The Best of the Edinburgh Fringe 2015: Comedy
After reviewing 206 shows and seeing flip knows how many more for fun, we asked our intrepid comedy writers to whittle their picks of the Fringe down to a top three.
"This Fringe was full of surprises: I was pretty downbeat going into Miss Behave's Game Show but left elated. I also never expected the delicious slice of feminism served up in James Hamilton is so Lonely. Off-schedule I didn't think I could fall even more in love with Jonny and the Baptists but I did just that during The End is Nigh. A great wee fringe had by all." [Jenni Ajderian]
"Liam Williams' Bonfire Night was both intellectual and visceral from a very funny lad – he doesn’t so much embody the malaise of the millennial as utterly become it. Then there was the real statement of intent delvered by Richard Gadd in Waiting For Gaddot, an hour of high concept, multimedia madness that was ambitious, rewarding and grimly charismatic. Beard's The Grin Of Love was a wonderfully absurd sketch show from Matilda Wnek and Rosa Robson, full of set-pieces that connects with the imagination of the audience." [Craig Angus]
"Waiting For Gaddot was a perfect Edinburgh show: clever, unpredictable, in-yer-face and very very funny. Meanwhile, everyone's favourite nerd Daniel Kitson took on technology and won with his sparky, clever playlet Polyphony which swallows it's own tail. Even when it wasn't working it was fun. Finally, Max & Ivan's The End was a slick show in which the town of Sudley-on-Sea is crafted in front of your eyes then destroyed with relish." [Stu Black]
"I was forbidden from committing my opinions of certain performances in print on the following grounds: "If you've been to a sex club with a comedian, you're not allowed to review them". Apparently this is Russia. So I spent most of the Fringe in the Loft Bar at the Gilded Balloon watching agents hunt comedians for sport and pretending to write a feature. But, I went to see Jo-Jo Bellini's This and That: A Late Night Tasty Delight. It was an amazing show where Jo-Jo took food-porn, cabaret, cooking and Tom Jones to erotic new levels. The Wrestling III was simply the greatest spectacle ever. It was a one-off performance, mostly because I assume a majority of the comedians probably died while making it, but hopefully will come back again for a fourth time another year. And the surprise slice of Fringe awesomeness came right at the end for me with Andrew Bridge, whose AART workshop, buried in the very bowels of Dropkick Murphys, sent me away feeling spiritually enriched and smelling of plasticine. I can't heap enough praise on a genuinely joyful, hilarious and reflective show." [Fred Fletch]
"this year i have seen many briliant lists about the fringe ,like "most briliant joke", "best beer sponsord joke", "most exelent comedy shows i ever seen", and so on . all these feature briliant 5star comedians ,who all have crafted amazin shows with love and care and tireless dedication . but for me ,it would be imposible to say my top 3 shows !! for each and evry show is a little fringe moment and a precious memory to keep forever ,even the ones which are a complete mess !! so whether your show is in a list or not ,you are a 5star briliant . keep creating amazin work and be happy and proud of what you do !!" [love from fringe dog] .
"Twisted Loaf's Stale Mate was a consistently fucked up and dirty sketch show with a bite; the bottom line is that no other show this year made me want a shower when I got home. It was also inevitable that the competitive Fringe would eventually manifest as full gladiatorial combat, and no star ratings or shiny mantelpiece dressing can substitute for victory at The Wrestling III. It's the ultimate peer-approved comic award ceremony: believe the hype – this is the most entertaining night you can have in August. Michael Legge's Tell It Like It Is, Steve was the year’s best award-baiting hour, and a comic at the peak of his powers. This was storytelling that’s honest, a touch melancholy, a bit angry, and spit-take funny – he’s never been better." [Tony Makos]
"You never really know what you are going to get at a Tony Law show. It can be satirical, surreal, dark, or he can talk about a fly that distracted him for ten minutes (this happened during Frillemorphesis and it was just as hilarious as anything else he talked about). Bridget Christie's A Book for Her was funny and insightful. She makes me breath a sigh of relief that proper politically minded comedy is still a thing. Finally, the spectacle of middle-aged comedians without shirts on, wrestling actual pro wrestlers that shouldn't work, but does! The Wrestling III was complete fun and a great atmosphere." [James McColl]
"We were often sent to shows based on our interests this year. As a keen kayaker I looked forward to Adam Riches's sports movie spoof and it didn't disappoint. I loved Coach Coach and found Riches knocking on an open door to my sense of humour – it was everything I find funny in one auditorium. Ten Seconds with The Pin was really smart stuff and well worth seeking out again. It was also lovely to see such a genuinely optimistic comic as Alex Edelman. His show Everything Handed To You wasn't mean, derisive, or 'ironic', but homespun and warm, without being twee, and full of great, funny wee tales." [Cara McNamara].
"Richard Gadd's Waiting For Gaddot was the most inventive show of the Fringe and certainly one of the funniest – Gadd wuz robbed at the main awards. Also deserving of a medal for the sheer endurance test of his show about cycling and fallen idols, Kieran Hodgson’s Lance had a big heart to go along with the huge laughs. I also caught up with Dr Professor Neal Portenza’s Catchy Show Title. Although never sure what was real and what was fake in this ramshackle prop/clown/stand-up interactive bonanza, one thing was for sure; Portenza is a future Edinburgh star." [John Stansfield]
"Beth Vyse managed to keep As Funny as Cancer in the comedy section while keeping the story of her diagnosis and treatment honest. Vyse showed uncommon skill in keeping the tonal shifts and changes of mood housed in the same hour with such fluency. Sofie Hagen didn't put a foot wrong in Bubblewrap: her boyband obsession captured the heaven and hell that is adolescence, her love of Westlife making for a surprisingly relatable show. I finally caught up with Idil Sukan's This Comedian photography exhibition on the last day having missed it in London earlier in the year. As well as the sophisticated and tailored images, the exhibition also acts as a first class record of contemporary comedy from the artist who most understands it." [Ben Venables]