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Fringe tips

Make the most of last week of school hols

Vlad headFor visiting performers and Edinburgh residents alike, it may seem as if The Fringe has been going on for months.  Last weekend, and the week leading up to it were officially billed as “previews” but in truth the whole circus now has an extra week added on before it has even started.

Every year, every venue promoter on the Fringe will claim that their audience numbers have increased by x or y percent.  Most insiders in the business take these claims with a massive shovelful of salt. 

However, based on my own experience and on anecdotal evidence from other comedians, this year does seem to be busier than 2015.  The streets are certainly heaving with people at night, although whether these are audience members or Free Fringe performers is unclear.

Every year, there are ever more free shows on offer, and the quality of these shows cannot be guaranteed.  There is a very good reason why some of them are free.   Having said that, there some really top quality shows on the Free Festival.  Indeed, many of this week’s recommendations are for free shows.

Typically, the Scottish weather has decided to be as difficult and unpredictable as possible and we have already experienced torrential rain, high winds and tropical heat in the space of a few days. 

The chill in the evening air reminds us that autumn is just around the corner and for many Scottish families, this is the last full week of holiday before the schools return.  So take the chance this week to take in a daytime show.  From lunchtime right through the afternoon, there is comedy on offer for adults and children, and many shows that will appeal to both. Here are some that I would recommend.

SCIENCE AND MAGIC

Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters, Colgate 11 am  Daily

Irish comedian Donal Vaughn won the Laughing Horse New Act of the Year competition in 2015, and brings his first solo adult show up to Edinburgh this year.  He is also presenting this kids’ show every morning.  Some morning shows can be compelling simply because the performers are clearly hungover.  That will not be an issue here, as Vaughn is a tee-totaller.  More importantly, he is a delightful comedian to watch at any time of day.

TOPICAL STORM
Stand 6, York Place  5.20  Daily except Monday 15th
I can make no claims about the lack of hungover comedians in this show. Indeed, I would be willing to bet that on any given day, one of this four-man teatime panel show will still be feeling the effects of the night before.  I know, because I am one of them.  A mixture of stand-up, chat and video clips, it features Keir McAllister and Mark Nelson alongside myself and host Stu Murphy, whose spontaneous wit and ability to think on his feet is worth the ticket price alone.

PUPPET FICTION
Laughing Horse @ The News Room, Leith Street  12 noon daily (except Mondays)

I make no apologies for continually recommending this hilarious hour of comedy. Back for a second successive year, these puppeteers-cum-improvisers from New Zealand are presenting one of the most unique events at the Fringe, telling the story of the classic movie Pulp Fiction through the medium of puppetry.  Their pupating skills alone can often draw uproarious laughter and their spontaneous wit and love of the absurd make this a must-see show.

THE CLAN McMOR
Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters, Colgate  2.30  daily
Northern Irish stand-up Martin Mor started out as a street performer and his juggling and circus skills are ideally suited to children’s entertainment.  He is joined in this hour-long afternoon show by Scottish comedian John Scott, in a show which will definitely amuse right across the age range.

KEV’S KOMEDY KITCHEN

Just The Tonic @ The Mash House, Guthrie Street   3.40  Daily except 8th, 9th

Manchester-based comedians Will Hutchby, Kevin Dewsbury and Mike Newell get together for an hour of complete silliness, which has involved building a complete kitchen since they arrived in town on Monday.  Sounds like a lot of fun.

THE FANTASTICAL RETURN OF GREYFRIARS BOBBY
Stand in the Square, St Andrew Square Gardens.   12.20  Until Sunday 14th August
This is a delightful children’s show which is also a handy tour guide to Edinburgh, taking us on a comedy romp from the airport to Greyfriars Kirk and Arthur’s Seat via the Zoo.  Either watch it with your kids, or you can leave them alone to watch it alone while you spend a relaxing hour in the Edinburgh Gin Tent next door.

Vladimir McTavish is appearing in his solo show “Scotland in Sixty Minutes” at Stand 5, York Place at 7.30 nightly except Monday 15th August

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