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8 of the most exciting debuts at Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Take note now, before you struggle to get tickets.

One of the best things about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is that feeling you get when you watch someone at the very start of what's clear will be a long career in comedy. I've had that feeling before with the likes of James Acaster and Lolly Adefope, but who are the next generation of comedians you'll find difficult to avoid in the coming years?

I've trawled through this year's Fringe listings and picked 8 of the most exciting comedians making their hour-long debut at this year's festival...

Grace Campbell

Why I'm Never Going Into Politics

Credit: Amelia Allen

As the title of her debut hour might suggest, Grace Campbell is indeed the daughter of former Press Secretary for Downing Street, Alistair Campbell. However eagle-eyed Channel 4 viewers might recognise her as one of the four up-and-coming comedians who starred in hidden camera prank show pilot Riot Girls in May 2018. Aside from comedy, Grace is one of the co-founders of The Pink Protest, a community of activists committed to engaging in action and supporting each other.

On her third birthday, Tony Blair won his first general election and because her father was his spokesman and campaign director, Grace split a lot of her childhood between the local state school she attended in North London and Downing Street.

Now at the age of 25, her debut Edinburgh show is Grace's opportunity to explain to audiences why her childhood and experiences as a young activist, mean she’ll never consider a career in Westminster. Promising to talk about her vagina, mental health in Parliament and hanging out with Putin’s kids, Why I'm Never Going Into Politics is one show not to be missed!

Gilded Balloon Teviot (Wee Room), 31st July - 26th August (not 13th) at 3:15pm. Book tickets here.


Helen Bauer

Little Miss Baby Angel Face

In 2018, Helen Bauer was part of the Pleasance Comedy Reserve which meant she was able to share the bill at the Pleasance Dome with three other up-and-coming comedians hand-picked by The Pleasance. It's also that year that she was nominated for the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year and became a finalist for BBC's New Comedy Award.

Before all that, Helen was a Semi-Finalist in So You Think You’re Funny in 2016, came runner-up for the Max Turner Prize in 2017 and was a Regional Finalist in 2017 for Funny Women. But 2019 is set to be her year as she brings her debut hour, Little Miss Baby Angel Face, to the Pleasance Courtyard.

An hour which promises to be an exploration of Helen’s love for tragic situations and the competitive relationship she has with her Mum. She will also dissect the current climate for Reality TV shows and especially ‘make over’ shows which are her passion and discuss her own paranoia that she is living in the Truman Show!

Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One), 31st July - 25th August (not 14th) at 6pm. Book tickets here.


Jack Gleadow

Mr Saturday Night

In 2018, local lad from Hull, Jack Gleadow was also part of the Pleasance Comedy Reserve which meant he was able to share the bill at the Pleasance Dome with three other up-and-coming comedians hand-picked by The Pleasance. It's also that year that he was named Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year.

Before that he was runner-up at Leicester Square Theatre's Comedian of the Year competition and runner-up at Chortles Student Comedy Awards and was named Hull Comedian of the Year in 2016. But 2019 is already shaping up to be a great year for Jack as his debut solo Edinburgh run follows recent nominations for Chortle's Best Newcomer and Leicester Comedy Festival's Best New Show.

Taking influence from the likes of Norman Wisdom, Bruce Forsyth and Lee Evans, Jack's debut hour Mr Saturday Night is a love letter to the entertainers of the past and comedy’s traditional beginnings with Saturday night TV that had something for everyone. It details his unique story of growing up and falling in love with performing all told through sounds, stories and jokes... and even a scooter!

Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Below), 31st July - 25th August (not 12th) at 5:45pm. Book tickets here.


Kelly Convey

Telephone Voice

If you're a fan of First Dates (and who isn't?) then you might recognise Kelly Convey as the comedian who went on a date in 2017 only to be told by her date that being a comedian "isn't a fucking job", that "men are funnier" and that female comedians are often "quite fat and unattractive". You won't be shocked to hear that there wasn't a second date.

Within the first six months of pursuing a career in comedy, Kelly reached the final of So You Think You're Funny? in 2016, in less than twelve months she had signed to Off The Kerb who also look after Jack Dee, Jo Brand and Michael McIntyre and in 2017 was nominated for Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year.

As well as tour support for Alan Carr and Russell Kane, Kelly is determined to make 2019 her year as she heads to Edinburgh with her debut hour Telephone Voice, which sees her travel back in time to her errant teenage years, through her high-flying twenties as an executive, right up to the life-changing decision to become a comedian in her thirties.

Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One), 31st July - 25th August (not 14th) at 7pm. Book tickets here.


Michael Odewale

In 2018, Michael Odewale was part of the Pleasance Comedy Reserve which meant that he was able to share the bill at the Pleasance Dome during Edinburgh with three other up-and-coming comedians hand-picked by The Pleasance.

Before that, Michael was a finalist in Chortle's Student Comedy Award and BBC's New Comedy Award in 2016, was listed on BBC's New Talent Hot List in 2017 and performed on Chris Ramsey's Stand Up Central. His debut Edinburgh show #BlackBearsMatter has already picked up an award, winning Best New Show at 2019’s Leicester Comedy Festival. So that's a pretty good indication that he's going to have a fantastic run in Edinburgh.

Described as a "fresh new voice" in comedy, Michael's debut hour is about figuring out what we care about and what we are actually willing to do about it as we live in a world full of seemingly endless socio-political issues and protest movements. Throughout the hour he will guide audiences through his relationships and deepest fears, our collective attitudes and misplaced stereotypes... and he'll even tackle your favourite cartoon bears.

Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two), 31st July - 25th August (not 12th) at 5:30pm. Book tickets here.


Sophie Duker


If you recognise Grace Campbell from Channel 4 pilot Riot Girls, then chances are you'll also recognise Sophie Duker who starred alongside her in the hilarious hidden camera prank show. In 2017, she was part of the Pleasance Comedy Reserve which meant that she was able to share the bill at the Pleasance Dome during Edinburgh with three other up-and-coming comedians hand-picked by The Pleasance.

But that wasn't the first time Sophie performed at the Fringe, in 2016 and 2017 Sophie performed in an international, intersectional feminist comedy show called Manic Pixie Dream Girls. She is also the host and founder of Wacky Racists, a hybrid stand-up/cabaret/audience gameshow, which has a London residency and so far this year has appeared on 8 Out of 10 Cats and Frankie Boyle's New World Order.

In her debut hour, Venus, Sophie will critique our continued fascination with ‘exotic’ bodies. In the context of white Western women using black children as props on Instagram, pornography categories such as ‘African princess’ and the nation’s love-hate attitude to the Duchess of Sussex, Sophie explores the reality (for some women) of being both despised and fetishised. She'll also discuss her unresolved daddy issues.

Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Below), 31st July - 25th August (not 14th) at 7pm. Book tickets here.


Steff Todd

Reality Check

Without an Edinburgh hour under her belt, Yorkshire-born impressionist Steff Todd is already doing pretty well for herself, having amassed hundreds of thousands of views worldwide including a number of viral videos featuring impressions of the Love Island contestants, Cheryl and Katie Price. And it's this exposure that helped her secure her first television acting role in Scarborough, Derren Litten's new sitcom for BBC One, in which she plays a character called Jess.

Steff is no stranger to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe having performed in 2017 as part of CKP’s Lunchtime Special and in 2018 as part of a sellout double-bill of stand up. As well as that Steff has supported the likes of Sara Pascoe, Dave Gorman, Rob Delaney and Iain Stirling on stage.

But what about 2019? Well, Steff's debut hour Reality Check promises to be a mix of hilarious stand-up, razor sharp one-liners and amazing celebrity impressions. And if her online videos are anything to go by, then audiences are in for a real treat!

Just the Tonic at the Caves (Just Out of the Box), 1st - 25th August (not 12th) at 2pm. Book tickets here.


Travis Jay

Funny, Petty, Cool

It's taken Travis Jay 10 years since starting out in comedy to bring his debut hour to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but after winning the JumpOff TV Comedy competition in 2012, being nominated for Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year in 2016 and performing alongside his hero Dave Chappelle in 2018, Travis believes that 2019 is the right time to make his mark on the industry.

Travis is following in the footsteps of her mother Angie Le Mar, herself a successful stand-up comedian and star of nineties BBC Two sketch show The Real McCoy. Having watched his mother perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe back in 1994, 2019 marks 25-years since Travis was last at the festival, albeit as a young boy.

His debut hour Funny, Petty, Cool will explore the time he accidentally became leader of a Black Lives Matter protest, his South London upbringing and offer a raw look at the impact of his grandfather passing. Audiences can expect both a deeply personal and side- splitting socio-political insight in to his world to date.

Just the Tonic at The Mash House (Just the Attic), 1st - 25th August (not 12th & 16th) at 2:35pm. Book tickets here.

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