Where to find the Cowgatehead comedians

There was a row before this year's Fringe even started. It left many comedians venueless and searching for a new home: The Skinny seeks out the whereabouts of the 'Cowgatehead refugees'.

Feature by Stu Black | 07 Aug 2015

If you are flicking through the official Fringe brochure – just put it down and back away. We need to address the niggling issue that there are around 100 incorrect listings following the so-called Cowgatehead fiasco. It’s not worth getting into the murk of who said what and to whom but this sorry catalogue of claim and counterclaim makes Game of Thrones look like a village fete.

Yet while a hundred comics seemed to have been unceremoniously kicked out of their venue, the row did at least spawn this amusing video game by James Veitch and the mother of all Downfall parodies by Stu Turner. Yet despite a petition urging the Fringe Society to step in to end all the uncertainty, and an anticipated resolution meeting that never materialised, the outcast centurions had to reapply to the very venue they could no longer call home. 

Luckily, however, other fringe organisations stepped-in and many comedians have found shelter. Comedy fans just can't rely on the official Fringe brochure and are better advised to go to the Fringe website. But let’s simply give you a quick overview of where to start your search:

Just the Tonic @ The Caves

Housing the most displaced Cowgatehead comedians are Just the Tonic, with over 15 artists mostly taking over rooms arranged at the last minute at the flagship venue. For example, Annie McGrath and Nico Tatrowicz, Brydie Lee-Kennedy, Cassandra and others move in to Just Out the Box; meanwhile Becky Brunning and Bethan Roberts, Daphna Baram, and Justin Panks move to the aptly named Just the Spare Room; and Huntingdon and Hutt, and Katia Kvinge are in Just Up the Road. And they are joined of course by two shows about cats: David Tsono' Walking the Cat and the wise Simon Caine's Buddhism and Cats – a winning combination to lower the artists' blood pressure. We just hope Fringe Dog will approve. 

Pleasance Courtyard

As the Free Fringe is something of a contrast to what the 'Big 4' venues are sometimes perceived to represent, it is perhaps ironic that Pleasance rescued seven of the acts. The Courtyard is staying open to host Free After Midnight and welcome, among others, Brendan Murphy, for his absurdist BAGMAN show about the content of carry-alls, sketch duos KINGS! and Twins, and sketch trio Birthday Girls – who will arrive later in the month but are sure to get the party started. 

Laughing Horse

A handful of comedians were helped out by the other free fringe organisation run by Alex Petty: Laughing Horse. They have relocated to the northern side of the Fringe where The Stand and related venues have most shows. But it's in Laughing Horse's Jekyll and Hyde where Adam Vincent, the show Bombs, Booze and Haggis, and Gone with the Inflatable Colonel can be found.


As the Downfall parody video concludes, there are those that decided they had no other option but to call in the very last resort: Bob Slayer. Michael Brunström's show The Golden Age of Steam moves to The Hive – presumably Bob felt a show that has a train topic would be inappropriate for his BlundaBus. Although the bus is the place to find Christian Talbot's show Cheaper than Therapy.


Though it is perhaps little consolation, the organisation that believed they had booked the Cowgatehead venue originally are now programming the New Waverley Arches along with a couple of other venues. This venue will soon metamorphose into a monster shopping complex though, so it should be seen while it is a utopia of comedy. Kishore Nayer Has a Go, Bisha K Ali, Comfort and Joy and Matthew Collins can be found here. 


Then there are the many that managed to tether themselves to the original venue. Jo Burke: iScream starts with her stressful experience of the Fringe last year. No doubt this fiasco has given her plenty more of that kind of material to work with. Dan Fardell's At Least 100 Jokes is also still here and we hope someone is counting. Also there are those that moved in from St John's – the other venue that was sucked into this vortex. Rachel Fairburn, for example, is a comedian so fearless she moved in to the cursed building. But what else would we expect from Fairburn? The All Killa No Filla podcast is about serial killers after all.

The EdFringe website and app should now have correct listings and we also recommend the British Comedy Guide as an indispensible guide for the most up-to-date information. With special thanks to Jo Burke for putting The Skinny in touch with the Cowgatehead Facebook group. http://www.edfringe.com