Edinburgh Fringe 2019: 5 Great comedy shows from this year's festival

The Edinburgh Fringe is rightly celebrated for the eclecticism of it offerings: it brings together songwriters and sword-swallowers, axe jugglers and acrobats, slam poets and performers who do things that their isn't even an accepted verb for yet.

Hardware chef, George Egg. Picture Matt Lincoln

But, above all else, the Fringe has always been associated with comedy. From half-empty basement bars to packed-out theatres, the venues of the fringe have played host to the biggest names in comedy for decades. Legends have made their name there with iconic performances and made their bones by bombing into infamy. All through the festival, as-yet unknown comics are honing their material, sharpening their skills, and broadening their repertoire of Fringe anecdotes about sleep deprivation and scrimping by – the stories that will act as their credentials when they finally make it big.

In continuation of this tradition, here are five great comedy shows from the festival so far, as reviewed by The Scotsman's festival critics.

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George Egg: Movable Feast, Assembly George Square, Until 25 August

Hardware chef, George Egg. Picture Matt Lincoln

No other comedian at this year's fringe will teach you how to prepare marinated chicken strips using a car engine. It's actually unclear whether anyone else, anywhere, could teach you that – but it's almost certainly true that no-one but George Eggs could be so effortlessly entertaining about it.

Compared to “a culinary Bill Bailey”, Eggs takes the same delight in crafting all manner of bizarre creations before his live audience .Though he builds his out of meat and veg rather than keyboards and theremins, like Bailey, the warmth he conveys throughout and the wild imagination with which he devises each new bit elevates a cute gimmick into a fully-rounded, brilliantly-realised show.

Josie Long: Tender, The Stand Comedy Club, Until 25 August

Josie Long is a whole new person, and very much the same. Picture: Giles Smith

Josie Long has been performing at the fringe for over a decade now, and it's no surprise that she keeps managing to fill up comedy clubs, year after year. She's an eminently likely presence, radiating a sort of goofy optimism cut with a fiercely erudite and impassioned political side that rails against inequality in all of its forms.

Returning this year with her new show, Tender, things have changed for Long. Or, one thing has certainly changed – there is a whole new, shiny little soft person in her life. With a child to anchor her perspective, she continues to swing between starry-eyed wonder at the world and existential panic at the oncoming eco-pocalypse, but the swing is now charged with an even greater impetus and urgency in both directions.

A fascinating new chapter in the life and career of a long-time festival favourite.

Sophie Duker is a bold comic voice. Picture: Contributed

Catherine Cohen: The Twist...? She's Gorgeous, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August

Catherine Cohen has chosen superstardom as a lifestyle and invites the audience to bask in her Instagram-ready excellence while she belts out a series of rousing cabaret numbers in honour of herself. Watching someone write their own self-mythology in real time is an intoxicating experience, especially when that someone is as musically and comedically gifted as Catherine Cohen, and she toys with the audience with salacious glee throughout the performance.

Each song, though superficially an anthem of self-assurance, slowly reveals a deep well of insecurity lying beneath the bravado, and its the interplay between these two sides of her persona that makes the show so special.

Sophie Duker: Venus, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August

A hard-hitting stand-up show which explores the commodification of black femininity and the double-edged oppression faced by women of colour, Duker's stand-up acts as a biting retort to the numerous voices decrying the effect of “wokeness” upon comedy, all the while cleverly exposing the hypocrisy of the performatively liberal. Far from any kind of uncertain both-sidesism, Duker knows exactly who her targets are, regardless of which labels they might be found under. Her show is in no-way sanitised, in no way lacking the anarchic, even violent energy essential to effective stand-up, but it is delivered with a marksman's precision rather than a wild machine-gun spray.

For anyone who fears that social media or "political correctness" have somehow de-fanged comedy, look now further than Duker's wicked show.

Daliso Chaponda: Blah Blah Blacklist, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Until 25 August

Daliso is unsure. He is unsure about cancel culture and fashionability of de-platforming. He is unsure about throwing great artworks out with their awful creators, or how to process the fact that many of the things that mean the most to him now lie in the shadows of terrible men. He is unsure what should happen when something beloved becomes problematic, unsure about the people defending them and about the book-burning glee some seem to take in trying to erase them.

This uncertainty, and the honesty with which he is willing to expose it, makes for an insightful and empathetic comedy show, one filled with laughs if not with many concrete answers.