Glasgow Comedy Festival: Five under-the-radar picks

Glasgow Comedy Festival returns this March with a stacked lineup. We run through the headline acts before our Comedy Editor picks her must-attend under-the-radar shows

Article by Polly Glynn and Jamie Dunn | 19 Jan 2024
  • Priya Hall

Glaswegian comedy fans, get set to hammer your bank account this March. The Glasgow International Comedy Festival returns for its 21st birthday edition with a stacked lineup of standups ranging from comedy national treasures to exciting newcomers via some comedy mavericks and many of our favourite standups on the circuit. 

Set over three weeks, from 13 to 31 March, the festival features over 500 events. As ever, there are plenty of locals on the bill. Frankie Boyle continues his Lap of Shame tour. Susie McCabe, Marc Jennings and Chris Forbes bring versions of shows that went down a storm at last year’s Fringe. Scottish comedy legend Elaine C Smith brings a new one-woman show, and Smith's Two Doors Down co-star Kieran Hodgson brings his Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated show all about moving to Glasgow, Made in Scotland.

If you’re looking for some homegrown comedy that's box-fresh, Rachel Jackson, Sam Lake, Stuart McPherson and Marjolein Robertson have work-in-progress shows. Fans of Zara Gladman’s West End mum character on TikTok can also check out Gladman’s character comedy live as she takes to the stage at an appropriate venue: West End favourite Òran Mór. 

Outwith the local contingent, there are plenty of options from elsewhere in the UK like the mighty Stewart Lee with his Basic Lee show; Frank Skinner with 30 Years of Dirt; improv comedy rapper MC Hammersmith; the hilariously deadpan Huge Davies; macabre sketch troupe Tarot; the always funny Kiri Pritchard-McLean; and 2023 Fringe hit Daniel Foxx. Add to this list Sophie Duker, Rosie Jones, Ed Gamble, and The Skinny fave Josie Long with a work-in-progress show about giant extinct animals.

Among the international stars heading to Glasgow, meanwhile, is Canadian standup and Sabrina the Teenage Witch ledge Caroline Rhea. Also look out for American standups Leslie Liao and Krystal Evans, as well as Australian one-off Sam Campbell, who’s coming to Glasgow as part of his first full tour of the UK.

Those are some of the big names, many of which are selling fast if not sold out, but there are many more acts in the programme and loads to discover. With that being said, we asked our comedy editor, Polly Glynn, to choose five under-the-radar picks. Here’s her selection...

Lindsey Santoro: Pink Tinge

Lindsey was nominated for the brilliant Best Newcomer Award at the 2023 Fringe with her debut hour, Pink Tinge. The Brummie comic has recently supported Mummy (Joe Lycett) on his latest tour so we can't wait to catch up on this show we slept on last summer. Old Hairdressers, 15 Mar, 7pm

Amelia Bayler: Easy Second Album (WIP)

Amelia Bayler's been on the Scottish scene for some time now and always brightens up whatever lineup she's on. Expect catchy tunes about cult foods and immaculate vibes. Van Winkle West End, 16 Mar, 8.30pm

Jin Hao Li: Rapping at the Bottom of the Ocean (WIP) 

Once part of the Scottish circuit, Jin Hao Li is now making a name for himself up and down the country. He was last in Scotland as part of the prestigious Pleasance Reserve showcase at the Fringe and has had competition success with BBC New Comedy Award and Chortle Student Comedy Award nominations. We've got a very good feeling about this show. Van Winkle West End, 17 Mar, 3.30pm

Joe Kent-Walters: An Audience with Frankie Monroe (VIP)

Winner of the BBC New Comedy Award 2023, Joe Kent-Walters transforms into Frankie Monroe, an old school working men's comic with a truckload of surrealism. The cream of up-and-coming alternative comedy. Flying Duck, 27 Mar, 6.30pm

Priya Hall: Grandmother's Daughter

One of our favourite shows from last year's Edinburgh Fringe, Priya Hall's excellent Edinburgh debut was a sweetly funny, eye-opening look at fertility as part of a young same-sex couple (and a rockstar Nan). At the time we said "Grandmother’s Daughter is a delightful, upbeat hour of gorgeous storytelling", and we think it's a real hidden gem of this year's GICF. Van Winkle West End, 30 Mar, 3.30pm