It's that time of year again, when I save you the trouble of leafing through the EdFringe brochure by bringing you my hand-picked list of the 258 essential shows you must see this August. Some acts would fork out a lot of money to a PR to appear in a prestigious list like this. So, if anybody who appears in this list wants to send me a quid that'd be much appreciated, because if you all do then that'll pay for my flyerer for the month. Anyway, here's your first batch of great shows!
PS I'm often asked why I bother doing this every year. The short answer is that, much as it's fun to be swept along by the buzz and hype of best-of lists and the like, my annual list is an incredibly labour-intensive reminder that none of it means much, and regardless of who's "one to watch" or pegged as a "breakout hit," literally everybody who takes a show to the Fringe has something of value to share. So this is my reminder to everybody to make sure we don't take it all too seriously and remember to have fun and enjoy one another's work, even in the midst of playing the game.
Aaron Levene & Andy Zapp: The GILF And The BuJew
PBH @ Opium, 13:45. Free. Stand-Up
"GILF" means "Grandad I'd Like To F**k," because Andy Zapp is old but also sexy, and I don't know what BuJew means. In this show, Andy and Aaron Levene tell some funny stories about age and Judaism. It looks like they forgot to submit a show image so are stuck with the generic PBH logo, but I'll bet the show is still great.
The Abridged Dapper Eleven Hour Monochrome Dream Show
Laughing Horse @ The White Horse, 01:00. Free. Absurdist
For complicated reasons, I'm not going to give any details about what this is. It's got some of my favourite people in it, though. It might have a giant chicken in it, or a poet called John Bencheman. It might have none of those things. It's on at 1 in the morning, and based on who's putting it together, that means it'll be absolutely terrifying.
ACMS: The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4, 22:05. Paid. Mixed Bill
John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck's showcase of stupid Sisyphean comedy returns with mixed bills featuring some of the silliest and most imaginative comics at the Fringe. Anybody who was a big fan of my month-long Joke from last year's ACMS will be delighted to hear I will be reprising it as often as possible this year.
Adam Hess: Feathers
Heroes @ The Hive, 16:10. PWYW. Stand-Up
Adam had a pretty big year last year, with a smash-hit show and a Foster's nomination for Best Newcomer to boot! He's even got a lovely new blue shirt, as you can see. But is he resting on his laurels? Is he heck! He's only gone and written a brand new show for you all! This will be great, come see this silly boy do funny things.
Adam Kay: Fingering A Minor On The Piano
Pleasance Courtyard, 18:40. Paid. Musical Comedy
I've actually only seen Adam live once, but he was very good and always Likes everything I post on Facebook so he makes it onto the list! Plus, he's the guy from the Amateur Transplants who wrote that London Underground song, so you know this'll be good. Lots of jolly musical fun, I reckon. PS Read the title again carefully, it's a bit rude!
Adam Larter's Return On Investment
Heroes @ The Hive, 12:50. PWYW. Absurdist
After a couple of years away from the Fringe, Chief Weirdo Adam returns with a new nonsensical play about the world of business in the 80s. Adam stars as Glenn Fiscal, with Marny Godden as Meryl Dollar, Lucy Pearman as Lou Fotanzia and yours truly as Billy Teeth, plus it features a great new 80s anthem by Laurence Owen.
Ahir Shah: Machines
Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, 13:30. Free. Stand-Up
Machines. We've all seen them in our day-to-day lives and taken them for granted. Answering machines, sewing machines. Loads of them. But just what are they thinking behind their shiny surfaces? Ahir Shah is going to find out in this new investigative comedy show! (I'm not actually completely sure what Ahir's show is about, but I think that's right).
Aidan Killian: The Money Shot
Heroes @ Dragonfly, 19:10. PWYW. Stand-Up
Oh no, two shows in a row where I don't really know what they're about! Now I'm going to look badly-researched. Seriously, though, I didn't see Aidan's show last year but we shared a venue and he was always really nice to me so I reckon he's great. I'm definitely gonna try and go this year, you should too.
Aideen McQueen, Amy Gledhill & Ben Keenan: Two Girls, One...Mug!
Frankenstein's Pub, 14:10. Free. Stand-Up
This show doesn't seem to have an image in the Fringe listings, so I've decided to use a picture of me. I don't think I know Aideen McQueen, but Amy Gledhill and Ben Keenan are a lot of fun. Come watch them be silly. Also, if you like this picture of me, why not come see my show? It's going to be very good.
Alex Hylton: I Came, I Saw, I Complained
Just The Tonic @ The Mash House, 14:20. PWYW. Stand-Up
Alex is a lovely boy who interviewed me on student radio the first time I performed at the Leicester Comedy Festival, so I owe him one. What better way to repay the favour than inclusion in this prestigious, exclusive list? His new show is probably about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
Alex Kealy Is An Idea Whose Time Has Come
Underbelly Med Quad, 21:50. Paid. Stand-Up
I was under the impression that Alex Kealy was one person, but from his promo image it looks like he's decided to become a sketch double-act this year. If you like Alex Kealy's stand-up, then you're sure to love this bold new direction for him as he clones himself and does some amazing odd-couple style bantering with himself.
Alexander Bennett: Your Beloved Alexander Bennett
PBH @ Cowgatehead, 19:30. Free. Stand-Up
Offensive, insane comedian Alexander Bennett is still on a mission to enslave the world and brainwash everyone into loving him. Alexander told me that this year's show was going "back to the beginning" and was essentially "his actual debut show." I'm not sure you're allowed to do that, but it's a grand old ambition.
Alexis Dubus: A R#ddy Brief History Of Swearing
Underbelly George Square, 20:45, August 15th. Paid. Spoken Word
A little while ago I read a book by Melvyn Bragg about the history of the English language. It was really good. This one-off special by Alexis is, I think, basically the same sort of thing but just focusing on the fun rude bits.
Alexis Dubus Verses The World
PBH @ The Voodoo Rooms, 17:15. Free. Spoken Word
And for those who can't make it to Alexis' one-off swearing special, you could always go and see him on any other day at the Voodoo Rooms doing lots of his excellent spoken-word poems and stories and things.
Ali Brice Presents: Home Is Where Eric Meat Is
Heroes @ The Hive, 14:10. PWYW. Character Comedy
Ali's had a busy year playing the lead in Graeme Of Thrones, but is returning to the Fringe as everybody's favourite moustachioed loner Eric Meat. This year, Eric has accidentally broken a mug and has to go on an adventure to fix it that involves some door-handles and an angry wasp.
Alison Thea-Skot: It's Thea-Skot In Here (So Take Off All Your Clothes)
PBH @ Cowgatehead, 20:45. Free. Character Comedy
Alison's moved on from eating grapes with her feet and dribbling water on audience members, and this year is crafting a slightly more down-to-earth show that involves a giant nylon penis and other sensible things like that.
The Alternative Alternative
Underbelly Potterrow, 23:45, August 12th. Paid. Mixed Bill
This looks interesting - it's a one-off show curated by the Mason Sisters at PBJ, whose acts include John Kearns, Pat Cahill, Sam Simmons and Mat Ewins. I'm not sure who's performing at it exactly, but it could be one of the best mixed bill shows of the Fringe.
Amy Howerska: Smashcat
Gilded Balloon @ The Counting House, 20:45. PWYW. Stand-Up
Ooh, I can say lots about this one because I'm in the Kickstarter appeal video for it! It's about how Amy's a high-functioning idiot who is sad about the death of Bowie and Prince and is reassessing her life as a result of them. Do watch the Kickstarter video, I'm very funny in it.
Andrea Hubert: Week
Gilded Balloon @ The Counting House, 15:45. PWYW. Stand-Up
Last time I saw Andrea was in Leicester and I introduced her to Eleanor. Later she said she couldn't tell that we were a couple. I think Andrea must be the sort of person who expects couples to go round constantly getting off with each other and making everyone feel awkward, but Eleanor and I are very polite and shy. Oh, go see Andrea's show.
Andrew Hunter Murray: Round One
Pleasance Courtyard, 16:15. Paid. Character Comedy
You might know Andrew from the QI Podcast, or its TV spin-off No Such Thing As The News. He's also very good at character comedy. My favourite character of his is a landlord whose property is full of bees, but that's not really doing it justice.
Andy Field: Roar
Laughing Horse @ Morirarty's, 20:00. Free. Stand-Up
Andy's really funny but I don't know him that well so was worried I wouldn't have much to say to plug his show. Luckily, today on Facebook he announced that he just got a part in an ad, so let me take this opportunity to say "Congratulations, Andy! Don't spend it all at once, now!" He's very, very good, anyway.
Andy Storey: @FunnyStorey
Gilded Balloon @ The Counting House, 12:30. PWYW. Stand-Up
Ah, Andy Storey's one of my favourites. He's got such an impressive beard that if you took his head off, turned it upside-down and put it back on he'd look exactly the same. He's been brilliant for years and this is his first solo show, I'm very excited.
Angel Comedy Showcase
Laughing Horse @ Finnegan's Wake, 14:30. Free. Mixed Bill
I'm not including many mixed bill showcases, except big one-offs like the Mason Sisters' one above, or really good ones like ACMS. Angel Comedy is another such good one. They're one of the best clubs in London, have pioneered PWYW comedy off the Fringe, and recently bought and opened their own venue. Go see their roster of some of the best comics around at the moment.
Angus Dunican: The Vanity Project
Gilded Balloon @ The Counting House, 16:15. PWYW. Stand-Up
I haven't seen Angus in years. I met him at a new act competition a few years ago and he was a lovely guy, and funny to boot. I've no idea what his act is like these days, but he's always seemed like a swell guy, so here he is. This may be an exclusive list, but that does't mean I have to actually know anything in particular about any of the acts I recommend.
Anna Morris: It's Got To Be Perfect
PBH @ The Voodoo Rooms, 15:55. Free. Character Comedy
Anna Morris brings back her hit 2015 show, in which horrible bride Georgina rehearses her wedding until the audience gets it right. I was going to be in this show when it went to the Bath Comedy Festival, but I couldn't in the end because I was having a drink with my friend Sam at the time. I've heard it's great, though.
Annie McGrath: The Seven Ages Of An
Pleasance Courtyard, 16:45. Paid. Stand-Up
Y'all know Annie McGrath. She's one half of that double act Twins. WELL NOT ANY MORE SHE'S NOT! She's gone all solo and is doing her first solo stand-up show! I saw her do some of it at a gig in Shoreditch and it was really good. (She is still in Twins, don't worry, sorry for wording that confusingly. There's a Twins show this year too. But a solo show also. Sorry for the confusion, so sorry you guys)
Arthur Smith - Mindlessness: A Beginner's Guide
Pleasance Courtyard, 13:00, August 5th-21st. Paid. Stand-Up
Arthur always comes into the kids' soft play centre where I work, buys a slice of carrot cake then leaves. I always chat to him about the Fringe and every time he asks me who I am. To be fair, though, I have to wear a green bowler hat and a massive bow-tie at work so he might not recognise me from the two times we've gigged together. Fair enough.