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02nd Jul 2019

Fringe 2019: Our expert comedy panel pick their 32 must-see Edinburgh shows

Our expert comedy panel, made up of some of the funniest people in the country, pick their 32 must-see shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

Nooruddean Choudry

It’s not long now.

The Edinburgh Fringe is just around the corner and that means two things: performers everywhere are having nervous breakdowns trying to get their shows ready in time, and we’re awash with previews telling us who and what to go and see.

But let’s face it – who is some jumped-up failed comedian of a journalist to tell you anything about the many hundreds of shows on offer? Far better, we thought, to ask the experts – actual brilliant stand-ups who’ve walked the walk and are therefore best qualified to talk the talk.

So we assembled a collection of the funniest people in the country to run the rule and recommend their favourite acts; brilliant comics whose only motivation was recommending the finest and funniest of the peers.

A huge thanks to Nish Kumar, Josie Long, Stuart Goldsmith, Mo Gilligan, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Tez Ilyas, Justin Moorhouse, Brett Goldstein, Rachel Fairburn and Brennan Reece for their time and expertise in putting this sensational list together. Here goes…

Maisie Adam: Hang Fire

Where: Gilded Balloon Teviot – Billiard Room

When: 17:00

What they say: 

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: “The story behind this show is incredible and when you add on top the fact it’s Maisie telling it, oh boy. She’s ridiculously prodigious and if she wasn’t so likeable I’d hate her for being so talented.”

Eshaan Akbar: Infidel-ity

Where: Gilded Balloon Teviot – Billiard Room

When: 15:45

What they say: 

Tez Ilyas: “E-funnybags himself. One of the most joyous and popular voices on the circuit. Eshaan has a knack of dissecting complicated issues into easy-to-get very funny routines. I always look forward to watching Eshaan even though he thinks I hate him because he’s an infidel. That’s not true, I hate him for perfectly good other reasons.”

Sara Barron: Enemies Closer

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Upstairs

When: 20:30

What they say: 

Rachel Fairburn: “A brilliant stand up with some of the most brutally funny routines I’ve seen.”

Nish Kumar: “One of my favourite acts around right now, following up an exciting debut. I’d put money on it being even better.”

Fern Brady: Power and Chaos

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 1

When: 18:00

What they say: 

Rachel Fairburn: “Just proper funny stand up.”

Desiree Burch: Desiree’s Coming Early!

Where: Heroes @ The Hive – The Big Cave

When: 19:40

What they say: 

Nish Kumar: “Mix a theatre background with gag-driven New York club comedy, and you get Burch. Her shows are joke dense, but also beautifully-paced storytelling.”

Alun Cochrane: Brave New Alun

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Cabaret Bar

When: 21:20

What they say: 

Justin Moorhouse: “Always funny. I’ve been privy to a lot of his warm up. His process of ‘writing on stage’ is tough but rewarding.”

Kelly Convey: Telephone Voice

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker One

When: 19:15

What they say: 

Mo Gilligan: “Kelly Convey has a really big in the future and her Edinburgh show sounds great. I’ve had her perform at some of my comedy gigs and she’s really good.”

Carl Donnelly: Shall We All Just Kill Ourselves?

Where: Heroes @ The SpiegelYurt

When: 19:40

What they say: 

Rachel Fairburn: “Love the title and Carl is a brilliant comedian so this should be a belter.”

Sophie Duker: Venus

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Below

When: 19:00

What they say: 

Josie Long: “I am so so excited to see her do an hour, I first saw her a couple of years ago and she is so smart, sophisticated and accomplished already, and she’s not even done an hour yet! So exciting!”

Brett Goldstein: “My shout out for newcomer is Sophie Duker. I’ve done some gigs with her, and her stuff is original and interesting and funny, and I reckon her first hour will be pretty special. So get in on the ground floor.”

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: “She’s been writing jokes for all the funniest people on TV and radio for years, so she’s as match-fit as a comedian can be. Also, great title.”

Harriet Dyer: The Dinosaur Show

Where: Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose – Dram

When: 20:15

What they say: 

Brennan Reece: “You will have never seen anything like this before! It’s wonderfully off the wall, like staring into the sun during an eclipse without sunglasses on. It’s amazing!”

Rachel Fairburn: The People’s Princess

Where: Underbelly, Bristo Square – Dexter

When: 21:35

What they say: 

Justin Moorhouse: “Rachel is smart and funny. My favourite funny person to come from North Manchester since Mike Harding. A caveat – she’s not like Mike Harding except for being from North Manchester and being funny. No moustache.”

George Fouracres: Gentlemon

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker One

When: 15:30

What they say: 

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: “George is one of the best comic performers I know and a right little weirdo to boot. I can’t wait to see what he does on stage when he doesn’t have the two more sensible members of Daphne to rein him in.”

Jessica Fostekew: Hench

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 4

When: 13:30

What they say: 

Rachel Fairburn: “Super funny, super talented and a superb writer.”

Stuart Goldsmith: “Big deep funny stuff delivered with devil-may-care twinkle.”

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: “Sometimes you can see a comedian levelling up and really coming into their own, and I think that’s what this show is for Jess. I think it’s going to make people realise just how good she is. Also, the poster is probably the best at the whole festival.”

Wil Greenway: The Ocean After All

Where: Underbelly, Bristo Square – Dexter

When: 16:10

What they say: 

Brennan Reece: “Wil Greenway is always first on my list every year. Beautiful, gentle storytelling. It will make you leave thinking the world is perfect!”

Rosie Jones: Backward

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Baby Grand

When: 19:00

What they say: 

Nish Kumar: “She is a dreadful person but an extraordinary comedian.”

Spencer Jones: The Things We Leave Behind

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Beneath

When: 19:45

What they say: 

Stuart Goldsmith: “I’ve never seen someone get so many laughs just by walking onstage and looking at the audience.”

Michael Legge: The Idiot

Where: The Stand Comedy Club – Stand 1

When: 12:00

What they say: 

Justin Moorhouse: “Michael is the funniest, angriest person I know. A polemic treat for lunchtime in arguably the best room for comedy on the fringe.”

Josie Long: Tender

Where: The Stand Comedy Club – Stand 1

When: 20:20

What they say: 

Nish Kumar: “A returning hero, this is her first fringe in five years and I can’t wait to see it. An inspiration to all comics.”

Kate Lucas: Is Selling Herself

Where: Just the Tonic at The Tron

When: 18:20

What they say: 

Tez Ilyas: “An absolute hidden gem on the comedy circuit. Original songs that are as brutal as they are hilarious. This is her second solo show after her brilliant debut a couple of years ago. You’ll be humming her dark tunes in the office for the rest of your life. Sorry.”

Paul McCaffrey: Lemon

Where: Underbelly, Cowgate – Belly Laugh

When: 19:40

What they say: 

Rachel Fairburn: “He’s just utterly hilarious and in my opinion the best comedian about at the moment.”

Luke McQueen: Bad

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 5

When: 17:55

What they say: 

Brett Goldstein: “Luke McQueen is always amazing and scary and original and you must go and be scared.”


Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker Two

When: 17:30

What they say: 

Mo Gilligan: “Michael Odewale’s show is definitely one to watch out for. He won best show at Leicester Comedy Festival this year.”

Tez Ilyas: “One of the brightest rising stars on the comedy circuit. Michael’s debut show will deliver on what he does best – hilarious relatable material that you’ll be quoting to your mates weeks after.”

Jonny Pelham: Off Limits

Where: Just the Tonic at The Caves – Just Out of the Box

When: 15:20

What they say: 

Stuart Goldsmith: “Revelatory subject matter delivered in an extraordinarily matter of fact way; he’s going to be a breakthrough success this year.”

Josh Pugh: Maybe the Real Comedy Awards are the Friends We Made Along the Way

Where: Just the Tonic at The Caves – Just Up the Stairs

When: 18:25

What they say: 

Rachel Fairburn: “Josh is one of the funniest people I know, and absolutely makes me howl with laughter.”

Brennan Reece: “If you like curly-haired quirky observations, Josh is at the top of the list. He has the mind of James Acaster and the abs of Jesus.”

Adam Rowe: Pinnacle

Where: Just the Tonic at The Caves – Just the Big Room

When: 19:30

What they say: 

Tez Ilyas: “I’m not just picking Adam because he’s starring in my Channel 4 show…well yes, but also because he’s friggin’ hilarious. Do you like jokes? Adam has so many it makes me jealous! You’ll love his no-nonsense approach to everything. You’re welcome.”

Lou Sanders: Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 3

When: 15:15

What they say: 

Brett Goldstein: “In terms of live comedy being actually live, she’s the best. So fucking funny and different every night. I love her.”

Ahir Shah: Dots

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 3

When: 13:45

What they say: 

Stuart Goldsmith: “You can feel yourself getting cleverer as you’re laughing.”


Where: Pleasance Courtyard – The Attic

When: 22:45

What they say:

Brennan Reece: “The love child of sketch groups Geins Family Giftshop and Goose. Proper dark, proper physical, proper funny!”

Tom Taylor: Is the Indie Feel-Good Hit of the Summer

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – The Cellar

When: 18:00

What they say:

Justin Moorhouse: “Can’t not laugh at him. Funny funny. Unique.”

It would remiss not include those of our panel who have shows at Edinburgh themselves. Mainly because the only reason they were asked to suggest other people is because they’re so fucking brilliant…

Stuart Goldsmith: Primer (WIP)

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 4

When: 15:00

Nish Kumar: It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves

Where: Assembly George Square – Gordon Aikman Theatre

When: 21:00 (Aug 19-25)

Kiri Pritchard-Mclean: Work in Progress

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 1

When: 13:40 (Jul 31-Aug 13)