10 Acts Not to Miss at the Edinburgh Fringe This Year

by Oscar La-Gambina, Jul 03, 2018

Edinburgh is taken over every year by some of the country’s best comedians, magicians, musicians and theatre performances.

By taken over, we mean that, not only are theatres used as venues, but bars, cafés and even people’s kitchens are taken over by this festival fever for the entirety of August.

Tickets are only around £10 for most acts and everything is usually all in the same place in the city, and usually most residents in the city flee for August to allow artists and visitors to stay there instead. It’s one of the best atmospheres in the entertainment industry!

So many great names cut their teeth at the Fringe, such as Michael McIntyre, Rowan Atkinson and Eddie Izzard. It’s a great place to experience Scottish culture, some top-class comedy, and some deep-fried Mars Bars, so with that in mind, we’ve collated some of the best acts you should see if you’re heading up to the Fringe this year.

Pete Firman: Marvels

Dates: August 1-26
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Tickets available here.

Described as “the poster boy of comedy magic”, Pete Firman is the perfect definition of how illusions and humour go hand in hand. This will be his 11th show performing at the Fringe and he’s one of the most established names in the city this summer.

You may recognise him from BBC’s The Magicians, Channel 4’s Dirty Tricks, ITV’s The Next Great Magician, and his many appearances on chat shows such as Sarah Millican and John Bishop. His show this year, entitled ‘Marvels’, is certain to be proof of his unique live experience.

His shows in the past have included some spectacular predictions, mind-bending card tricks and some laugh-out-loud comedy. Those of you who are familiar with the ways of the magic world will still find something new in his show, and for those of you who are just getting interested in it, Pete Firman is the perfect place to start.

Classic tricks are reinvented and coupled with a completely new way of presenting them to an audience, and there is no other magician on the circuit right now quite like him.

Iain (Stirling) Does Jokes (with pals)

Dates: August 22-24
Venue: Pleasance at EICC
Tickets available here.

In the unlikely event that this is news to you, Iain Stirling is the voice of Love Island. You may also recognise his Scottish accent from his days at CBBC, presenting the continuity bits in between shows with Hacker T. Dog. Along with the strong nostalgic element to his set and, of course, potentially the biggest reality show about right now, Iain Stirling is also a damn good comedian.

He recently performed his own show at the Hammersmith Apollo and is midway through a gigantic tour of the UK, but you should definitely check him out at the Fringe this summer.

His show this year is a bit different, though. Instead of him headlining, he’s hosting three nights in a row at the fringe featuring 30 of the best comedians around. It’s one of the only opportunities you will get to see the best talent from across Edinburgh this summer all in one place in one night.

It’s a night of different comedians hosted by the voice of your childhood and now the voice of your uni life, what’s not to love?

Piff the Magic Dragon and the Dog Who Knows

Dates: August 16-26
Venue: The Stand’s New Town Theatre
Tickets available here.

We said comedy and magic go hand in hand with Pete Firman. Piff the Magic Dragon is that plus a dragon suit. We recently got access backstage at Piff’s huge nightly residency show at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas for an interview with him, which you can check out here.

Another quirky fact about Piff’s career is that he supported Mumford and Sons on tour. He also made it to the final on America’s Got Talent and often performs with Las Vegas and general magic legends Penn & Teller (Penn plays his dad, Pop the Magic Dragon). They got to know each other after he was on the first series of former ITV and now American CW show Penn & Teller: Fool Us, which is available to watch on Netflix.

There’s probably enough proof here to convince you to head down and check him out. If you’re still not satisfied, he has a pet dog with him during his act called Mr Piffles, ‘the world’s only magic performing Chihuahua.’ Mr Piffles reads minds, shoots out of cannons, and falls asleep on stage. What more could you ask for?

Behind the dragon suit, Piff (real name John Van Der Put) is also an incredible magician, as said so by Penn & Teller themselves. He’s also a fantastic showman and his stage presence is one of the best in the entertainment business right now. Piff will make you feel relaxed while messing with your head and holding a cute dog. Make sure you get tickets for ‘Piff the Magic Dragon and the Dog Who Knows.’

Mr Swallow and the Vanishing Elephant 

Dates: August 1-26
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Tickets available here.

Is that name not enough? Nick Mohammed's character Mr Swallow is back at the fringe and is by himself for the first time in six years. He's recreated Dracula in 'Mr Swallow: The Musical' and he's freed himself from iron chains in 'Mr Swallow: Houdini'. This year, it's bigger. Much bigger. Elephant-y bigger. Head down to the show to see Mr Swallow's loyal elephant assistant Hayley disappear. Hopefully.

Nick Mohammed/Mr Swallow has recently landed roles in Collateral and will star in Christopher Robin as Piglet, and he'll also be in The Kid Who Would Be King. You'd recognise him from Sorry! I've Got No Head and his other sporadic roles in several BBC shows, but this is him (and his elephant) as you've never seen them before.

100 Things - Nick Harper

Dates: August 13-21
Venue: The Jazz Bar
Tickets available here.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival isn’t all about magic and comedy. There are some amazing musicians who perform in the city as well, such as Nick Harper. His father is legendary folk-rock singer-songwriter Roy Harper, who has worked with the likes of Pink Floyd, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and Kate Bush in the past.

Nick has a huge back catalogue of over 100 acoustic folk tracks, and he’s hand-picked the best of them to play at the Fringe this summer. He’s been described as the ‘Acoustic Hendrix’ and has been endorsed by BBC Radio 6 Music. Having performed around the world and mixed his own songs with covers of some of the biggest rock songs ever created, Nick knows how to put on a good show.

Ivo Graham: Motion Sickness

Dates: August 1-12, 14-26
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Tickets available here.

A relatively new name on the comedic scene but no less brilliant, Ivo Graham has appeared on Mock the Week, Live at the BBC, Live at the Apollo and a bunch of other TV shows. His show this year is called ‘Motion Sickness’, which Ivo describes as: “a feisty new hour about facing the future named after my fourth favourite Hot Chip song.”

Ivo Graham is quickly becoming the comedic voice of a generation, discussing the hassles of a family WhatsApp group and the ups and downs of growing up and growing to university. He became the youngest ever winner of So You Think You’re Funny? in 2009, and things have only been getting better since.

He’s on the brink of moving into the highest class in comedy and should be reviewed on par with Michael McIntyre and Russell Howard. Plus, he went on The Weakest Link, so great CV all round.

Ivo is one of the friendliest, politest voices in comedy, and you are guaranteed to relate with him on so many levels during his show.

The Bristol Suspensions Present: Love Aca-tually

Dates: August 13-18, 20-25
Venue: theSpaceTriplex
Tickets available here.

The name itself is the perfect example of quintessential Edinburgh Festival show culture. The University of Bristol’s a cappella group won the awards for Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Arrangement and Outstanding Vocal Percussion just last year, and featured on BBC One’s Pitch Battle. They’ve even toured America.

In case you weren’t already familiar with the world of university a cappella in the UK, The Bristol Suspensions are up there with the best. Their 2016 Fringe show sold out and they came second place in the Varsity Vocals International Champions of Collegiate A Cappella (that’s ICCA to you and me), as well as winning The Voice Festival UK a couple of years ago.

As the show name suggests, you will be treated with a different take on classic film Love Actually in Edinburgh this summer. In preparation, you can listen to their stuff over on Spotify.

Henning Wehn: Get on With It

Dates: August 2-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26
Venue: Just the Tonic at The Caves
Tickets available here.

Henning Wehn is German but performs his comedy in English, and as you would expect some of it is based around international relations. But it’s comedy, and because Henning is a fantastic comedian, whatever your views may be about anything political or social, he’ll laugh about it and you will too.

The German Comedy Ambassador has appeared on Would I Lie To You?, Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News For You and so much more. He’s the Michael Schumacher of comedy and was actually listed by Interpol as a missing person in 1995. It turns out he had randomly gone travelling to Morocco with a man he met on a train. His reaction to it: “I’ve never been outside Europe… in for a penny, in for a pound.”

He talks about German stereotypes in a way that doesn’t feel awkward and is a very experienced man. Upon moving to the UK, he was a member of the marketing department of Wycombe Wanderers. In terms of comedy, he has supported the likes of Stewart Lee on tour and travelled to Rio in 2014 to host a travelogue during the FIFA World Cup, exploring the country’s culture and linking it with the football.

Henning Wehn’s show in Edinburgh will be a night of political correctness gone German, and you definitely shouldn’t miss it.

Colin Cloud: Psycho(Logical)

Dates: August 1-13, 15-27
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Tickets available here.

Similar to Piff, Colin Cloud has been on Penn & Teller: Fool Us, and you might also recognise him from Britain’s Got Talent. He is more of a mentalist than a magician, and by that we mean he basically knows everything about you. Sorry about that. Think of him as a Scottish Derren Brown, with a little extra fear about being picked for a trick thrown in.

His shows in Edinburgh have previously involved a stage show plus a tour around the city doing tricks in the streets (check that?), and they’re usually summarised as shows where not only will your darkest truths be revealed, but also your lives are at risk. It’s quite the show.

Colin’s shows in Edinburgh are usually sold out and he was recently voted as one of the best three acts out of over 4000 shows at the festival. Descriptions of his shows usually mention his ability to uncover your darkest secret, then his lack of hesitation in revealing it in front of everyone.

He's described as "Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes in the flesh, with an added dash of charm". If you can risk your entire personal life being exposed to a theatre full of strangers and, more importantly, your friends, go see Colin Cloud.

Jessie Cave: Sunrise

Dates: August 1-12, 14-26
Venue: The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4
Tickets available here.

Jessie Cave has a popular following on Instagram where she posts lots of little doodles about what goes on in her mind in normal social situations and loads of them are actually incredibly relatable. Some of these designs have even appeared on greetings cards, so you may have seen some of her stuff and not even noticed. Check her Insta out to have a look, and we’re sure you’ll find a new favourite page in no time.

You may also recognise her from Harry Potter. Remember the ginger girl who got with Ron when he played a lot of Quidditch and it made Hermione jealous? That’s Jessie Cave. She’s got a large CV to back her up, but if that’s not enough, her comedy is excellent.

Her shows filled with comedic oversharing have sold out the past couple of times she’s been at the festival, and it’s likely to do again this year so get your tickets now!

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