Edinburgh Fringe 2019: The Scotsman critics' best comedy shows to see this year
To walk through Edinburgh during the Fringe is to be assaulted on all sides by voracious comedians, each with that hungry glint in their eyes and an armful of flyers they are determined to paper your pockets with. Each one evangelises frantically about the unique benefits of their routine, the vital thing that makes them an island of comedic salvation in amongst a sea of pretenders.
This one offers comedy with a twist. This one does things with comedy you have never seen before. This one pushes the bounds of good taste, test the limits of stand-up as a form, pushes against borders of comedy itself! This one is almost entirely improvised! (You will not go and see this one)
Never fear. Below is a comprehensive list of the best comedy shows at this year's Fringe so that your time and money really is all but guaranteed to pay dividends in belly laughs, groans and fits of giggles.
Five Stars * * * * *
Cave Women, Marlin's Wynd, Until 25 August
"Jessie Cave has already shown that she has an unerring sense of where to place her comedy to have you in love, in tears and in fits of giggles all in the same moment. No one in the world does it like this.
Except maybe her sister Bebe."
Phil Ellis: Au Revoir, Heroes@The Hive, Until 25 August
"Phil Ellis was responsible for one of the legends of the Fringe when he created Funz and Gamez – a ramshackle filthy children’s show starring grown up comics. He’s also a ‘name’ – who has been on some famous TV comedians’ shows as a guest and has lots of interest from industry types. So it’s odd to see him down on his luck, in the smelliest venue on the Fringe, with buckets literally collecting water running through the roof.
Ellis is the first to admit everything has gone tits up. He’s decided to quit comedy and this will be his last ever show.
As he reveals one terrible dark secret after another you will find yourself helpless with horrified irreverent laughter."
Crystal Rasmussen presents The Bible 2 Live! Underbelly - Cowgate?, Until 25 August
"This is the most affirmative, queer-positive show you will see and it does it with club anthems, a light-up storybook and a fabulous queen with a heart as huge and beautiful as her voice. There is flesh here – unrepentant, voluptuous – instead of feathers, for most of the show, for Crystal is her own, special queen. If you are going to bring Edinburgh a “this is me” show then this is how to do it. "
The Man, Underbelly - Bristo Square, Until 26 August
"This is beautifully written material, in a brilliantly crafted show, given a pitch-perfect, bravura performance by an extraordinarily talented young man.
There is not a speck of fat on any part of the hour – not on the lip-synch extravaganzas, the hilarious game of Dickhead Bingo, the introduction to the six ‘friends’ every man will need, the radio phone-in, or even the spoken word. The show is sculpted like the abs on a comedy Zac Efron."
Four Stars * * * *
Adam Riches: The Beakington Town Hall Murders, Until 26 August
"Irrelevant exhibits are passed round, witnesses are questioned on an entirely random basis, the pitiful crime scene is recreated, the unwieldy but generally pliable pool of suspects is whittled down using profiling (“the thinking man’s bigotry”) until Riches/Legit subjects the final two suspects to an extremely silly final line-up in the style of a Shooting Starstiebreaker."
Cülture Elité, The Stand, Until 25 August
"Norway is – as Lars Berrum and Marten Beyer-Olsen repeatedly tell us – the richest country in the world, so they do not need to be funny too. But these guys are.
So near the knuckle they had to hand out elastoplast....the big message with which you leave the show is as chilling a thought as I have ever had implanted at a comedy show. Stand 2 only holds fifty people, and you really should be one of them."
Josh Glanc, Monkey Barrel, Unti 25 August
"This is an extraordinary show by an extraordinary talent. It twists and turns and draws you in and before you have time to join in any of the old favourites Josh belts out or give it a bit of Macarena, you are heart deep in some unbelieveable and incredibly personal stories about Josh and his mum, who looms large over the show, metaphorically and, through the medium of papier mache, literally.
There are surprises and revelations around ever corner in this show and Joshua's judicious editing of pretty much all the songs is most welcome... 'performing' Josh keeps things glitzy but ooooooo, the dark underbelly of this show is gorgeous."
Nath Valvo: I’m Happy For You, Assembly George Square Studios?, Until 25 August
"Nath Valvo just gets better and better.
He is a crowd pleaser but he isn’t a pushover. He identifies the resistant spots in the audience and goads them into laughter. On stage he’s definitely an Alpha male.
Once the audience has accepted Nath Valvo is the person in charge of the room, it is time to relax and enjoy an hour of superbly framed stories, full of big, uncomplicated laughs."
Fern Brady: Power & Chaos, Monkey Barrel, Until 25 August
"She’s absolutely fearless – there’s nowhere she won’t go and nothing she won’t say on stage and she’ll switch from snarling and menacing to sweet and girlish in an instant. It’s a killer combination. Brady looks like no-one else, sounds like no-one else and says things you can’t imagine anyone else would say. She’s more like a cartoon, or someone in a film, than in real life. She’s got the attitude of Tank Girl, the wit of Julie Birchill and the comic timing of Ken Dodd.
And she’s fantastically funny – whether she’s talking about fingering girls, being locked up in a mental institution, or watching porn, she’ll find the way to get the biggest possible laugh out of the most outrageous subject matter."
Carl Donnelly: Shall We All Just Kill Ourselves?, Heroes @ The Hive, Until 25 August
"Donnelly is a working-class vegan with a spiritual bent. He’s acknowledged his mental health issues, he meditates, he wears a crystal. This is a show about how to be all those things, to care about people and about the planet but not to take yourself too damn seriously.
It’s a beautifully balanced performance, both acknowledging that the world is in a perilous state and showing the way we can learn to live a bit more easily with each other."
Candy Gigi Presents – Friday Night Sinner!, Monkey Barrel 5, Until 25 August
"Watch the extraordinarily talented Candy Gigi power through the story of a doomed Borehamwood housewife (and murdering psychopath) who just wants to be a star.
The show also has airborne vegetables, onion eating, an Appalling Jewish Mother and a talking vagina.
It is a one psychopath tour de force and she is as ruthless as she is fabulous."
Jimmy McGhie, Laughing Horse @The Pear Tree, Until 24 August
"Jimmy is 39. Single. Living in his much more successful sister’s attic.
He is thinking about having a mid-life crisis. But a proper one, like the one his Dad had. Although, the way things are going for Jimmy, I suspect he couldn’t afford it.
Car-crash dates and existential angst, his daddy issues and the effects of growing up in the very bowels of the patriarchy, niche porn, millenials and why bottling it up is the way to go, together with an ongoing bonding experience with our small but enthusiastic audience make for a satisfying hour with a comic who is supremely good at what he does, even when he is not doing very much."
Ed Night: Jokes of Love & Hate, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"It’s Ed Night’s turn to get dark this year and he does a pretty good job of taking us inside his skin and he is not scared of shining a light into the scarier corners of his life.
A comedian with a razor- sharp understanding of how to craft a joke...Politicians, famous comics, sexually voracious young women – no-one is sacred in his world and Night is also more than happy to make himself the butt of a joke.
As far as comedy goes, he’s pretty much cracked it already."
George Egg: Movable Feast, Assembly George Square Gardens, Until 25 August
"The comedy is genial, cuddly and constant, taking in Waitrose, suggestions for getting free food on trains, wireless mice, his waning eyesight, Ariana Grande and a couple of delightful food- based poems.
He is reminiscent of a culinary Bill Bailey, with chopping boards instead of keyboards. It is a multi-sensory delight to spend an hour with him."
Daliso Chaponda: Blah Blah Blacklist, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Until 26 August
"This hour has nuance, it has questions and in it Chaponda wrestles with the current predilection for cancellation as a primary method of dealing with artists of any kind who transgress.
Chaponda is truly libertarian in his inability to embrace the book-burning and music- erasing so beloved of today’s judgemental classes. And he takes flak for his open-minded stance.
This is a brave and honest political piece wrapped in the warmth and friendliness of an accomplished comedian. And it has the best pre-show music in Edinburgh."
Ciarán Dowd: Padre Rodolfo, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"Winner of the best newcomer award at last year’s Fringe, Ciarán Dowd’s swashbuckling creation Don Rodolfo remains an undemanding, swaggeringly enjoyable pastiche of the romance and legend of Zorro.
Rarely does he miss an opportunity to top a line with another daft gag but his quality control remains impressively high.
One hopes that there’s plenty more life and lust in the Rodolfo saga yet."
Dominic Frisbee: Libertarian Love Songs, Banshee Labyrinth, Until 25 August
"Enter the Republic of Libertaria and enjoy politics through the medium of song in the company of Dominic Frisby and his excellent band, the Gilets Jaunes – comprising Chad Leyland and
Fans of passive-aggressive raps and Wetherspoons will be thrilled with this show, which has its feet in genuine political beliefs and its head in beautifully crafted, cleverly pitched, comedy
delivered with a finesse that befits libertarian ideals."
Aaron Simmonds: Disabled Coconut, Underbelly, Until 26 August
"This is the ‘com’-est rom-com ever and Aaron Simmonds is a superb storyteller. He is a confident, sparky, smiley presence onstage and it is easy to see why he is an award winner.
This show has the best, the most beautifully constructed and the most unexpectable narrative line of pretty much any I have seen. There are twists and turns and in every single one there
is a laugh."
Seymour Mace is My Name, Climb Up My Nose and Sit in My Brain, The Stand, Until 25 August
"As well as being a brilliantly offbeat comic Mace is a cartoonist, an inventor of props and now, also a creator of ceramics.I won’t tell you what he has been making, as it would spoil the
It feels OK to laugh when he rant , raves, swears and curses. It is cathartic for him and for us to publicly acknowledge that life is sometimes absolutely terrible, unpleasant and unfair... And
it’s lovely to see teenagers in the audience crease with laughter when they realise swearing can be both entertaining and therapeutic."
Glenn Moore: Love Don't Live Here Glenny Moore, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"Joke follows joke follows joke in his show – which must have one of the highest laugh counts in town. Moore says he wants to hear a laugh every ten seconds – which is a comic overstatement – but not by much.
Nominated for last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards and fast winning a reputation as one of TV’s best joke-writers, he is definitely a man to watch."
Josie Long: Tender, The Stand, Until 25 August
"Her excitability is as infectious as always. And though she scarcely needs it, goodwill towards this goofy optimist is enhanced by the news that she’s had a baby. With some obvious caveats about the apocalypse and acknowledgement that everyone’s experience of parenting is different, Tender is explicitly personal and positive.
The message that children reacquaint us with our better selves is sentimental. But it’s well-earned after an hour of near-constant laughs"
Sophie Duker: Venus, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"While ticking the box for an introductory hour of being an affecting account of self-discovery, this is distinctly secondary to the laughs Duker mischievously elicits from would-be white knight saviours and the po-faced woke. A cautionary tale for Meghan Markle, Venus features some exceptionally witty skewering of pop culture and screamingly hilarious insight into the full horrors of Stacey Dooley Syndrome."
Sam Taunton: It’s Nice, It’s Modern, Assembly George Square, Until 25 August
"There’s nothing political, nothing deep, nothing psychological. He’s not inviting anyone to feel sorry for him. He doesn’t want to be your friend. He’s just a bewildered man, floundering hopelessly.
In a city where so many people are taking comedy so seriously, Sam Taunton is a breath of fresh air."
Sara Barron: Enemies Closer, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"Whether it is the way she talks of summoning up tears for wedding speeches or her how she can’t even manage the modicum of effort it would take to cut her frenemies adrift, Barron isn’t slow in convincing you of, and allying you to, her cynicism. A hasty death is wished for an older relative and we root for her.
She works the room with a swagger and initially at least, her vocabulary is inflected with Instagram-isms, parodying the online pseuds she despises. She strives to make connections with individual punters, but the bitchiness is infectious, with pockets of the crowd erupting spontaneously, setting off others as suppressed, terrible thoughts are acknowledged."
Jordan Brookes: I've Got Nothing, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"It takes a really good comic to find big laughs in something. It takes a great comic to find big laughs in nothing. And that, more or less, is what Jordan Brookes does. It takes great skill to make an hour look this random, and yet keep hitting laughter buttons with precision.
I think this year Jordan Brookes is just crazily, adorably funny. You should see him!"
Business Casual, Underbelly - Cowgate, Until 25 August
"Fans of Usher and Lil Jon are in for a thrill. Luckily there is plenty for fans of “absurdist sketch comedy” as well.
While the whole thing comes across as manic, look closely and you see a beautifully put together show which mixes collections of quickies with longer form sketches, and turns crowdwork into a running gag.
It is only a small venue so get your tickets now, I have the feeling this show is going to sell out."
Catherine Cohen: The Twist...?She's Gorgeous, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"Gilt-edged glamorous and off-the-cuff witty from the get-go, her stream-of-consciousness is at once exotic, pretentious and Instagram-speak moronic.
In one important regard Cohen is an absolute throwback, a trouper of the old school, unable to extricate her winning smile from the pain and bewilderment. An hour in her company is a unique and confusing delight."
Luca Cupani: Lives I never Lived, Just The Tonic @ The Mash House, Until 25 August
"Sheer niceness is an underrated quality in comedy. Luca Cupani’s hour is driven by it.
This show is a huge tangle of comedy pathways all lit up by his charm and gently bewildered persona. The ending is messy and he should consider dumping the shark but otherwise, this is a lovely hour."
Leo Kearse: Transgressive, Gilded Balloon Teviot?, Until 25 August
"Hilariously scatalogical horrors jostle for attention with Harvey Weinstein and fat activists and Kearse’s impassioned frustration with micro-aggressions and universities that ban sarcasm in case it upsets people gets more sympathetic as it becomes funnier.
Although much of the hour is spent in hugely entertaining poking of the woke, this is a warm and personal show. Take the weight off your vegan sandals and enjoy it."
Andrew Maxwell: All Talk, Underbelly - George Square, Until 25 August
"He is an original thinker and his views on big subjects – Brexit, marriage, tabloids, trans rights and reality television – are never what you might expect. He’s full of love for Edinburgh and its comedy-literate audiences – but he is not afraid to lampoon our Presbyterian and nationalistic tendencies. This is a great place for comedy, he tells us – but only because it is so immensely hard to persuade a Scot to smile.
Getting older suits him and there’s a genuine warmth and wisdom to mellow Maxwell gold, which is unexpectedly soothing to the soul."
Goodbear: Dougal, Pleasance Dome, Until 25 August
"This show is an hilarious Slinky, tumbling down the stairs of funny, each sketch morphing into the next on the changing of a sound cue or a lighting effect. Some are funnier that others but they are all clever stuff.
"The skill in taking the tiniest moment at the end of one sketch and use it as the blue touch paper for the next is wonderful to watch. I am so engaged that I use precious battery power to help light their big emotional finish with my phone torch. This is aspirational and inspirational sketch comedy"
Adventures in Dementia - Steve Day, Laughing Horse The Lock Up, Until 10 August
"Steve Day, Britain’s only deaf comedian, tells the story of his father in this beautifully written hour.
His story is funny, wise and full of tenderness. It’s the exceptionally well told story of an ordinary family, which reminds us of the wonder at the heart of everyday life."
Mr Thing, Pleasance Dome, Until 25 August
"Just as US late-night shows are meant to offer an easy wind-down after a long day, the hugely entertaining Mr Thing is the perfect nocturnal nightcap for the ordeal of Edinburgh pavement pounding and queuing in the rain.
Ostensibly a chatshow, with guests plucked from the Fringe to plug their wares, in reality Mr Thing is a gang show far greater than its myriad parts, its knockabout nonsense facilitated by some well-executed tech and sublime, rascally humour."
Sean Morley: Soon I Will Be Dead and My Bones Will Be Free to Wreak Havoc Upon the Earth Once More, Heroes @ The Hive, Until 25 August
"Morley does not stint on the material. The “first joke” is fully ten minutes long. But it is not all silliness and laughter here. There is a consideration of the place of murder in the pantheon of havocs that can be wrought upon the earth and a lively debate on whether an adult can be friends with a baby.
Crazy/clever comedy that somehow reaches your funnybone without being processed by your frontal lobe."
Sean Patton: Contradickhead, Gilded Balloon Tevio?t, Until 25 August
"Patton is a supremely gifted storyteller, taking often base matter and musing it into gold.
He addresses several modern concerns, the woker-than-thou smugness of his acquaintances and how hard mothers can physically punish their male children. But Patton always finds a distinctive way into the observation and takes it off on earthy but inspired tangents."
I, Tom Mayhew, Just the Tonic @ The Mash House, Until 25 August
"The hour is studded with delightful little one liners. His working class credentials are unimpeachable – he grew up poor, in a devoutly Christian household, his dad drove trucks, his mum works in Boots – and when he gets stuck into the stigmatisation of the working class and the sweeping judgments that are made about the poor he lights up the whole room.
These are four stars for a voice that should be heard more. Four stars for comedy shining a light on some grim, unjust places. And four stars for Tom Mayhew’s Dad, who sounds awesome."
Twonkey's Ten Year Twitch, Just The Tonic @ The Caves?, Until 25 August
"Time to enter the Twonkeyverse again. Climb aboard his Weird but Wonderful Waltzer and away we go… up and down and roundabout for a bit, but then he takes hold of your car and spins and you are off, pinned to the wall by a centrifuge of silliness.
You simply have to go with it and thrill to the ride. Trying to make normal sense of a Twonkey show is like trying to get a cup of water from a bucketful that is being swung around your head."
Will Adamsdale: Facetime, Underbelly - Bristo Square?, Until 25 August
"So skilled an actor, and so nuanced a writer is Will Adamsdale that you are never quite sure where the line between stand-up and character comedy lies
This onstage Will is a fascinating, funny/sad creation, with a heart-stirring rallying cry at the end. This is another captivating show from a comic craftsman of whom we see too little."
Phil Nichol: Too Much, Monkey Barrel Comedy, Until 25 August
"It has been a while since comedy audiences were treated to one of Phil Nichol’s trainwreck tales. This one actually takes place on a train. Until he is forced off it.
Nichol falls over himself to pack as much into the hour as possible and it is a thrilling experience. When he howls his frustration at people complaining that he is swearing at them, he howls for sweary people everywhere. First time I have seen a standing ovation in a Fringe venue. Fully deserved."
Tony Law: Identifies, Monkey Barrel Comedy, Until 25 August
"Canadian Tony Law might one day find a narrative thread and an accent in which to follow it, but not, as they say, today. Not that that matters as you are enveloped by a kind of crazy Honey Monster and comedy-wrestled into submission.
I do not think Live at the Apollo remotely deserves Tony Law. Go and see him live at the Monkey Barrel. Much better."
Sid Singh: American Refugee, Counting House, Until 25 August
"Sid is a human rights lawyer when he is not sneaking into countries to do powerhouse political comedy shows, and so when he talks, you really should listen, because his hourly rate is normally a lot more than a donation in a bucket.
Sid is brutally honest when he tells us that comedy cannot change the world. But what he does is bringing it closer. Please don't deport him."
Jojo Sutherland: Riches to Rags, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Until 26 August
"It has been a long, long time since I heard a room full of laughing people stunned into silence by a single line. But two-thirds into Jojo Sutherland’s hour that is exactly what happens. You need to go and see this show. You need to hear what she has to say.
All of this comes peppered with wonderful little asides, and studded with beautifully placed one-liners. And then Jojo drops the bomb. It will shock you. It should."
Stand Up with Janine Harouni (Please Remain Seated), Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25
"As origin stories go, Stand Up is an absolute belter, with Harouni covering plenty of ground in her unhurriedly paced, sure-footed account.
She might imply that living in the UK has jaded her into comedy but she demonstrates plenty of the dramatist’s art in this uplifting and very funny hour."
Ahir Shah: Dots, Monkey Barrel?, Until 25 August
"Ahir Shah returns with yet another superbly assured breakdown of the state of the world and his own, ever-present insecurities...
Tremendously thoughtful, woundedly candid and self-laceratingly funny, Dots maintains his exceptionally high standard of recent Fringe offerings."
Frank Foucault: The Desk, Paradise at the Vaults?, Until 25 August
"If you are looking for a smart show then this is the one for you. Not simply because Frank Foucault spends fully six minutes of the hour simply saying the word “smart”, but because this is comedy packed with risky ideas (not the least of which is just saying “smart” for minutes on end) and full of unexpectable twists and turns.
Even the meta moments don't have the usual 'when I grow up I want to be Stewart Lee' ennui. Luke Smith, who has more than a hand in Frank's shows, is to be congratulated. This show is not just funny, it is very, very—what's the word?—smart."
Comedy review: Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner, Until 25 August
"Simon has gone smart casual for this hour, and that is not the only change.
The last twenty minutes of this show are a gripping and, ultimately heartwarming tale (and Simon is not best known for warming hearts) of how his world was shattered and came back together better than before. I am not going to tell you his story. You should hear it from him, all rich with Evans' wit and caustic observation."
Aindrias de Staic, Black Medicine?, Until 25 August
"In a comedy Edinburgh full of contrivance, self-serving and mildly amusing accounts of actually very little, it is a glorious kick up yer laughing bits to spend an hour with Aindrias de Staic.
This is an experience you will never forget. Aindrias is a state of mind. Aindrias is a trip to comedy before it had a microphone, an agent and desperate hopes of getting on Live at the Apollo. Aindrias is a reminder that comedy can be part of a culture and not just a way to your own TV series. Although Aindrais, he tells us, has been on TV. He is huge in the Gaelic speaking parts of Ireland."
James McNicholas: The Boxer, Pleasance Courtyard?, Until 25 August
"As betrays his sketch background, McNicholas invests his grandfather - 1961 middleweight champion of the world Terry Downes - with larger-than-life vigour and determined charisma, satisfying the demand for biography while prioritising the gags, cheekily supplementing a story that starts vividly in the war with the occasional anachronistic quip.
If that were all, you'd have a compelling sporting tale and consistent laughs. But in trying circumstances, the comic finds a way to bridge the gap between himself and Downes, bouncing back off the ropes just when his situation appeared at its darkest, a few feints and weaves landing some poignant blows."
Dan Soder: Son of A Gary, Underbelly - Bristo Square, Until 26 August
"Comics like Dan Soder risk sounding churlish when they dismiss the artistic pretensions of the Fringe and stand-up in general, more so if they don't deign to adapt their US cultural references. But damn it, if it isn't refreshing to hear such dry, caustically delivered cynicism amidst all the festival talk of profound journeys and personal epiphanies.
Moreover, he has a code to live by and it's simple: life is shitty, so make fun of everything. And it's something he accomplishes with aplomb."
Daniel Nils Roberts: The History of the World in 1 Hour, Underbelly - Bristo Square, Until 25 August
"This is a ridiculous, cheesy, show. It might even be described as a cliché. It has grandiose claims, false starts, guests that don't turn up and, predictably, runs out of time. But there is just so much fun and silliness here that you cannot help but be drawn in.
As promised, we do not merely laugh (although we laugh a lot ) we learn, Fans of Belgium will never think the same way about the home of Poirot and expensive choccies, those who love a good heiroglyph will be delighted and even those for whom no show is complete without a Brexit moment get possibly the freshest one in Edinburgh this month. As you would expect, it is a tightly packed hour, Roberts does not drop the pace for a second, even when a bit of buffering threatens the onscreen proceedings. This, for me, was probably the funniest section of the show. Fine art lovers will love it, fans of historical figure-based comedy will be in raptures. On a 'jokes per pound' basis, Daniel Nils Roberts offers one of the best bargains of the Fringe."
Spencer Jones: The Things We Leave Behind, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"A recreation of what he chucklingly calls the “work room” for his “job”, Jones' conceit is that he's arriving back late at night after a gig and seeking to potter about in his den, with 3.30am the only time he's free of familial responsibilities to indulge his whimsy.
Irrepressibly fun at a level of utter silliness-for-silliness sake, Jones nevertheless imbues his hour with such loveable warmth and not a little vulnerability that you can't help but return, and get swept up in, the embrace."
Frisky & Mannish’s PopLab, Assembly George Square, Until 25 August
"Musical-comedy duo Frisky & Mannish have been away from the Fringe for a while but the maestros of the mash-up are back, and they’re as funny, inventive and entertaining as ever.
You can’t help but be consistently impressed by the duo’s serious musical skills and terrific comic touch as well as their easy rapport with one another and ability to have the crowd eating out of their hand."
Myra DuBois: Dead Funny, Underbelly - Bristo Square, Until 25 August
“It’s okay to whoop and cheer,” acid-tongued drag sensation Myra DuBois quips. “It’s what I would have wanted.” The gimmick of the show, you see, is that we are the guests at Myra’s funeral, which comes complete with mawkish tribute photo, black urn, box of tissues and an unusually lively subject.
It all makes for Myra’s best show yet, with a foundation of tight scripted material offering comfortable leeway for plentiful improvisation in the moment. Especially sensitive types might feel it veers into the macabre (“Has anyone been to a funeral? Give me a cheer!”) but, as shows about death go, its very lively. Apart from the songs that is. As usual, they get massacred."
Rob Auton: The Time Show, Assembly George Square, Until 26 August
"Rob Auton makes beautiful, poetic, philosophical, funny shows crafted around a single word or idea. This year it’s Time – what is it, how does it begin, how does it end, what does it do.
Auton is one of those comics who has a devoted following, who would not miss his Edinburgh show and whose affection for this quiet man you can feel in the room. For others he is an unexpected delight - someone who makes laughter out of wonder and who brings us all together, in this room, at this particular moment in time."
Matt Forde: Brexit, Pursued by a Bear, Pleasance Courtyard until 25 August
"Matt Forde is the consummate political comedian, but you leave Brexit: Pursued by a Bear with the sense that even he is finding it hard to find the funny in Brexit. Last year at the Fringe, farcical attempts to negotiate a deal were still ongoing. This year Forde walks on stage with the UK on the cusp of a recession for the first time in seven years. The coming election, he said, will offer a choice between a populist, racist imbecile and – Boris Johnson. Boom boom."
Diane Chorley: Modern Love | Down the Flick, Assembly George Square, Until 25 August
"Anyone who’s seen a show by comic chanteuse Diane Chorley has heard of the Flick, the supposedly legendary East End club where the supposedly legendary mover and shaker established her naff-glam reputation as queen of 80s and 90s nightlife, prior to falling on hard times.
As well as hearing the tale in Modern Love, you can get a little hint of what Chorley has in mind at the late-night variety show Down the Flick, at the same venue, where she’s joined by some cracking guests from the weirder, queerer end of Fringe entertainment, some of whom aren’t afraid of an orifice."
Sarah Kendall: Paper Planes, Assembly George Square?, Until 25 August
"The London-based Australian storyteller, known for her brilliantly funny and insightful shows, has been finding it hard to sleep.She has been scrolling the internet instead of getting on with her work. And although she does not go so far to say she’s depressed, she’s been struggling to find the joy in life.
Trump is still in the White House, the weather is still out of control and there is still a risk that planes will fall out of the sky. But Kendall does find cause for optimism in a very unlikely setting."
Zach Zimmerman: Clean Comedy, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, Until 26 August
"With one of the best opening salvoes I’ve witnessed at this festival, Zach Zimmerman has his welcoming spiel down pat, introducing himself as a strapping, gay son of a preacher man from the American Deep South.
Clocking in at a pithily exquisite 45 minutes, Clean Comedy is a late-night treat of superior, coming-of-age storytelling swept along on Zimmerman’s beaming charisma and some tremendous gag-writing."
Clive Anderson; Me, Macbeth and I, Assembly George Square Studios, Until 25 August
"If you create a Venn Diagram of entertainment with sets containing The Bee Gees, The Woodland Trust, football, tragic theatrical deaths (including one suicide and a probable murder), Shakespeare-induced rioting on the streets of New York, witchcraft, identity politics, prunes and Macbeth then in one intersecting set stands, in full Highland dress, Clive Anderson.
His canter through his own Shakespearean career is an absolute joy, I desperately want to see more of his Scottish stand-up and the skill with which he peppers the hour with tiny political jibes is wonderful to watch."
Moon: We Cannot Get Out, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"Quite why Jack Chisnall and Joshua Dolphin choose to have their venue attacking them is never really clear, though it's stated that they've been goaded into it by student press calling them “immersive”.
Whatever, it plays to their capacity to surprise, with murderous microphones and other dangerous set dressing a clunky, cartoonish manifestation of their ever-present menace and threat of violence.
For all their apparent death wish, Moon seem pretty vital right now."
Johnny Pelham: Off Limits, Just The Tonic @ The Caves, Until 25 August
"Like Hannah Gadsby and Richard Gadd before him, Jonny Pelham is revisiting experiences latent in his previous Fringe hours.
Related simply, and from the heart, there's no overlooking the trauma that Pelham has now acknowledged. But he makes a strong argument for understanding society's difficulty in processing it too...Unquestionably dark, Off Limits is also deeply humane. And it's far funnier than you'd be inclined to imagine."
Gary Starr Conquers Troy, Underbelly - Cowgate, Until 25 August
"Having torn through the dramatic canon for his uproariously funny debut last year, insane thespian Garry Starr has turned his ever-present ruff and attention to the classics, the better to espouse his comprehensive philosophy of acting.
Ari Eldjárn: Eagle Fire Iron, Monkey Barrel, Until 25 August
"Deriving his show title from the direct meaning of his name, Icelandic comic Ari Eldjárn's return to Edinburgh is an immediately appealing guide to his homeland, filtered though personal tales and relatable observational humour.
As straightforwardly enjoyable and undemanding an hour of stand-up as you'll find at the Fringe."
Jessica Fostekew: Hench, Monkey Barrel?, Until 25 August
"Concurrent with building up her body, positively, for the first time, with Hench,Jessica Fostekew is doing some heavier lifting with her stand-up as well. The ascension hasn’t been easy.
While her own ideas are nuanced, Fostekew is scornful of the basic narratives of the diet industry and scathing about attacks on trans and intersex athletes. And she highlights the lie of power and endurance being masculine traits with a withering protest at male genitals being seen as synonymous with strength."
J J Whitehead: Five Times I Lied to Myself, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Until 26 August
"We have had a lot to thank Canada for, over the years, comedically speaking. For decades, UK comedy has been enriched by the crazy guys from the north. I doubt we shall see their like again. They have grown up and settled down.
This hour is great fun. No big message (other than pull the curtain, not the rings), no political grandstanding. Just slightly crazy, funny, kick-back-and-laugh enjoyment. Thank you Canada."
Sarah Keyworth: Pacific, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"At the vanguard of society’s rapidly shifting gender revolution, a small woman who remains hopelessly committed to the idea that she’s a big, unreconstructed man, Keyworth is a thoughtful, sensitive but instinctively self-mocking guide.
Exceeding the promise of last year’s best newcomer nominated debut, who’s a big boy now then?"
John Kearns: Double Take and Fade Away, Monkey Barrel, Until 24 August
"As he reflects in a message to his younger self, John Kearns has talked with crowds yet remained true to himself, even if his stand-up remains niche.
His poised, poetic stream of consciousness is the whirring logic of a very funny man with a profound understanding of the human condition"
Nish Kumar: It’s In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves?, Assembly George Square, Until 25 August
"Kumar may now be the sort of comic who is invited on to Question Time but he has lost none of his fire and fury. He challenges his audiences, he makes you think – and miraculously he manages to make people laugh about politics in an era when hardly anyone can bear to think about it."
Reverend Richard Coles: #SimpleCountryParson, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"The Communards’ hit, Don’t Leave Me This Way, is playing as we take our seats in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, a reminder – if any is needed – that this bespectacled vicar was half of the gay pop duo who produced the biggest selling hit single of 1986.
Rev Coles is polished but sincere, self-deprecating enough to avoid (mostly) charges of pomposity. You won’t be rolling in the aisles, but the comedy equivalent of afternoon tea will leave you pleasantly entertained."
Harry and Chris: This One's for the Aliens, Underbelly - Cowgate, Until 24 August
"Representing, shouting out to the rest of the universe, comedy-rap-jazz duo Harry and Chris have their act locked down so tight that even their failures are turned to triumphs.
Having previously scaled the heights of separate, incidental appearances on Songs of Praise, accomplished slam poet Harry Baker and his best friend, intuitive jazz noodler Chris Read, have declared themselves publicists for planet Earth, their apocalyptic opening track followed by a brief recap of their origins and résumé of their careers, serving up advice for any extra-terrestrials tempted to visit."
Ian Smith: Half-Life, Underbelly - Bristo Square, Until 25 August
"Every year it seems like Ian Smith brings an effortlessly brilliant stand-up show to the Fringe.
At base the expression of a man's devotion to his wife-to-be, Half-Life is never conveyed in such sentimental terms. Still, Smith imbues it with a gentle, romantic quixoticism, even when he's furiously denouncing old ladies for questioning his crudity on the Scrabble board. Interesting on the mythology of Chernobyl, the show is consistently, daftly funny and occasionally moving too."
Adam Rowe: Pinnacle, Just the Tonic @ The Caves, Until 25 August
"Throughout, Rowe is careful to contextualise and see all sides of debates, setting up his closing, potentially controversial remarks about the representation of fat people - a group he identifies with. Self-consciously edgy, punchy, this is another irrepressible and articulate hour from a rising talent."
Courtney Pauroso: Gutterplum, Underbelly - Cowgate, Until 25 August
"You have to see this show. That is pretty much all you need to know. To tell you more risks spoiling the joy of the rolling surprises she springs on you. Courtney Pauroso is an extraordinary talent – both dramatically and comedically. She can also do press-ups and play tunes with a body-part not so well known for its musical abilities.
You have to see this show"
Michael Legge: The Idiot, The Stand Comedy Club, Until 26 August
"Steeped in his resentment of comedy and the Fringe, the perverse Michael Legge lambastes his venue upgrade this year and contrives bespoke jokes for the absent Robin Ince and Graham Linehan, He bitterly denounces ukulele-playing comedians as no better than the silent disco participating scum he’d like to violently erase from Edinburgh’s streets and envies the misdeeds of Ricky Gervais and Louis CK. Unlike them though, he’s capable of feeling immense shame. He’s failing his potential. As we all are. Because for some reason, inexplicably, and in the history of recorded time, only one man has ever chosen to be Iggy Pop."
Jen Brister: Under Privilege, Monkey Barrel, Until 25 August
"Jen Brister has found a potent groove in her combustible angst of being a lesbian struggling to raise socially aware, four-year-old twin boys.
And her abiding message, that minority rights which need to be repeatedly fought for are not meaningful rights at all, is well made."
The Delightful Sausage, Monkey Barrel, Until 25 August
"The Delightful Sausage are, indeed, delightful. This year's show is layered up like a comedy knickerbocker glory with funny frothy bits, solid belly laugh bits, silly sprinkled jokey stuff and a fair old dollop of delicious dark material underneath it all that surfaces every so often to remind you that this is a grown up confection.
This is their most nuanced show so far and it leaves you hungry for more sausage."
Cally Beaton: Invisible, Assembly George Square Studios, Until 26 August
"An uplifting tale of moxie and humour, Cally Beaton invests Invisible with jeopardy, highs, lows, feminist resolve and a steady stream of fine, self-deprecating gags, liberally sprinkled like urine on white Icelandic snow.
Georgia Tasda’s School of Magic, PBH’s Free Fringe?, Until 25 August
"If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like if Nosferatu covered a Queen song in the basement of a gay bar, high kicks and all, Georgia Tasda’s School of Magic is the show for you."
London Hughes: To Catch a D*ck, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"Lest there be any confusion, London Hughes is quick to clarify that her show title isn’t some elaborate theatrical metaphor, but simply reflecting a show that’s sweaty with sex."
Rhod Gilbert: The Book of John, Pleasance at EICC, Until 25 August
"At loggerheads from the start, the Welsh comic credits the chauffeur as the muse who inspired him back to stand-up, so perverse and wrong-headed are his opinions. Confounding the incredulous comic on everything from the provenance of frozen prawns to the fertility risks of smoking, the pair’s crossed wires reaches its apotheosis in their mutual respect for George Michael, the late singer’s back catalogue affording Gilbert the opportunity for a tour de force series of contrived lyrical gags."
Jayde Adams: The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"Without all her usual razzle dazzle crutches, Adams seriously impresses with this tongue-in-cheek lecture, confirming that the seasoned stand-up’s gift of deeper analysis and capacity to project beyond herself were inside her all along."
Jack Turner: Comedy Stand-Up Hour, Underbelly - Cowgate, Until 25 August
"An almighty car crash of a comic, Jack Tucker is an act you can’t take your eyes off, so mesmerising is his hack ineptitude and contradictory, bulletproof confidence in his greatness."
Andy Doyle: Exodus, Pleasance Courtyard, Until 25 August
"“It’s over for me” says Andrew Doyle towards the end of this passionate, powerful show. If true then that is a terrible thing. He is a highly intelligent, wonderfully articulate comedian, capable of excising laughs from the most awful of realities with surgical precision."