You can run the gamut of emotions at The Fringe – from amazement to outrage, from hilarity to
heartbreak and often all in the one show.
Here are our five picks at this year’s festival that embody that precious feeling, joy
1 Rahul Kholi: Newcastle Brown Tales
He’s twisted his ankle so delivers his set on crutches in a tiny basement room in the old town.
But word had obviously spread that Kholi’s endearing tales of teenage Geordie japery bring a smile to your face on even a rainy Edinburgh lunchtime. From the unexpected hero of a Glasgow cash machine queue to accidentally pitching up at a nudist guest house, his act had the sardine-squashed crowd crying with laughter.
In addition to this storytelling gig, Rahul’s also delivering a political satire at the Stand and a comedy guest compilation at The Counting House.
Laughing Horse at Cabaret Voltaire (Free, non-ticketed)
Aug 15-27 13.00. Tickets here.
2 Ali Affleck’s Speakeasy Sessions: One Night in New Orleans
You wouldn’t think that a set featuring a song about ‘Old Sparky’ (the electric chair) would be a thing of joy but stunning musicianship and an obvious love for prohibition-era blues has a packed Jazz Bar crowd grinning, whooping and calling for more.
Award-winning Edinburgh/American vocalist, Alison Affleck could easily take the prize for hardest working headliner at The Fringe with six shows! Here, she and her cracking six-piece band stroll through gems from Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and many more.
The Jazz Bar, Chambers Street (£10)
Aug 21, 22, 23, 27 various times. Tickets here.
3 Jocky Wilson Said
There’s pathos as well as joy in this virtuoso one-man show, of course. Scotland’s unlikeliest sporting hero had a tough start in life and struggled for acceptance even in the supposedly working class world of darts.
But spending an hour with Jocky in the Nevada desert as he tells his tales of sporting derring do is as uplifting as it comes. Outlander star Grant O Rourke slips masterfully between Jocky’s varying moods and supplies the supporting cast too. A tour de force.
Gilded Balloon @ Rose Theatre (£12)
Aug 21-24 15.45. Tickets here
4 Lucy Porter: Choose Your Battle
It’s not every comedian that dresses their set with a semi-circle of bags of crisps! Is this a bribe for the audience or a half-time snack for Lucy? All will become clear.
The theme is Porter’s extreme aversion to conflict, demonstrated by her gentle way with latecomers. They wouldn’t get off so lightly at Jason Byrne’s show! You’re all in safe hands with this consummate professional, though, so chuckle along to her delightful tales of uncommunicative parents, Gary Lineker and near misses on pedestrian crossings…
Pleasance Courtyard (various prices)
Aug 17-22, 24-27 17.30. Tickets here.
5 Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime: Philip Contini and his Be Happy Band
If you have a taste for music, you’re likely to encounter a number of Edinburgh’s exceptional jazz, blues and swing musicians popping up in multiple venues across the Fringe, leading their own bands and supporting one another.
Philip Contini has assembled an excellent crew here for his joyous celebration of Dean Martin’s 100th Birthday. This is no cheesy tribute show but a spoken and musical biography of the star born Dino Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1917. The songs are delivered in Philip’s own engaging style. As a bonus, you can treat yourself to coffee and cake in the cafe afterwards!
Valvona & Crolla, Elm Row (£14)
Aug 18-19, 21, 23, 25-26 various times. Tickets here.