has the audience in the palm of their hand, with excellent comic timing and real warmth' (Upper-Circle.com). 'Standout talent' (Stage).
50% Bristolian. 50% Iranian. 103% stupid. A high-energy, bittersweet story about the complexity of Kamali's dual heritage, mixed with the absurdities of love and parenting. Using physical comedy and clowning, Jody presents his life story almost like a movie. There's a voice over, multiple characters and a banging sound track. It's silly but full of love. 'Demands applause' (Scotsman). 'Hilarious, life-affirming, bonding' (Guardian). 'Unquestionably entertaining' (Chortle.co.uk).
After a sold-out run at the 2022 Fringe, a historic performance at The London Palladium, a game-changing set on Friday Night Live, and a triumphant season at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, Jordan returns to Edinburgh once more to take on babies, boobies, bigots and Batman in this blistering music and comedy show. After 10 years in the music biz, Jordan Gray has suddenly become one of the UK's most exciting and celebrated rising comics, recently winning the Channel 4 Comedy Breakthrough Star Award. Jordan's been featured on the BBC, ITV, Sky and Comedy Central.
Brand-new show from everyone's favourite gobby Manc Princess and Edinburgh Comedy Awards' Best Newcomer nominee. As seen on: The Jonathan Ross Show, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled, Dating No Filter, Comedy Central's Guessable, Rhod Gilbert's Growing Pains and Comedy Central Live. Co-host on Dave's Hard Sell with Darren Harriott and hit podcast Chatting with Cherubs with Morgan Rees. Featured on The Independent's Best Jokes of the Festival 2022. 'Must-see act' (Rolling Stone). 'Hilarious' **** (Entertainment-Now.com). 'Josh is purely about entertaining' **** (One4Review.com).
The horrifying debut from the award-winning poof prince of puppets. Lachy is a poof, and apparently a virgin. Brew is a small, squishy witch, and she has decided to sacrifice him. To help with his self-esteem. In this 'must-see' (TheReviewsHub.com) sell-out hit, ventriloquist/clown, Lachlan Werner, presents 'the definitive queer puppet show' (LostInTheatreland.co.uk). An occult ritual, where demonic voices come from every corner and anyone could get puppeteered by evil. Reviews Hub Brighton Fringe Best Show Award Winner; VAULT Comedy Breakthrough nominee 2023; LGBTQ+ New Comedian of the Year 2022 runner up.
Lee Kyle has been a comedian for 14 years and very good for the last few. He's rebranded as England's Best Comedian and will now have to back this up. Pressure creates diamonds? His full stand-up special Disco Twix is on YouTube now! 'Leader of the revolution' (Times). 'Whip smart jokes' (One4Review.co.uk). 'Very funny' (Manchester Evening News). 'A brilliant performance... Pure genius! (NarcMagazine.com).
Jack is an unashamedly stereotypical left-wing, working-class, socialist comedian. But he's noticed that left-wing politics might be popular online, though not everywhere else in the world. Come join him as he tries to find common ground in an incredibly volatile period in British politics where no one knows how its going to end, potentially in a ridiculous culture war in which everyone suffers with rising inequality while we complain about what Gary Lineker or Katie Hopkins says. There will be some jokes too.
Alright bab!? Debut stand-up hour from one of the most exciting voices to come out of Brum in recent years. Since appearing as part of Best in Class in 2018, Lindsey has made numerous appearances across TV, radio and podcasts, including Comedy Central Live and Sarah Millican's Elephant in the Room (BBC Radio 4). She has recently supported Joe Lycett on tour including support at Wembley Arena. 2021 Finalist at the British Comedian of the Year. 'One of the most naturally hysterical and gifted comedians in recent memory' (Joe Lycett). 'A star in the making' (Chortle.co.uk).
You can't complete a night out with your friends unless someone has cried over their ex, you've made a new best friend in the toilets that you'll never see again, and you've done three laps of the bar looking for Lisa. Seriously though, where is she? Our friends are our chosen family. From the happiest times to breaking up with friends, grab a pint (of wine) and Louise will recount some of her funniest memories. Hopefully we find Lisa.
Rising star Mamoun Elagab brings his highly anticipated debut show to the Edinburgh Fringe. Born to academics, a dark turn put Mamoun's life into new perspective. This is not champagne socialism - this is the voice of the people. Finalist of every competition worth winning, including BBC New Comedy Award, Leicester Square New Comedian of the Year, Chortle Student Comedy Award. Alumnus of the Pleasance Reserve. 'A loaded wit and a mischievous way of tweaking liberal guilt' (Chortle.co.uk).
Omar is a working class, mixed race, neurodivergent comedian who dislikes labels. Influenced by a British-Pakistani heritage and a few too many acid trips, Decolonise This is an idiot's attempt to unpick the cultural conversation around race and identity, asking the deepest questions of at least the last 10 minutes. 'Well-crafted cathartic absurdity' **** (TheReviewsHub.com). 'A reminder that we are all idiots, himself included' (Chortle.co.uk).
Ace in the Whole is a hilarious show by working class Hull comedian Paul Connell. The show is filled with weird and wonderful stories with a heartfelt message that will leave you contemplating life in a beautiful way.
Do you like comedy? Do you like shows? What are your thoughts on excellence? If you like all three, then Edinburgh Award-winning Phil Ellis's Excellent Comedy Show is the excellent comedy show for you. An hour of hilarious stand-up and fun from the North West's most punctual working-class comedian. As seen and heard on BBC Two, Channel 4, BBC Three, Comedy Central and BBC Radio 4. 'Ellis as a character is both completely likeable and absolutely appalling' ***** (Scotsman). **** (List). **** (Guardian). **** (Times). **** (Chortle.co.uk).
Join award-winning comedian Kathryn Mather in this slightly dark, slightly whimsical show about finding love and finding yourself against the backdrop of the pandemic.
Where do you go when your role models let you down? Join award-winning comedian and jumped-up pantry boy Sian on a journey through masculinity and gender identity via Salford Lads Club (puncture repair kit not included). Winner: Edinburgh Comedy Awards Panel Prize for Best in Class 2022. Winner: Best Debut Show Leicester Comedy Festival 2020. 'Compelling and distinctive' (Scotsman). 'Very funny observational stand-up... imagine a queer Peter Kay[/o] with more emotional literacy and a quiff like young Morrissey' (Evening Standard). Directed by Elf Lyons and supported by Homotopia.
Sikisa brings her second stand-up hour to the Fringe and this time it's personal, as she asks: why is it so hard to say the right things? As seen and heard on Live at the Apollo (BBC), Jonathan Ross' Comedy Club (ITV) and the Off-Menu podcast. Three-time Leicester Comedy Festival nominee and tour support for Kiri Pritchard-Mclean and Catherine Cohen. 'Uproariously hilarious' **** (Scotsman). 'Great fun' **** (FunnyWomen.com). 'Infectious charm and cheek' **** (ITalkTelly.com) **** Telegraph. **** (Entertainment Now).
The true story of a Queer, British, South Asian sex worker under pressure to marry his cousin. Compelling, witty and above all else, unpredictable! You have to be suicidal to talk openly about being gay and Muslim; when you add sex work to the mix, it becomes explosive! An earnest and vulnerable tale with high camp. When the only options are to marry your cousin or learn to do your own ironing, that's enough to turn a gay man straight! An unapologetic celebration of working-class queerness. Genuinely funny and compelling.
When working class, Cornish comedian Tamsyn Kelly (BBC New Comedy Awards, Comedy Central Live), discovers footage of her estranged father in a Channel 4 documentary, she's forced to stop and reassess her life. How have men shaped who she is? Will the chicken-shop guy ever give her the time of day? Why was Mr Blobby her first crush? A brutally honest, but fair appraisal of the men in her life, from a woman who has cried in most high-street shops. **** (FunnyWomen.com). 'Hilarious' (Independent). 'Great charm' (Chortle.co.uk).
Working-class comedian Tom Mayhew returns to the Fringe with a show about dreams and endless hope. But it's mainly jokes about how weird and annoying capitalism is. As heard on The Alexei Sayle Podcast. 'Passionate, articulate and hilarious.' **** (Skinny). 'Mayhew is a voice that needs to be heard' **** (Chortle.co.uk). 'Comedy shining a light on some grim, unjust places' **** (Scotsman). 'This is political comedy from a fresh and necessary perspective' **** (TheWeeReview.com). 'Tory-hating leftie' **** (Daily Mail). The acceptable face of class war' (Mark Watson).
William Stone (BBC New Comedy Award finalist and Moth Club star) wants you to spend an hour with him taking it easy, inspired by YouTube relaxation playlists. Put your feet up and enjoy a joke-filled show in a relaxed atmosphere with chill beats to help you slow down that brain and enjoy a much-needed rest during the festival. Contains zero peril. 'An excellent writer of quirky one-liners' (Chortle.co.uk).
William Thompson (BBC New Comedy Awards finalist 2021, as seen and heard on Dave, Channel 4 and BBC Scotland) is a rising star from Belfast. Growing up disabled on a Northern Irish council estate, where people aren't known to be sympathetic, William struggled with living with his grandparents, relationships and stereotypes; trying his best to make the most out of the hand he was dealt. Co-host of The Mudblood Podcast, regular guest on Tea With Me, support for Shane Todd and Paddy McDonnellod] on tour, and has sold-out shows across the UK.