Susan Calman to headline brain tumour benefit at Edinburgh Fringe

One of Scotland's leading comics will make her only appearance at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe to headline a benefit for a brain tumour charity inspired by a five-year-old's cancer battle.
Susan Calman. Picture: Jane Hobson/RexSusan Calman. Picture: Jane Hobson/Rex
Susan Calman. Picture: Jane Hobson/Rex

Susan Calman will also host the McEwan Hall for the Big Brain Tumour Benefit, which was instigated by Underbelly founder Ed Bartlam after his son Alfie started undergoing extensive treatment in the US.

Calman, who postponed a live tour last autumn to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, said she would be coming out of “retirement” from stand-up for the event.

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The Glasgow-born comic will be appearing at the 950-capacity venue alongside Irishman David O’Doherty, a former Edinburgh Comedy Award winner, and Nish Kumar, host of the BBC show The Mash Report.

All proceeds will go to the Brain Tumour Charity, which funds pioneering research into brain tumours, which are said to be the biggest killer for children and adults under 40, and campaigns to raise awareness of their symptoms and effects, inrease survival rates and reduce diagnosis times.

Underbelly has already raised more than £30,000 for the charity from an initial benefit last year, which was staged in its purple cow-shaped venue in George Square and featured appearances from John Bishop and Jason Byrne.

It was staged less than a year after Mr Bartlam and his wife Lucinda started noticing that Alfie, who was just four at the time, was becoming sick and lethargic every morning.

He had to undergo a seven-and-a-half hour operation to remove a tumour “the size of a small orange” and was then flown to Florida for weeks of specialist treatment after tests showed up a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. Alfie, who is still undergoing treatment, is expected to undergoing regular brain scans for the foreseeable future.

Mr Bartlam said: “I sadly know first hand how devastating a brain tumour diagnosis can be. The Brain Tumour Charity is doing an amazing job at both increasing awareness and raising money to fund much needed research into these forms of disease.

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“Underbelly will continue to do everything in its power to raise as much money for the charity and the research as possible.

“This is the second year of our Fringe benefit show and by moving it to the majestic McEwan Hall, with more seats to sell than last year, we have the opportunity to raise even more money.”

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Calman added: “It takes a lot to get me out of my self-imposed (brief) retirement from stand-up comedy but when Underbelly asked me to host this show I had to say yes. They gave me one of my first breaks in the world of comedy by allowing me to perform several shows with them and have continued to support me throughout my career. It’ll be an honour to MC this incredible show with so many fabulous acts for a brilliant cause.”

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