Fringe Cut: Best of the Northwest in Edinburgh

Every August our friends in the North ruthlessly steal all of our comedians for an entire month. Frankly, it’s not on. Still, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites from the Northwest circuit you should check out if you head to Edinburgh for the Fringe

Feature by John Stansfield | 30 Jul 2014
  • Katie Mulgrew

If you feel a little homesick in the Scottish capital then you might want to check out Caimh McDonnell’s show called Southbound and Down (see end of article for all venues, dates and times), all about his disastrous relocation from Manchester to London. The white-haired Irishman’s anecdotes about his ill fated sojourn are energetically delivered and hit on a level familiar to those who’ve had to move for work and soon realised it was a terrible, terrible mistake.

Phil Ellis aims to top last year’s intentional trainwreck of a show Unplanned Orphan with his new show Funz and Gamez. A kids' show. From Phil Ellis. Just let that sink in for a moment. It could be the best thing since Rainbow. Or it could be an unmitigated disaster. Either way it will certainly a spectacle to behold. For young and old.

A couple of our past Spotlight picks will also be represented at the Fringe: Rachel Fairburn’s show All the Fun of the Fairburn sees her deliver some home truths about life in the Fairburn clan and their symbiotic relationship with misery; while also heading up are three-headed sketch beast Gein’s Family Giftshop with their show Volume 1, in what we hope is the beginning of an epic collection of shows.

Fellow sketchers and Gein’s mortal enemies Staple/face are following their nemeses to the Fringe with a show called Staple/face are... Going Down Fighting, which hopefully won’t end in the bloody scrap between the two warring factions of skitting.

Liverpool’s purveyors of free comedy nights will be selfishly taking their altruism up to PBH’s Free Fringe, as Another Comedy Night’s David Alnwick takes the wonderfully titled Totally Ninja Magic Show and his new stand-up show Totally Ninja Naked to Voodoo Rooms, and Alastair Clark’s Vote Russell Brand – another free show, at Cabaret Voltaire – takes his attention away from the Shiny New Comedy Lab. Clark examines Brand’s effect on the future of British politics via his call to apathy.

The man responsible for the bulk of free comedy in Manchester through his many-faceted Dead Cat Comedy shows, Red Redmond, will also be Scotland-bound for the month of August as he debuts his show Blue. With boundless energy and razor-sharp wit, Redmond’s show has been previewed to great acclaim so far – though let’s hope he doesn’t get too successful and start charging in for his wonderful gigs.

There's a wealth of regulars on the Northwest circuits whose exploits will be missed on the stages around the area: Adam Rushton, Lou Conran, Mick Ferry (who also has an inspired cameo in Phil Ellis’ kids' show as drunk Uncle Mick), Danny McLoughlin, Dave Williams, Hayley Ellis and many more all have shows at the Fringe. Preston’s Dan Nightingale is 'Trying His Best Not to Be a Dick’ with his usual risqué and hilarious results, and Katie Mulgrew wins the prize for best poster (Cinderella eating a Pot Noodle is both delightfully endearing and quite gross) for her show Happily Ever After, about what comes next when the dream wedding is over and the lovely massive frock goes back in the cupboard. The answer may well be massive exposure at the world’s biggest arts festival for a very talented act. 

A quiet month for Liverpool and Manchester’s comedy scenes is anything but for those who help make it what it is.

Venues, dates and times:

Caimh McDonnell, Southbound and Down, Cabaret Voltaire, 2-11, 13-18, 20-23 Aug, 1.20pm

Phil Ellis, Funz and Gamez, The Mash House, 31 Jul, 1-11, 13-24 Aug, 2pm

Rachel Fairburn, All the Fun of the Fairburn, Jekyll & Hyde, 31 Jul, 1-18, 20-24 Aug, 12.45pm

Gein’s Family Giftshop, Volume 1, Pleasance Courtyard, 30-31 Jul, 1-10, 12-24 Aug, 10.45pm

Staple/face are... Going Down Fighting, 30-31 Jul, 1-11, 13-25 Aug, Gilded Balloon, 4pm

David Alnwick, Totally Ninja Magic Show, Voodoo Rooms, 3-24 Aug, 12.30pm; Totally Ninja Naked, The Globe, 3-24 Aug, 8.30pm

Alastair Clark, Vote Russell Brand, Cabaret Voltaire, 2-23 Aug, 7.35pm

Red Redmond, Blue, The Southsider, 2-23 Aug, 8.15pm

Dan Nightingale, …is Trying His Best Not to Be a Dick, Pleasance Dome, 30-31 Jul, 1-10, 12-24 Aug, 5.30pm

Katie Mulgrew, Happily Ever After, Gilded Balloon, 30-31 Jul, 1-11, 13-24 Aug, 8pm