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Best of the Fest

Pick of the top comedy for final weekend

Vlad 2016 portraitIt is the final weekend of the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. With it also being August Bank Holiday in England the city will be flooded with visitors from south of the Border, as well as day-trippers from elsewhere in Scotland.

As many shows will be sold out, it is always wise to book in advance. 

Also, be prepared for your first choice of show to be a sell-out, and have a second-choice for the same time slot.  Hopefully, this final guide to this year’s Fringe highlights will help you make a more informed choice.

These half-dozen shows are my personal picks from the myriad of comedy shows in the 2016 programme.  Each of them is an absolutely top-class hour of comedy.  See all of them if you have the chance.

MAUREEN LANGAN: DAUGHTER OF A GARBAGE MAN
The Stand Comedy Club (Stand 5), York Place  10.15pm  Until Sunday 28th

As a student, my first job was working for Glasgow City Council Cleansing Department, emptying dustbins in Partick, so I was immediately lured by the title of this show.  Maureen Langan is a superb stand-up comedian, who also has her own radio show in the USA.  In this very personal show, she uses her own childhood experience to mirror the trash celebrity culture of today.  This is thoughtful and insightful late-night entertainment.  Without doubt, it is the most emotionally moving show I have seen this Fringe. Langan’s comedic skills enable her to counterpoint the show’s more sombre introspective moments with peaks of genuine laugh-out-loud hilarity.

GAVIN WEBSTER:  JESUS CHRIST’S A WINDOW-CLEANER NOW
Stand 2, North St Andrew Street.   7.10pm  Until Sunday 28th

This show is sixty minutes of sheer joy. Gavin Webster is one of my favourite comics, and among the funniest people on the planet.  The show title should act as a clue to the type of gleefully surreal buffoonery in which Webster excels.

PUPPET FICTION
Laughing Horse @ The News Room, Leith Street  12 noon until Sunday 28th

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.

MARK NELSON:  SMILEY FACE
Gilded Balloon, Teviot Square  8.45 pm  Until Sunday 28th

Mark Nelson won the award for Best Headliner for the second year running at this year’s Scottish Comedy awards, and the accolade was richly merited.  Nelson is quite simply one of the finest live stand-ups currently performing in the UK.  His gleefully edgy wit is a joy to watch.

SCOTT GIBSON: LIFE AFTER DEATH
Gilded Balloon, Teviot Square  2.45   Until Monday 29th

Paisley-born Scott Gibson is one of the rising stars of the Scottish comedy scene.  Affable and abrasive in equal measure, he is a wonderfully gifted comedian and storyteller.  He has just been nominated for Best Newcomer at this year’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards for this deeply personal yet hilarious one-man show.

LIAM WITHNAIL: TRUE DEFECTIVE
Scottish Comedy Festival @ The Beehive, Grassmarket  5.25 pm  Until Sunday 28th

In June 2015, the Edinburgh-based Essex boy Liam Withnail took the brave decision to give up alcohol for good.  Indeed, we were gigging together in Aberdeen on the last weekend he had a drink. I would have thought two days in my company in the Granite City would drive one to drink rather than to renounce it.  This year, Liam has taken the arguably braver decision to perform a show, about his year of society. This is an astounding funny, and never once self-righteous account of Withnail’s personal journey.

Vladimir McTavish is appearing in his solo show “Scotland in Sixty Minutes” at Stand 5, York Place at 7.30 pm.

He is also taking part in the satirical panel show “Topical Storm” at Stand 6, 5.20 pm.  Both shows run until Sunday 28th August.

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