best sketch comedy edinburgh festival

Top sketch comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

It’s not all just standing up and talking. Some shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe have multiple people standing up and talking. And moving around. Here’s our recommendations for the best sketch groups to see at the Fringe in 2012.

Further recommendations:

Top comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Top free comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Jigsaw: Getting Jiggy

Jigsaw Edinburgh Festival

Jigsaw

Jigsaw provide fast, slick and polished sketches which always end in a satisfying punch line. Nat Luurtsema, Dan Antopolski and Tom Craine are superb comic actors, elegantly switching characters in an instant. Time flies when you’re having fun and Getting Jiggy goes by in an instant. Or an hour if you’re talking facts.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4.45pm, £8.50

Sheeps: Dancing With Lisa

Sheeps Edinburgh Festival

Sheeps

Sheeps are by far and away one of the most interesting and unique sketch groups around. Fans include Time Out, London Is Funny, Daniel Kitson and… us. Last year’s show included members of ABBA and the Bee Gees visiting and old lady to steal her songs. Pretty odd sounding isn’t it? It is. And it’s brilliant.
Pleasance Courtyard, 5.10pm, £10

Casual Violence : A Kick In The Teeth

Casual Violence Edinburgh Festival

Casual Violence

Consistently well written and delivered sketches have brought Casual Violence a string of 5 and 4 star reviews over the previous Fringes. Sketches can touch on darker subject matter like murder and death but Casual Violence never gets bogged down in the nightmare and always building to a satisfying twist. A sketch group of exceptional talent.
Just the Tonic at the Caves, 10pm, £8

Pappy’s: Last Show Ever

Pappy's Edinburgh Festival

Pappy’s

Edinburgh Fringe legends Pappy’s latest show is called “Last Show Ever!”, and I really hope it isn’t. The trio’s gift for daftness is unlike anyone else’s and the long established chemistry between Matthew, Tom and Ben is a joy to behold. The usual mix of silliness, daft props and songs is all here. Catch them while you can. You may not get another chance.
Pleasance Dome, 8.20pm, £12.50

Totally Tom

Totally Tom Edinburgh Festival

Totally Tom

The duo have exploded on to the scene last year with their best newcomer nomination and a five star review from the Daily Telegraph (ooh) at last year’s Fringe leading to an E4 pilot and a starring role on BBC3’s Live At The Electric. Simply one of the best sketch groups around at the moment and there is more to come [Great names too - Tom]
Underbelly, Bristo Sq, 8.20pm, £10

Sad Faces Remember It Differently

Sad Faces Edinburgh Festival

Sad Faces

Sad Faces previewed at Laugh Out London in July, and it was one of the best shows we had. Sketches are all tied into the story of one day told from the different face’s perspectives, all kicked off by a green porcelain rabbit. They are definitely one of the most instantly likable acts you will see and the sketches blend well into the narrative, not to mention its bloody funny and brilliantly performed.
Underbelly, Cowgate, 1pm, £8.50

The Beta Males In The Space Race

Beta Males Edinburgh Festival

Beta Males

I’ve seen the Beta Males at the Edinburgh fringe every year since 2009. And this year will be no different. Masters of sketch storytelling, in previous Edinburgh’s the Betas have been trapped in a post-apocalyptic bunker, averted disaster on a train and now blast off into space. Consistently one of our favourite acts at the fringe, and for very good reason.
Pleasance Courtyard, 5.45pm, £10

Max and Ivan are Con Artists

Max and Ivan Edinburgh Festival

Max and Ivan

Max and Ivan will want to build on last year’s Fringe after winning the Panel Prize for their rather spectacular one off special “The Wrestling”, but Con Artist might see them heading for more awards nods. The duo’s performance is fast paced and slick with a massive array of characters using all archetypes from heist movies they can. It’s a seriously impressive feat, and hugely entertaining.
Pleasance Courtyard, 3.30pm, £9.50

McNeil and Pamphilon

Mcneil and Pamphilon Edinburgh Festival

Mcneil and Pamphilon

One of the most striking things about Steve and Sam is the chemistry that the two hold between them. The banter between the sketches ties the act together in-between sharp set pieces. They have been compared to the likes of Eric and Ernie, Vic and Bob and the Boosh for good reason – there’s two of them and they’re men and they’re funny and charismatic.
Pleasance Courtyard, 4.30pm, £10

Checkley and Bush’s Comedy Riot!

Checkley and Bush

Checkley and Bush

Checkley and Bush’s sketches are loud, surreal and joyous. They really know how to bring energy and life into a room. Two genuinely funny comic actors with well-crafted material, who are not afraid of a musical number or two. One of them was on Bad Girls too, so that’s exciting. I think. I’ve never seen Bad Girls.
Just the Tonic at the Caves, 8.55pm, £7

Oyster Eyes: Presents Some Rice

Oyster Eyes Edinburgh Festival

Oyster Eyes

Expect a trip into a dream world of surrealist thought, dissonant sound and nice jumpers. Oyster Eyes are not your usual sketch group. They are unusually good, however.
Underbelly, Cowgate, 10.25pm, £9

 

Further recommendations:

Top comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Top free comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Adam Larter comedy

Top free comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Heading to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but got no cash due to recession/David Cameron/muggers/you eat money? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of free comedy shows at the Fringe, and here’s our pick of the bunch.

Further recommendations:

Top comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Top sketch comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Adam Larter: Happy New Year

Adam Larter - Edinburgh Festival 2012

Adam Larter

I’ve seen three full previews of Adam Larter’s Fringe show in London now, and each one has been a wonderfully unique experience of real imagination that proves impossible to replicate fully. A proper live comedy experience of interaction, music, props, kilts and chaos.
Laughing Horse @ Captain Taylor’s Coffee House, 1.15pm, free


Pat Cahill/Tim Shishodia: The Tim and Pat Show

Pat Cahill and Tim Shishodia

Pat Cahill and Tim Shishodia

Two comedians that have more awards between them than Adele (well, I hope they do anyway – they’re a lot funnier. I don’t know what Adele’s doing entering comedy awards). Cahill, one of comedy’s rising stars, mixes acute thoughts on contemporary life with perfect absurdity, while Shishodia brings to mind Harry Hill with far-fetched ideas and instant likability.
Cabaret Voltaire, 5pm, free


Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel

Austentatious

Austentatious

Six improvisers, including Best Newcomer nominee Cariad Lloyd and Rachel Parris, create an entirely original (and probably quite amusing) Jane Austen-inspired story in one hour. It’s had quite the acclaim in London, but you can now catch it for free in Edinburgh.
Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 1.30pm, free


Adam Hess and Sean McLoughlin: The McLough-Hess Monster

Adam Hess and Sean McLoughlin

Adam Hess and Sean McLoughlin

Chortle Student Comedian of the Year 2011, BBC New Comedy Award 2011 Semi Finalist and one of our favourite Tweeters Adam Hess teams up with Sean Mcloughlin, who was marvellous at one of Laugh Out London’s live shows last year, to do some of that traditional standing up and telling jokes stuff.
Laughing Horse @ Jekyll & Hyde, 4.30pm, free


Shit Theatre present: Sh!t Theatre’s JSA (Job Seekers Anonymous)

Shit Theatre

Shit Theatre

Billed as cabaret, but expect some wry smiles and a guffaw or too at this show from Laugh out London’s favourite musical satirists (as in they are satirists who play music, not satirisers of Grease). They’re at two venues too, so don’t miss out.
Laughing Horse @ The Phoenix, 11.30pm Aug 13-18 and Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 8.15pm Aug 20-26, free


Mark Stephenson: Someone, Somewhere

Mark Stephenson

Mark Stephenson

Another multi-award winner/runner-up who’s rising up the UK comedy ranks, based mainly on original, thoughtful ideas told in a manner that can win over both a Friday night in central London and the more discerning comedy crowd. A nice story about seals too that should hopefully brighten your day.
The Royal Mile Tavern, 2.45pm, free


Harriet Kemsley and Sarah Callaghan: Keeping Their Cool

Harriet Kemsley and Sarah Callaghan

Harriet Kemsley and Sarah Callaghan

Relative newcomer Kemsley has already made her mark on the comedy world, picking up the Funny’s Funny award in 2011, while Callaghan is no stranger to awards herself, being a Funny Women finalist. One’s uncool, one’s angry. Both are trying to change. Both are funny. They’re not trying to change that bit.
Laughing Horse @ The Newsroom, 8.15pm, free


Kieran Hodgson: Supervillain

Kieran Hodgson

Kieran Hodgson

A multi-character comedy with only one actor. Hodgson is one of the brightest talents on the sketch/character comedy circuit, and this should be one of the more fascinating insights into a performer’s personality at this year’s Fringe.
The Voodoo Rooms, 1.15pm, free


Pattie Brewster’s Friendship Venture (For Some Friends)

Pattie Brewster

Pattie Brewster

Pattie just wants to make some friends. Be nice and head along. It definitely won’t be creepy. There will be some cats though. Maybe some charts and pictures too. And woolen clothes. Fun, elaborate character comedy from Amy Callaghan – one half of Christmas For Two.
The Banshee Labyrinth, 7.50pm, free


Thomas Hardie Presents: Where’s Thomas Hardie?

Thomas Hardie

Thomas Hardie

More characters and sketches from the female duo (although only one may be in attendance this year). It promises to be joyful and “full of mystery and suspense”. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Unless you enjoy not laughing. Then you’ll be disappointed. But you deserve to be, you miserable man.
The Voodoo Rooms, 7.30pm, free


Ivo Graham and Liam Williams

Liam Williams

Liam Williams

Liam Williams is 33.333˚% of the wonderful sketch troop Sheeps, and an outstanding comic in his own right (So You Think You’re Funny Runner Up 2010). He’s joined by Ivo Graham who won SYTYF in 2009. A perfect way to start an Edinburgh Fringe Day if you like good comedy from nice people.
Laughing Horse @ Captain Taylor’s Coffee House, noon, free


David Bussell and Ali Brice: Visual Aids

Visual Aids

Visual Aids

A show with a prop based comic (Brice) and another one with slides may not be that unusual a sight in Edinburgh, but it is the intelligence in which they use these items that leads to an experience which is brilliantly refreshing and funny. No clichéd observations, just joyful nonsense.
Rush Bar, 3pm, free


Matt Highton’s End Of The Road

Matt Highton

Matt Highton

Matt Highton is a surreal wonder, who had one of our favourite shows at last year’s Fringe. Jokes take twists and turns that you not only can’t see coming but you wouldn’t think were possible. Immensely likable, and with lovely hair, he is a delight that should not be missed.
Siglo, 5.45pm, free


Nick Sun: Potty Time

Nick Sun

Nick Sun

It’s rare that you can see a So You Think You’re Funny and Raw comedy winner for free so make use of it. Nick Sun is no orthodox comic, but his manic style combined with his joke writing combine beautifully. He is not for everyone, but that’s the point.
Alternative Fringe @ The Hive, 7.45pm, free


Phil O’Shea

Phil O'Shea

Phil O’Shea

Describing a comic as “absurdist” and “whimsical” often comes across as patronising, as if they lack the skill to write jokes. Well, very few comics could write a joke about a lion swallowing a trumpet as wonderfully as Phil O’Shea can. One of our favourite acts on the circuit, we are pretty damn excited to see this, and so should you be.
Belushi’s, 3.40pm, free


Stuart Laws Absolutely Will Not Stop Ever Until You Are Dead (one hour show)

Stuart Laws

Stuart Laws

Stu‘s exquisite ability to brilliantly make himself the centre of attention reels you into a rather manic hour. It’s a nicely balanced mix of well-structured material and reaction to his audience (even getting them up on stage) making you feel like you’re part of the show.
Cabaret Voltaire, Aug 20-25, 5.05pm, free


Matthew Kelly: The Musical

Matthew Kelly

Matthew Kelly

I find it genuinely hard to describe Matthew Kelly: an American artist and minor celebrity with Marge Simpson Hair who is prone to getting a trombone out during his shows. It’s probably the most absurd, stupid, silly, bizarre and amazingly funny experience at the Fringe. During his half hour last year my friend was almost physically sick with laughter, and I had cried all the water out my body. You really need to see this… seriously.
Buff’s Club, 2.30pm, free


The Two O’Clock Show: David Hannant, Anna Freyberg, Chris Boyd

Two O'Clock Show

Two O’Clock Show

David Hannant, Anna Freyberg and Chris Boyd are all genuinely funny and complement each other well (and probably compliment too – they’re all very nice). This will be one of the better showcase shows you will encounter, and it’ll probably be better than most of the ones you have to pay to get in. A lovely way to spend your early afternoon.
The Banshee Labyrinth, 2pm, free


Sam Fletcher: Good On Paper

Sam Fletcher

Sam Fletcher

‘Good on paper’ looks good on paper but is better seeing it in the flesh. I was rather blown away with Sam’s preview which I caught it about five months ago. It’s packed with silly songs, drawing and magic tricks, and is full of clever ideas. I’m still giggling when I think about it now.
Bannerman’s, 12.30pm, free


Jay Cowle: We The Chemicals

Jay Cowle

Jay Cowle

Jay brings intelligent stand up about love, drugs, the universe, cats and red wine to the fringe this year. Well-crafted jokes and a laid back delivery make this a highly enjoyable forty minutes and highlights Jay’s potential.
The Banshee Labyrinth, 3.10pm, free

 

Further recommendations:

Top comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Top sketch comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Holly Burn

Top comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Unsure of what to see at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012?

Instead of getting all panicky and vomiting on your Fringe programme, why not take a look at Laugh Out London’s top 10 comedy recommendations to enjoy during August.

Further recommendations:

Top sketch comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Top free comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Tom’s picks…

Holly Burn: The H Club

Holly Burn

Holly Burn

The only time that comedy has nearly caused me damage is when I almost fell off a stool laughing at Holly Burn crashing into a wall as household daredevil Dangerous Dawn. She promises a selection of equally entertaining and insane characters who are all fully paid up members of the H Club – a mixture of the Groucho Club, Stringfellows and Bedlam Hospital. Some will laugh, some will be confused, all will never see anything else like it at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Just the Tonic at the Caves, 4.40pm, £7 (£6)

Lou Sanders: And Now For A Nice Evening With Wallan

LOU SANDERS!

After a much-heralded debut hour in 2011, Lou Sanders is back, and with seemingly all inhibitions out the window and all imagination left to roam free. According to Lou, Wallan is that special feeling when it all just seems to click, and it manifests itself in a variety of guises littered throughout an audiovisual spectacle that may or may not involve a paddling pool, a ladder and a fishing rod. Expect chaos and excitement.
Pleasance Courtyard, 9.30pm, £9.50

Bridget Christie: War Donkey

Bridget Christie

Two years ago, Bridget Christie opened her Edinburgh show dressed as ant doing ant-based observational material (it was triumphant!). A year later, she came on stage dancing to a reggae version of the Dr Who theme tune whilst dressed as a Catholic priest with gorilla hands. I have no idea what to expect this year. I think I like that. I’m going to assume it’ll be as brilliant as ever though.
Assembly Rooms, various times, £10

Discover Ben Target

Ben Target - comedy London May 23rd

Ben Target

Word of mouth from all the cool comedy kids saw Ben Target pack out his brief run on the free fringe last year that took comedy to a level of interaction that caused as much discomfort for some as refreshing joy for others. For 2012, he’s 15 minutes longer and ready to bring more mindgames and mayhem with props, thoughts and a confidence that can caused any audience to do the most wonderful things.
Underbelly, 4.55pm, £10

Trevor Lock’s Amateur Sex Tape Theory

Trevor Lock - comedy London July 4th

Trevor Lock

Growing up in the Scottish Borders with only a television and teletext for my cultural development, Trevor Lock’s face was one of the most imprinted images on my mind thanks to his much bullied appearances on This Morning With Richard Not Judy. Fifteen years later, he’s now one of the best still to be discovered on the tip of making it almost quite there cult hero stand-ups going (see Simon Munnery) and promises a fascinating hour delving into our perception of ourselves and each other. One of those types who takes the ridiculous very seriously. You know? The best type.
Alternative Fringe at The Hive, 6pm, £5

Jack’s picks…

Tony Law: Maximum Nonsense

Tony Law Edinburgh Fringe preview

Tony Law

Tony bounds onstage like a man who has just eaten 50 Duracell bunnies. His material is loosely connected together with no particular theme, but that’s the joy of his manic delivery. You are never sure which surreal twist he will take next. One of the best comics around and this will be chance to see a master at work. Maximum Nonsense will do what it says on the tin.
The Stand, 12.30pm, £8 

Daniel Simonsen: Champions

Daniel Simonsen

Daniel Simonsen

This is Daniel’s first hour show and it’s shaping up to be a delight. His off-kilter delivery in his Norwegian accent creates an unsettling atmosphere that emphasises the quality of his writing. Having won So You Think You’re Funny back in 2008 he’s gone on to feature on Russell Howard’s Good News along and supported Simon Amstell on tour. This will be a debut show of a very high calibre.
Pleasance Courtyard, 7pm, £10 

Bec Hill: Bec Hill Is More Afraid Of You Than You Are Of Her!

Bec Hill!

One of our favourite acts, the immensely likable Bec Hill presents a mixture of quirky and silly jokes alongside her wonderful homemade flipchart drawings that make her one of the most refreshing acts on the circuit. And watch out for her homemade music video about dinosaurs. Bec, whose own shown may have one of the best titles at this year’s Fringe, is also running a one off special of her London club night “The Pun Run” – a night of frivolous wordplay that is taken very seriously.
Gilded Balloon, 2.45pm, £8 

Josie Long: Romance and Adventure

Josie Long

What more can be said about Josie Long? Having won the best newcomer award back in 2006 she has been nominated for the main award three times, most recently for last year’s “The future is another place”. Josie brought in a political edge to her show last year which is still present alongside her clever and whimsical observations. Always a safe bet for a rewarding, smart and uplifting show.
Pleasance Courtyard, 6pm, £11.50 

James Acaster: Prompt

James Acaster

James Acaster

I was pretty surprised last year when James Acaster’s debut show wasn’t nominated for best newcomer – it was one of my favourite shows of the fringe. His ability to interact with the crowd is second to none he also has a range facial expressions and mannerisms which tie
the whole thing together beautiful. His material is silly. Very silly, and is complemented by his straight-faced delivery. Just few of the stand out bits from what I have seen this year include a football song and his research into bread. If you enjoy nonsense it’s no to be missed.
Pleasance Courtyard, 8.15pm, £10 

 

Further recommendations:

Top sketch comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012

Top free comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012