Edinburgh Preview: Been There, Done That, Back & Doing It Again

News: Frank Skinner To Write Prayer Book
News: Richard Herring To Host NextUp Gala

There's a school of thought that the Edinburgh Fringe is a Young Person's Game. But actually in recent years it has become an older person's game too. Maybe they are the baby boomer generation who can afford to lose a few grand every August or maybe they just love the thrill of the Fringe and the art of stand-up. Whatever the reasons here are some comedians who know the game inside out and are the collective epitome of a safe pair of comedy hands. And no, they are not listed in descending order of chronology. We'll not be having any age before beauty here. Some of them might not be doing a full Fringe run, but at their age I think we can allow them a few days off. Click on their names for their dates and ticket details.

 

Andy Smart has performed at forty Edinburgh Festivals. Over two and a half years of his life has been spent in Edinburgh during August. He is probably best known these days as one of the Comedy Store Players, but in his solo show here he talks about how he started out on the streets, the Vicious Boy years, the stand-up shows, the plays, and the improv shows. Andy has witnessed the Fringe change and grow. You'll find out why he fainted during The Twelve Angry Men, how he saved Paul Merton's life, and what it was like to perform at the old Late'n'Live. And if you can't make it he also has a book out.

Richard Vranch has been doing the Fringe since 1979 and was going to do a solo show this year to mark 40 years since his debut, but has sadly cancelled it. You can still see him though in not one but two impro shows – Paul Merton's Impro Chums and Whose Line Is It Anyway? He is also doing the John-Luke Roberts "unstageable art" show on August 16th – more about that here. Or instead you can always catch Janey Godley – probably most famous for her "Trump is A C**t" (our asterisks) placard – who is doing a free show. 

I don't know how long Nick Revell has been doing the Fringe – on and off since the 1980s I expect – but i can't believe he was ever as good as he is now. I caught him recently at the Laugharne Festival in Wales and was blown away not just by his inventive comedic flights of fancy that involved Gwyneth Paltrow, Putin, dream catchers, Che Guevara and life in Crouch End among other things but also by his enviable energy levels. Catch him at The Stand and prepare to be impressed.

Charmian Hughes was a regular on the comedy circuit, then she went off and did the sensible thing of bringing up a family so had to give the Fringe a wide berth for a while. Now that the family has grown up she has started returning to Edinburgh and is back this year with her latest show, entitled What-Not, about identity and more. Charmian self-identifies as a what-not, the word for people who don’t have a word. Bridget Christie says "I love Charmian Hughes'" and Christie has excellent taste.

What else can you say about Frank Skinner (pictured) that hasn't already been said? He's a comic legend and at 62 on as good form as ever. The only thing I'd take issue with is that he says seeing older comedians onstage is so rare it's like seeing wasps in November. At Edinburgh this year that's not the case. There's a hell of a lot of wasps on the Fringe. International long service is represented by Australia-based Jimeoin, another sublime master of observational humour still at the top of his game. He is returning to the Fringe for his 26th year.

Richard Herring (pictured) is another Fringe stalwart but he is returning this year not with a new stand-up show but with his Leicester Square Theatre Podcast interview show. He might well be popping up elsewhere too so follow him on Twitter @herring1967 to be across all of his movements, but you can read a list of all of his podcast guests here

One of Herring's contemporaries Simon Munnery is rolling back the years by returning to the Fringe in the guise of his early character, Alan Parker Urban Warrior. I'm hoping the punky Parker will be angrier than ever, but maybe he's happily settled down with a wife and children and low interest mortgage by now. Catch him here to find out.

And Arthur Smith is back and doing a short run of his hit show about his father called Syd (the name of the show and the name of his ex-POW dad). Edinburgh would not be Edinburgh without Smith. If he doesn't do the Fringe it would be like the ravens leaving the Tower of London.

Canadian Stewart Francis is doing that thing that comedians rarely do. He has announced his retirement. There is one more farewell UK tour after the Fringe but first catch the punster in the Scottish capital. Who knows, maybe he will bow out in style by winning the Dave Joke of the Fringe Award again – he previously won it in 2012 with (the topical at the time): "You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks."


*Footnote: As usually happens with pieces like this in the age of social media, a couple of comics have tweeted to point out that they've done a fair few Fringes too. Thom Tuck has told me that he has done it for 18 consecutive years and is back this year. And this is the 29th year for 2006 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Phil Nichol.

 

 

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