From the Fringe to TV and now back to the Fringe.
Before we adored them on television, so many acts we now know and love cut their teeth at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (although not all, of course). With so many returning to the Fringe this year, I've pulled together a list of 22 (of course, there are more) who I think are worth seeing.
1. Al Murray
He's everyone's favourite Pub Landlord and now Al Murray is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe with a brand new show, Gig for Victory.
As the dust settles and we emerge blinking into the dawn of a new year, the men and women of this great country will need answers. Answers that they know they need, answers to questions they never knew existed. And when that moment comes, who better to show the way, to provide those answers, than the people’s man of the people, the Pub Landlord?
Steeped in the deep and ancient barroom wisdom of countless lock-ins, the Pub Landlord is there to show the way, offering people thirsty for common sense a full pint of the good stuff.
2. Basil Brush
2019 was the first time Basil Brush put on a show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and he loved it so much that - aside from a fleeting visit in 2021 - he's returning this year with two shows. One aimed at children and one aimed at adults.
As he approaches his 60th birthday, Basil Brush's Family Fun Show promises something for all the family, with a jam-packed hour full of family-friendly laughs, storytelling and song.
And following a sellout run in 2019, Unleashed and Uncut is back. Expect Basil's trademark anarchy as he takes on the world with everything from Love Island to Westminster getting a comic Brushing. With a different guest every night, this show promises to see Basil doing what he does best with his new show alongside Mr Martin.
3. Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson
You'll recognise Charly Clive from Channel 4 drama Pure and more recently starring opposite Paapa Essiedu in Sky Max drama The Lazarus Project, but what you might not know - unless you watched their excellent BBC Three pilot last November - that together with best friend Ellen Robertson, she's part of a comedy duo called Britney.
Returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe after five years away with a brand new sketch show, Friends and Nothing More, Britney's third Fringe show is about Ellen and Charly’s 15-year friendship and their desire for attention and love. Disclaimer, both are currently single. Disclaimer, both are currently single.
Expect sketches on dating apps and social media, Disney’s 1991 classic Beauty and the Beast, gender reveal parties, and how they both froze on stage at their disastrous Year 11 Christmas Talent Show.
And with the promise of songs, satire and the possibility of adult Heelies, this is a show not to be missed!
4. Frank Skinner
Frank Skinner’s live career began at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987 and four years later in 1991 he returned, beating Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard to take home comedy’s then most prestigious prize, The Perrier Award.
Now over 30 years later, Frank is returning to the Fringe with a brand new hour that follows his recent national tour Showbiz.
5. Frankie Boyle
Returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year is Mock the Week favourite and Frankie Boyle's New World Order host, up - you guessed it, Frankie Boy.e
As part of a continuing physical and mental tailspin, for his new Edinburgh hour, Frankie will suppress his overarching sense of futility and horror to tell jokes for an hour in the final days of organised human life.
It promises to be a show largely about politics, satirising whichever new leaders emerge from the irradiated rubble.
6. Jack Rooke and Jon Pointing
It's quite fitting actually that following the huge success of Big Boys on Channel 4, the show's creator Jack Rooke is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe, where the show first found its feet in his 2015 show Good Grief, with one of the show's stars, Jon Pointing.
Big Boys and Friends is described as a " lil' mixed-bill comedy-cabaret" for the final week of the Fringe.
Together, Jack Rooke and Jon Pointing have gathered some of their good pals from the worlds of comedy and cabaret as well as some brilliant comics from the series for what promises to be a late-night, chilled fun hour.
7. Jayde Adams
After four solo shows in four years, Jayde Adams was forced to take a pandemic-enforced break before returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year with her fifth show Men, I Can Save You.
Her new hour promises to showcase Jayde's intelligent working-class voice as she guides men to salvation the best way she knows how, with sharp humour and telling it like it is.
Since 2019, Jayde's career has seriously taken off, with her own BBC documentary about growing up in Bristol, a regular role in Sophie Willan's BAFTA-winning BBC Two comedy Alma's Not Normal and her 2019 Fringe show was filmed for Prime Video and released worldwide under the title Serious Black Jumper.
8. Jon Courtenay
After winning a very different Britain's Got Talent in 2020, Jon Courtenay is performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year for what will unbelievably be his first time with his unique mix of comedy, music and drama.
Against All Odds promises to explore the true story of his television success while secretly fighting for his life. Audiences will accompany him backstage as he wrestles jokes and jeopardy to survive not only the competition but also to just... survive.
Doctors and nurses, judges and jokers all become players in Jon's musical journey through jubilation, heartache, tumours and television. Reminding you that laughter can be the best medicine, but so can immunotherapy.
9. Jon Culshaw
Jon Culshaw is one of our finest impersonators and at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe he's celebrating and paying homage to much-missed comedy legend, Les Dawson in a new play from writer Tim Whitnall and director Bob Golding, which looks back at his life and career.
Premiering at the Fringe before touring the country, Flying High promises to channel all the emotions such a rich life would procure, gifting the audience with anecdotes, incidents, and insights into Les’ journey, as he travels on Concorde at twice the speed of sound 68,000 feet above the Earth.
With the intent to go beyond and above a basic recount of Dawson’s life, Flying High will explore the themes that paced Les’ life, such as mortality, identity, love, kindness, spiritual beliefs or even ambition.
10. Lost Voice Guy
Since winning Britain's Got Talent in 2018, Lost Voice Guy has kept doing what he loves and that's performing and this year, following a sellout tour is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe with a brand new show.
Since first appearing at Fringe in 2013, a year after taking up comedy, Lost Voice Guy - aside from a two-year enforced pandemic break - has been back every year since.
His new hour Cerebral LOLsy promises to poke fun at his life living as a disabled person in a post-apocalyptic world with his new Geordie accent. Expect tales including the highs of meeting 50% of The Chuckle Brothers to the lows of being called "him off The X Factor".
11. Lou Sanders
Taskmaster champion and Mel Giedroyc's sidekick on Dave's Unforgivable, Lou Sanders is returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with her brand new show, which comes off the back of her biggest live tour to date.
One Word: Wow promises Lou on skates, tales of the time she gave a horse a boner and if you follow her on Instagram, you'll be pleased to know that she'll be bringing her skates!
12. Luke Kempner
Luke Kempner is a regular on Steph's Packed Lunch, lends his voice/s to Spitting Image and when Big Brother was still on television, regularly appeared on Big Brother's Bit on the Side to lend his immaculate impressions and now as the Fringe returns properly, so too does Luke.
Macho Macho Man promises to be an hour of razor-sharp impressions of anyone from Piers Morgan and Boris Johnson to Ted Hastings and Paul Hollywood with Louis Theroux, the cast of Downton Abbey and Jürgen Klopp in between.
As Luke tries to work out what masculinity really means expect tales of struggling to fit in such as the time he turned up to a dance audition in football boots and the time he fell in love with a "cool guy" that sits in the row in front of him at the football!
Will Luke ever become the Macho Macho Man he dreams of? I guess one way to find out is to attend his show!
13. Magical Bones
After reaching the final of Britain's Got Talent in 2019, Magical Bones, real name Richard Essien, attended the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a sellout show that same year and returns to the stage this August with a brand-new, high-energy illusion show.
Soulful Magic promises to bring together powerful illusions with great stories, beautiful music, lots of laughter and of course the coolest break-dance moves. Described as cutting-edge, it'll showcase Bones' ability to effortlessly combine intricate sleight of hand with mesmerizing illusions and jaw-dropping break-dance moves.
With over 10 years of stage work, Magical Bones' new show promises to be quite the spectacle!
14. Nick Helm
Nick Helm has been performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for over 20 years and this year's show What Have Become? promises to be so insightful, so honest, so legitimate that it will fix all of society’s problems.
His new hour questions (rather timely actually) what happens when the survivors of a global pandemic crawl from their fortified boltholes and begin to rebuild society. What is left of them and who amongst them dares to lead them to the light?
Nick is of course best-known to TV audiences for his leading role in BBC comedy Uncle as well as regular appearances on 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.
15. Nish Kumar
First Nish Kumar was the host of The Mash Report on BBC Two, then he hosted its Dave reincarnation, Late Night Mash and as he hands over hosting duties to Rachel Parris for the upcoming series, he's following a nationwide tour with seven nights at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Your Power, Your Control deals with the period of upheaval and uncertainty we've all gone through with Covid as well as the political situation (and a quick scroll of his Twitter feed will let you know that he has A LOT to say).
16. Paul Sinha
If on a weekday evening you've ever switched ITV on, then Paul Sinha will be familiar to you as The Sinnerman, one of the chasers on hit ITV quiz show The Chase as well as its primetime spinoff Beat The Chasers.
Thanks to a stint on Taskmaster, his career as a comedian is now much more widely known than it once was and as he returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a new hour, One Sinnha Lifetime.
The show's title pays reference to the fact that in May 2019, he was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological disorder, Parkinson's Disease and he very much sees this show as his "difficult second post-diagnosis album".
Paul has a story to tell and One Sinha Lifetime promises plenty of jokes and surprises.
17. Phil Wang
Back for just a week of performances, Taskmaster star Phil Wang is returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, following a sellout run in 2019 which sold out before the festival had even begun!
His brand new hour The Real Hero in All This promises to be "an hour of absolute gold" about race, family and everything that’s been going on in his Philly little life.
18. Rachel Parris
Best-known for being part of The Mash Report on BBC Two, Rachel Parris is soon to be hosting the second series of the show's new iteration on Dave, The Late Night Mash following previous host Nish Kumar's exit.
Returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for just four performances of her brand new show, All Change Please is about big life changes and promises stand-up and songs about sudden love, the highs and lows of relationships, family, weddings, kids, going viral, going mental and the baffling state of play in society right now.
19. Robert Bathurst and Rebecca Johnson
Robert Bathurst, star of Cold Feet, Dad's Army: The Lost Episodes and Toast London is returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in a 95-minute play alongside star of The Trip Rebecca Johnson.
Love, Loss and Chianti promises to be a heart-breaking and hilarious double-bill of love and loss, written by Christopher Reid and directed by Jason Morell. Reid's lyrical narrative in both A Scattering and The Song of Lunch will be intertwined with glorious animations by Charles Peattie.
20. Sophie Duker
Current Taskmaster champion and Frankie Boyle's New World Order regular Sophie Duker is returning to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time since her debut show Venus in 2019, with Hag, a show which promises to herald Sophie's own metamorphosis into the confident, cantankerous, magical bitch her twentysomething self would never have dared believe she could be.
Now describing herself as older, wiser and even more deliciously odd, Sophie will discuss her experiences of speaking to the dead, the reason why threesomes are a cheap alternative to couples’ therapy, and the chaotic true story of what happened when Sophie chose to get on a cruise ship with seven hundred older lesbians, leaving her long-suffering boyfriend on shore.
21. Tim Key
Poet, comedian and star of recent BBC comedies The Witchfinder and This Time with Alan Partridge, Tim Key is returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 21 years after his first appearance with the Footlights and 18 years after his solo debut.
Hid brand new hour Mulberry promises ruminations about the great indoors with a bit of stamping around all whilst dressed in a velour tracksuit because yes, this is a show about Lockdown. But if anyone can pull it off, it's Tim Key.
Oh, and of course, there'll be some poetry. Or "poetry" as his blurb for the show reads.
22. Tim Vine
He's won Dave's Best Joke of the Fringe twice, first in 2010 and then again in 2014 and now Not Going Out star Tim Vine is returning to the fringe with a brand new show, which promises a mountain of nonsense, stupid things, unlikely songs, wobbly props, utter drivel and of course, one-liners!
In Breeeep!, Tim’s like the manager of a sweet shop where all the sweets are replaced by jokes, and he serves them in the order he chooses. So, it’s like a sweet shop where the manager just throws sweets at you.