Debutante's Ball: Edinburgh Fringe Debuts

New comedy? One ticket please! Here’s our top picks from the hunners of acts making their debuts at Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Feature by Polly Glynn | 02 Aug 2022
  • August Issue 199 Cover

New comedy means new voices, new perspectives and new ways of making us laugh. There’s something electrifying about discovering a brand new act that you can’t wait to brag about to your pals and this year, we’ve got a bumper crop. Plenty of these comics have been queuing round the corner (socially distanced of course) for Edinburgh since 2020, with even more honing their acts online and in pub basements down to August’s wire.

Scott(ish) Acts

Working their way up and down the country, these acts have been raising the roof amongst local crowds and we’re so excited that visitors to the Fringe will get to see them here first. Over at Monkey Barrel, a venue adept at championing both Scotland-based acts and the lion’s share of brilliant alternative comedians, are Amy Matthews (Carnivore 1, 4-28 Aug, not 15, 2.35pm) and Krystal Evans (The Studio, 4-28 Aug, not 16, 3.10pm). Matthews details her fight with main-character-syndrome, while straight-talking, sardonic Evans finds the humour in tragic events, including losing everything in a house fire.

Piano man Chris Iskander (Laughing Horse @ City Cafe, 4-28 Aug, 8.40pm) will regale you with lyrical delights about being a manly man, swans and Jeffrey Epstein. Edinburgh-born ex-pro golfer Hannah Fairweather also makes her debut (Just the Tonic at The Caves, 4-28 Aug, not 15, 2.25pm) and new local Sam Lake, who moved to Edinburgh over lockdown, presents his first hour all about his recent nuptials (Pleasance Courtyard (Cellar), 3-28 Aug, not 16, 9.50pm). Liam Farrelly (Just the Tonic Nucleus (Sub-Atomic Room), 4-28 Aug, not 15 or 22, 7.10pm) also makes his first much anticipated hour-long appearance at Fringe. The young Glaswegian seems to get better and better with each gig. If you like no-nonsense gutsy punchlines, Farrelly’s for you.

High Praise

There’s a huge number of acts making their way to Edinburgh who’ve already had a little attention by making the finals of some of the most prestigious UK comedy competitions. Out of this pocket of comedians, there’s four we think you need to see. Erika Ehler (Monkey Barrel (Carnivore 1), 3-28 Aug, 9.40pm), the author of this month’s ICYMI, won the Chortle Student Comedy Award in 2019, and a week later took part in the So You Think You’re Funny Grand Final. Her style is boundary-pushing anti-comedy and we can’t wait to see how she turns it into her first hour.

So You Think You’re Funny also brought Danielle Walker (Assembly George Square Studios (Studio 4), 3-18 Aug, not 15, 3.35pm) and Morgan Rees (Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One), 3-28 Aug, 6.10pm) to our attention. The former is a sweet and disarming Australian who came runner-up when Heidi Regan won the title in 2016, while Rees followed hot on the heels of Maisie Adam when she won in 2017. In the same August, Rees also played the final of the BBC New Comedy Awards and has honed his skill with writing credits on Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats and the Uncle Roger vids with Nigel Ng. A mention should also go to Ali Woods (Underbelly Bristo Sq (Clover), 3-28 Aug, not 15, 5.25pm) who surely has big things ahead with his energetic club comedy which won him Hackney Empire New Comedian of the Year.

Breaking Out

You might recognise the next few acts from their previous successes at the Fringe, but this time they’re going it alone. Liz Kingsman (Traverse 1, 16-28 Aug, not 22, 10pm) has already wowed London crowds with her meta show-about-a-show. It’s a little more theatrical than her Massive Dad days and far removed from the stand-up of her sketchmates Tessa Coates and Stevie Martin – we can’t wait to see it.

Swinging into the absurd is Julia Masli in her first solo outing. Previously seen in word-of-mouth wonder Legs, her show CHOOSH! Is set to be all sorts of clowny goodness from The Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality winner. Finally, those two mucky pups from The Delightful Sausage both make a break for it this year: Amy Gledhill (Monkey Barrel (Carnivore 2), 4-28 Aug, not 17, 3.30pm) aims to give us a feel-good hour about dancing and resilience whilst Chris Cantrill (Monkey Barrel (Studio), 3-28 Aug, not 17, 4.20pm) explores the tender relationship between him and his young son.

An Alternative

We’re delighted to have a swathe of non-stand-ups join the Fringe for the first time. Over lockdown Nic Sampson (Pleasance Courtyard (Cellar), 3-28 Aug, not 15, 4.40pm) became obsessed with the 1904 Olympic Marathon (bit niche, but no-one can be blamed for what they did over a global pandemic) and re-enacts the event in his debut hour. The eagle-eyed amongst you may recognise Sampson’s name from his co-writer credit on Rose Matefeo’s Starstruck so we have very high hopes.

Kylie Brakeman (Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Nip), 3-28 Aug, not 17, 7pm), who’s already found success on socials @deadeyebrakeman, arrives in Edinburgh as Linda Hollywood, Hollywood Agent (think Bibi from Frasier or Jane Plough from Matt Berry’s Toast) and a cavalcade of hopeful wannabes. We also have viral sketch stars BriTANick (Assembly George Sq (The Box), 3-28 Aug, not 17, 7.45pm) (the faux pas sketch is good if you wanted to link) making their first appearance at the Fringe, alongside Sami Abu Wardeh (Underbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly), 4-18 Aug, not 15, 8.10pm) who has already made several ‘one-to-watch’ lists with his high-energy clowning.

How haven’t they debuted yet?

Thanks to the pandemic, there’s been a backlog of THREE YEARS' worth of debut shows including a fair few names which might make you think "I’m sure they’ve already done Edinburgh?" One of these is our big interview guest, Sikisa (Pleasance Courtyard (Below), 3-28 Aug, not 17, 8.25pm). She’s been on the London circuit for a while and already counts Fern Brady as a top fan. Likewise, Celya AB (Pleasance Courtyard (Attic), 3-29 Aug, not 16, 7.15pm) has made a huge impact on the scene already. From appearances on the Guilty Feminist Podcast and being tour support for the incomparable Maria Bamford and, strangely enough, ethereal indie starlet St. Vincent, her debut hour focuses on her move from Paris to the next best city of romance, Birmingham.

Thanyia Moore (Monkey Barrel (Carnivore 1), 3-28 Aug, not 17, 6.50pm) promises us simply an hour of straight-up stand-up after the stress of the last few years in Just Being Funny, while Chloe Petts (Pleasance Coutyard (Upstairs), 3-28 Aug, not 15, 6pm), is fresh from her first UK tour and supporting Ed Gamble nationwide. Finally, Emmanuel Sonubi (Underbelly Bristo Sq (Dairy Room), 3-29 Aug, not 15, 6.10pm) who’s already headlined Live At The Apollo with his effortless storytelling and anecdotes from his previous life as a London bouncer.

We also have raucous comedy-cabaret from two of the biggest Drag Acts on the planet. Gracing us with their presence are Jinkx Monsoon (Assembly George Sq Gardens (Palais du Variete), 6-21 Aug, not 10 or 15, 8.10pm) and Bianca Del Rio (Pleasance at EICC (Lomond), 18-26 Aug, not 22, 9.30pm). Expect outrageous stories and songs from Ms. Monsoon whilst Del Rio stuns with her exclusive brand of insult comedy.

It would also be neglectful to not include the fleeting Fringe visits from two surreal US gals. Patti Harrison (Pleasance Courtyard (Forth), 3-15 Aug, 8.30pm) is guaranteed to bring armfuls of offbeat charm to the Courtyard cobbles, as well as some real big deal hype. And in the weirdest, dreamiest relay team, Sarah Sherman (Gilded Balloon Teviot (Billiard Room), 15-21 Aug, 10.30pm) is passed the baton the day Harrison finishes her run. Expect grotesquely, screamingly funny stuff from the current SNL cast member who seems to have given the longtime sketch show a real rocket up the arse.