Edinburgh Festival 2019: 30 of the best rated comedy acts returning to the Fringe this year

These 30 comedy acts received four- and five-star reviews from The Scotsman critics in 2018 and they're returning to the Fringe in 2019.

Jessie Cave (Picture: Contributed)
Jessie Cave (Picture: Contributed)

While some of them will perform the same shows, others have something new to offer this year. Either way, these acts are bound to book up quickly so make sure to get your tickets in advance.

We’ve included each act's Scotsman review from last year alongside the synopsis of their 2019 show.

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Grant Busé: Touché BuséVenue 24, Gilded Balloon Patter HooseJul 31 Aug 1-6, 8-13, 15-26, 22.00Tickets: £10

Picture: Grant Buse (Picture: Jacinta Oaten)
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When you're duelling with life – it's the blows that make shows! Australian comic and ex-Neighbours star Grant Busé is set to satirically serenade Edinburgh with his 'ingenious comedy music.

Last year's Scotsman review: “There’s no audience shaming, Busé has a real warmth and there’s genuine learning going on, on both sides of the stage… Educational, informative and entertaining.”*****

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Zoe Lyons: Entry Level HumanVenue 14: Gilded Balloon Aug 7-21, 21.00Tickets: £14Zoe returns to the fringe with her sell-out show, which covers everything from Brexit to hotel rooms and having to deal with intruder flies in the house. Her narrative delivers her every day observations in a fresh, sincere way, leaving you smiling long after the show is finished.

Last year's Scotsman review: “If you think she is hilarious behind a panel- show desk, just wait till she gets on a live stage. Entry Level Human is a supremely classy piece of comedy writing and Zoe, unplugged, as it were, has a charm and a command of a room that you do not get to appreciate on a screen.” ****

Zoe Lyons (Picture: Mike Vessey)

Kieran Hodgson: '75Venue 33, Pleasance CourtyardAug 17, 21, 25, 18.30Tickets: £15

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In June 1975 the United Kingdom voted to remain in the European Community. Since then, things have changed somewhat, and character comedian Kieran Hodgson wants to find out why.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Like a fever dream, this is rich, thoughtful but belly-laugh stuff from an act whose showy virtuosity as both a character and confessional comic is backed by some outstanding writing.” ****

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Adam Riches: The Beakington Town Hall MurdersVenue 33, Pleasance CourtyardJul 31 Aug 1-26, 19.50Tickets: £14Last night, 10 tortoises were massacred in a tombola-related prank gone wrong. So tonight, all members of the Beakington Council... AKA you... will be hauled before an independent adjudicator... AKA me... to find out what happened.

Kieran Hodgson (Picture: Gaby Jerrard)

Last year's Scotsman review: “His characters are all luxuriant in vocal tone and chestal hair, they swoop and stride, they are bold and they are dangerous. And ridiculously funny.” ****

Myra DuBois: Dead FunnyJul 31 Aug 1-11, 13-25, 15.55Tickets: £11

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In this show, Myra lives out her funeral, realising it’s the time in her life when she’ll get the most attention and she wants it to go well. An irreverent look at death, dying and grief, this show promises to be witty and utterly hilarious.

Last year's Scotsman review: “If you’re partial to an acid-tongued drag queen from Rotherham with funny bones, a fine line in withering put-downs and a relaxed attitude towards scripted material then you’re in luck” ****

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Myra DuBois (Picture: Holly Revell)

Jessie Cave: SunriseVenue 17, Assembly George Square StudiosAug 14-25, 18.30Tickets: £14

Dating again after a complex break-up, Jessie is trying to get her personal life in order – before her kids wake up. Cave brings her critically acclaimed blend of confessional comedy and DIY performance art back to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe after a sold out run in 2018.

Last year's Scotsman review: “This is an exquisite show from one of the more creative minds in comedy today.... It is painfully funny, hilariously sad and makes oversharing a thing of comic genius. There is no corner of Jessie’s life into which her blindingly honest comic light does not shine.” *****

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Alfie Brown: ImaginationVenue 515: Monkey Barrel ComedyAug 1-25, 22.30Tickets: £6

This is a brand-new hour from Alfie Brown about family, friendship and inherited belief... Like him, the new hour will be loving, dangerous, inquisitive and disgusting.

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Last year's Scotsman review: “This hour is a breathtaking, mindshaking, thought-provoking, eye­watering blast...It is tricky to write 350 sensible words when you come out a show simply thinking “Wow! F**k! Wow!” but I have done my best.” *****

Luca Cupani: Lives I Never LivedVenue 288, Just the Tonic at the Mash HouseAug 1-11, 13-25, 15.55Tickets: £5Which life would you choose if you had a second chance? Luca managed to narrow the possible answers down to a few options and in this brand-new show he is ready to describe the lives he never lived.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Although others see self-deprecation as self-harming in comedy, Cupani’s delicate, gentle way with it is more delicious tickle than torment and we giggle along through his attempts at memorising porn, his guilt about premarital sex, his time in a job centre, his hypochondria and his struggles with his family.”****

Garrett Millerick: SmileVenue 51: Just the Tonic at the TronAug 1-11, 13-25, 17.00Tickets: £7

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The critically acclaimed, Breakthrough Act 2019 Award nominee returns with a defiant battle cry against the gloom – Smile.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Alternating between Eeyorish gloom, sardonic mirth and barely checked fury, Millerick’s misanthropy is conveyed through expressive gesture and a delivery that can drop nefariously low or boom with incredulity when required” ****

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Hal Cruttenden: ChubsterVenue 14: Gilded Balloon Teviot - Debating HallJul 31 Aug 2-14, 19.30Tickets:£13

Last year’s smash hit show is back by popular demand. Hal has literally filled our screens on such shows as Have I Got News For You, Live At The Apollo, The Apprentice: You’re Fired and Bake Off: Extra Slice. His daughters chose the title of the show and he’s still on a diet… Limited run.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Chubster is a great, cuddly, adorable, funbundle of a show. Cruttenden seems perennially, genuinely delighted to be on stage and words tumble out of him in great colourful, enthusiastic explosions.” ****

Lucy Frederick: FamtasticVenue 302: Underbelly, Bristo SquareJul 31 Aug 1-13, 15-25, 14.50Tickets: £10

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From disaster queen to model stepmum – this is a stand-up show about Lucy's journey towards becoming part of a modern blended family, avoiding its wicked pitfalls and navigating the alarming world of parenting.

Last year's Scotsman review: “The show pulls on you… There is a palpable tension in the room, which is a powerful thing in comedy. And the tension is not released in any predictable way.” ****

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Stuart Mitchell – Is It Just Me? (Work in Progress)Venue 178: Scottish Comedy Festival @The Beehive Inn - Beehive 1Aug 1-12, 14-16, 18-24, 19.55Tickets: FreeJoin the longest running panellist on BBC Scotland's Breaking the News as he runs through new material for his next tour.

Last year's Scotsman review: “A show that, in marrying sharp observation to disarming honesty, may set you to rethinking your life”****

Nina Conti: Work in Progress Venue 33: Pleasance CourtyardJul 31 Aug 1-11, 13-18, 21.30Tickets: £12British Comedy Award winner and ventriloquist Nina Conti is boldly experimenting and discovering fresh ideas as she develops her next new show.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Conti is a woman of, it seems, limitless imagination… Once Conti emerges, the fun and the funny continue as she turns audience members into puppets with her ingenious talking masks.” ****

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Alex Cofield: SupernovaVenue 24: Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose - DramJul 31 Aug 1-12, 14-26, 17.45Tickets: £10

Faced with the grim reality of life in the genteel English countryside, Alex's dreams of youthful urban living seem light years away and when a nefarious village plot is revealed, there may be no chance of escape. A funk-fuelled hip-hopera rap musical from Melbourne Fringe Best Comedy Award nominee.

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Last year's Scotsman review: “Supernova isn’t some middle-class white Brit essaying a watered-down version of the American masters. It’s a massively talented performer taking the familiar forms of the genre and spinning out a peculiarly bonkers British tale of the individual vs an oppressive system.” ****

The Comedy ReserveVenue 23: The Pleasance DomeJul 31 Aug 1-11, 13-18, 20-26, 21.30Tickets: £10

The Pleasance Comedy Reserve is back for its 15th year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with another four brilliant new acts. This year's exciting newcomers are Josh Jones, Lily Phillips, Mamoun Elagab and Mo Omar.

Last year's Scotsman review: “It seems like the future of comedy is safe. Certainly if the four young comics sharing the hour here are anything to go by. I was not expecting this level of assurance, inventiveness, variety or even laughs from what is, in effect, a showcase for comedy toddlers.” ****

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Jo Caulfield: Voodoo DollVenue 12: The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4 - Stand 3Aug 2-11, 13-18, 20-25, 19.40Tickets: £10

Award-winning comedian. Razor-sharp. Sarcastic. Hilarious. Unmissable. Featured on Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, The John Bishop Show, Just a Minute and Stop the Press.

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Last year's Scotsman review: “Caulfield is whip-smart, her stories as insightful as they are hilarious, her wicked barbs towards others balanced by a tendency to be as honest about her own failings.” ****

Alistair Williams: How to Lose Weight and Be Less RacistVenue 88: Just the Tonic at The Caves - Just Up the StairsAug 3-11, 13-25, 19.45Tickets: £10

If the title of this show doesn't let you know that Alistair Williams (as seen on Comedy Central) is a real stand up comedian, I don't know what will. Come and see this show live, because real stand up comedy ain't dead.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Williams tends to trust his instincts and the evidence of his own eyes. And he’s persuasive, a skilled orator with a strong line in incredulity at excessive political correctness, knee-jerk offence-takers and lax zookeeping.” ****

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Paul Foxcroft: DebutVenue 442: Laughing Horse @ 32 Below - Main RoomAug 1-12, 14-25, 12.25Tickets: Free

A new hour that combines stand-up, sketch, character comedy and almost certainly improvisation. Paul's trying to get a perspective on what people mean when they say things, trying to understand the beliefs of people he disagrees with and also he's writing this show.

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Last year's Scotsman review: “Paul Foxcroft has all the confidence you would expect from a man who has improvised with the best for most of his career. But this is tightly scripted stuff… ridiculous amounts of fun.” ****

Sarah Keyworth: PacificVenue 33: Pleasance Courtyard - Baby GrandJul 31 Aug 1-12, 14-25, 17.45Tickets: £11

A brand-new hour of comedy about the little things, the smallest details, the fixed and distinct aspects that make up what we definitively are, how we expressly think and who we unambiguously love.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Since wrestling with her sexuality and appearance, Keyworth has emerged as a poised, openly lesbian comic. And her wry, self-mocking grace draws affecting humour from an often tough backstory, one that still encounters prejudice today.” ****

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Joey Page – Afterlife (An Idiot Considers a Series of Distractions Before Death)Venue 296: Just the Tonic at Marlin’s Wynd - Just the Wyndy RoomAug 1-11, 13-14, 16-25, 18.45Tickets: £7

Joey Page – award-nominated star of Nevermind the Buzzcocks – 31, is having a midlife crisis. Come and see him panic hilariously about John Lewis, Jesus, the ancient Egyptians, hipsters and his neighbour downstairs.

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Last year's Scotsman review: “This is a solid hour of daft entertainment. Not all of it gets big laughs... but there is never less than a ripple of giggly enjoyment in the room and that is exactly the experience to have of a Fringe afternoon.” ****

Rosie Jones: BackwardVenue 33: Pleasance Courtyard - Baby GrandJul 31 Aug 1-11, 13-25, 19.00Tickets: £10

After a sell-out debut hour Rosie "triple threat" Jones returns to the Fringe with a big question: am I backwards, or are they? She explores the hilarious difficulties of navigating the world whilst being the only disabled, gay, northern comedian with quite the penchant for sexual aggression. .

Last year's Scotsman review: “Mining her disability for every waggish advantage she can get, Jones’ persona is like a spoilt, indulged child, teasing the ausiences’s sensitivities, daring them to call her “spastic” yet always emerging triumphant… charmingly infectious.” ****

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Twonkey’s Ten Year TwitchVenue 88: Just the Tonic at The Caves - Just the Wee OneAug 1-11, 13-25, 16.10Tickets: £5Twonkey’s 10th show is about grotesque cake decorating shop in the Dordogne that has been secretly making fake weather since 1982. Mr Twonkey says, 'Last week I knocked on the door licking my lips in anticipation. The shopkeeper opened the door, a tiny woman who was all baggy eyes with a hard miserable face and fast little legs. I had made a horrible mistake?'

Last year's Scotsman review: “A musical feast accompanied by a running dramatic buffet that has an actual narrative thread and everything.” ****

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Matt Price: Broken Hooters and Geezers with ShootersVenue 302: Underbelly at Bristo Square - CloverJul 31 Aug 1-11, 13-25, 18.50Tickets: £12

Matt Price was asked to work on a writing project with a former criminal. From day one, he was out of his depth..

Last year's Scotsman review: “Price packs in a huge amount of laughter and not a few beautifully crafted gags… a terrific comic” ****

Mark Dean Quinn Knits: A Comedy ShowVenue 313: Heroes @ The Hive Aug 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25, 22.00Tickets: £5A show about knitting.Two people will fall in love. Hopefully we can all become better people.

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Last year's Scotsman review: “Although the show moves gently - at times imperceptibly - it is deeply visceral. It makes you question yourself, even ashamed of yourself at times. It speaks so quietly and yet the stick it carries is the scariest on the Fringe. This is an ultimate experience. Go, embrace it, just be careful how you choose.” ****

Garry Starr Conquers Troy Venue 61: Underbelly Cowgate - Belly Button Aug 1-11, 13-18, 20-25, 20.00Tickets: £12.50

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Acting was invented by the ancient Greeks. Before that, people were just pretending. With the release of his groundbreaking new book An Actor Pretends, Starr delves deep into his Greek ancestry to enlighten us all with the ancient art of Pretendism.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Ballet, musical, slapstick, butoh, circus and drawing room comedy are just some of the genres brought vividly to ridicule, with every set-piece taking the show in a surprising direction and Starr’s performance growing ever more extreme.”****

Ahir Shah: DotsVenue 515: Monkey Barrel Comedy - Monkey Barrel 3Aug 1-25, 13.45Tickets: £8

Shah's most recent show, Duffer, was performed to packed houses and critical acclaim at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, followed by a sold-out run in London's West End, and a UK and international tour. Now he's written another one. Fingers crossed, eh?

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Last year's Scotsman review: “Ahir Shah has established an exceptionally high baseline of relevant, intellectually rigorous, persuasively argued stand-up… a pithy, quotable writer, succinctly summing up the spectrum that brown people exist on for most Brits.” ****

Ciarán Dowd: Padre RodolfoVenue 33: Pleasance Courtyard - Upstairs Jul 31 Aug 1-13, 15-25, 21.45Tickets: £12

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World-famous lothario, swordsman and butthead Rodolfo is back! Following an unspeakable tragedy he turns his back on his lifestyle – rejects the sword, takes a vow of chastity and joins the priesthood. But as dark forces rise he must face personal demons and battle actual demons.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Drawing the crowd into his epic yarn with directness and a rascally invasion of body space.... tremendously entertaining” ****

Lauren PattisonVenue 515: Monkey Barrel Comedy - Monkey Barrel 1Aug 14, 16.30Tickets: £8

Lauren Pattison returns to Edinburgh for a one-off performance of her 2018 show, Peachy. Come see her deliver some new home truths with her wicked, warm and authentic brand of humour.

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Last year's Scotsman review: “Vulnerable but game, you’re constantly willing Pattison to succeed. Increasingly belying her little-girl-lost appearance, she reiterates her strength of character, underpinned by a clear-sighted intelligence and growing assurance in her storytelling abilities.” ****

Laura Davis: Better Dead Than a CowardVenue 212: Heroes @Bob Blundabus - Top DeckAug 1-25, 21.10Tickets: £5

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Dark, bold and razor sharp, Australian comedian Laura Davis is internationally critically acclaimed as one of the most unique comedic voices around. Unconventional, cathartic and exhilaratingly hilarious, this is her brand new hour.

Last year's Scotsman review: “Playing a sophisticated game of establishing and breaking tension, she never forgets to puncture the anxiety that begins to envelop the room with a well-placed and crafted punchline, her nihilism not inhibiting her joke-writing talent.” ****

Chris Mcglade: ForgivenessVenue 85: Laughing Horse at City Cafe - Las VegasAug 1-25, 21.15Tickets: Free

Following the murder of his father, hard hitting and critically acclaimed northern comedian Chris McGlade is attempting to lay to rest the ghosts that have haunted him ever since. This show, whilst telling the story of his dad's horrific murder, is also a funny, sincere, un- PC, no holds barred and touching homage to the man who shaped his life and humour.

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Last year's Scotsman review: “McGlade makes no apologies for who he is: a disenfranchised, cocaine and sex-appreciating, sometime football hooligan grandfather from Middlesbrough, relating his experiences with a consistently funny, matter-of-fact honesty that dares you to judge him back.” ****