Gilded Balloon reveals full Edinburgh Fringe programme

There are Fringe comebacks for Craig Ferguson and Angus Deayton, Sage Francis and B. Dolan bring their brand of indie-rap, there’s a Belle & Sebastian musical (kinda) and Eric Andre brings his stand-up to Edinburgh for the first time

Article by Jamie Dunn | 16 May 2019
  • Akala

The Fringe is so close we can almost taste the overpriced Scandinavian-inspired lager. The big venues are revealing their Fringe line-ups left right and centre, and the latest to show what cards they’ve got is Gilded Balloon, who reveal their 250 odd shows planned for August, their biggest ever. To squeeze in all these acts, Gilded Balloon have added two new venues: Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (on Chambers Street, with the bar run by one of our faves, Paradise Palms) and Gilded Balloon at Old Tolbooth Market.

On to the massive programme, then. The first show to draw us in looks like it'll deliver a bit of fierce debate among the frivolity of the Fringe: Akala’s “In Conversation” event Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire. We’re told the show will include discussions about the topics raised in the rapper, journalist, author, activist and poet’s celebrated memoir of the same name. “Akala is one of the most important voices in Britain today,” notes the release, “and an increasingly essential one as society’s polarised tribalism deepens.” Based on his Edinburgh Book Festival appearance last year, we expect this to be a vital show – there's also a chance to hear Akala's firey hip-hop at Liquid Rooms this Fringe. 

Elsewhere among the eclectic programme you’ll find Craig Ferguson. The Scottish standup and former host of The Late Late Show makes his return to the Fringe for a special one-off gig at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Also making an Edinburgh comeback is former Have I Got News For You host Angus Deayton, who’s back at the Fringe to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of radio sketch show Radio Active, performing a new selection of classic scripts live with some of the original cast members.

We recommend you’re quick to snap up tickets for Eric Andre: The Stand Up Tour. His anarchic Adult Swim talk show, The Eric Andre Show, has a feverish fan base, so tickets for this one-off Fringe performance will be like gold dust come August. Andre is making his Fringe debut, and a fellow newbie is Jessie Ware, who’ll be here with a live version of her popular podcast Table Manners, which stars the singer and her mother, Lennie.

Sage Francis and B Dolan – aka the Epic Beard Men – bring their bespoke brand of rap poetry to town for one night only. Another eye-catching show is Politics for Bitches (The Extended Cut) from Birmingham-based standup Luisa Omielan, which is described as “an uncut and uncensored redux of her critically-acclaimed, sell-out 2018 show."

We’re intrigued by If You’re Feeling Sinister, the play with songs based on Belle & Sebastian’s iconic album of the same name (more here), as well as a one-man Julius Caesar from Fringe stalwart Andrew Maxwell. Called Julius ‘Call me Caesar’ Caesar, we're told the Shakespeare classic will be reimagined as a comic tale of democracy and back-stabbing.

There are plenty of other Fringe regulars heading to Gilded Balloon venues this year, among them Zoe Lyons, Tommy Tiernan, Jay Lafferty, Ronni Ancona, Jojo Sutherland, Tom Stade, Lost Voice Guy, Gingzilla, Phil Nichol and Mike McShane in Hughie.

“We truly have something for everyone” said Katy and Karen Koren, Directors of Gilded Balloon, “and we still have a few more surprises up our sleeves!”

Watch this space for more of those announcements, and head to for the full 250-show line-up.