Onion at the Fringe: 2017 TVO Edinburgh round-up

It’s that time of year again: the Edinburgh Fringe is almost upon us, and once again a cavalcade of TVO regulars are heading across the Scottish border to entertain the masses on a daily basis.


© The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

We’ve rounded up all the Onion-flavoured Fringe shows taking place between 2nd and 29th August this year below, and given you a quick summary as to just why you should book them in fast. If you’re Fringe bound, consider this your go-to-guide for the must see shows in Edinburgh. Enjoy…

© Karl Webster

Adam Kay: Fingering A Minor on the Piano

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 14th-15th, 17th-22nd, 24th-28th August, 8:30pm

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, they say, and Adam Kay‘s 2016 show Fingering A Minor on the Piano certainly needed nothing changing – as we enthused last year, it was close to perfect, fusing extracts from Kay’s diary during his time as a young Doctor prior to his comedy career, with his Leher-inspired quickfire musical parodies and willingness to push the boundaries of acceptability. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of an hour, with a finale that lingers in the mind, and we’re overjoyed that Adam is reviving the sell out hit for a limited run towards the end of the Fringe this year.

The reason? Well, that’ll be the forthcoming release of Adam’s memoirsThis is Going to Hurt – which you really should pre-order… but if you’re Fringe bound int he latter half of August, make this show a priority first.

© Richard Davenport


Underbelly George Square, 3rd-14th, 16th-28th August, 1:30pm

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With five previous Fringe runs under their gussets, the team behind the marvellous Austentatious are riding high after a critically acclaimed Radio 4 pilot a few short weeks ago. While we’re hoping its the beginning of bigger things for the heavily corseted gang, this is surely an exciting time to catch them live once more.

For the uninitiated: the all-star cast have to improvise a ‘lost’ Jane Austen masterpiece, based on a single audience suggestion chosen at random. No two shows are ever the same, and with a cast that includes TVO regulars Cariad Lloyd and Rachel Parris, plus The Mash Report‘s Andrew Hunter Murray (and honestly: every single one of these folk is superb), it’s a joyfully silly way to spend an hour of your early afternoon.

The Austentatious team will performing a one off cross-dressing show in aid of Waverley Care… you can buy tickets to this late night special on 17th August right here. Most of the cast are also performing in various solo shows in their own right. For full details, click here.

© Colin Hoult

Colin Hoult: Anna Mann in How We Stop the Facists

Pleasance Courtyard, 2nd-13th, 15th-27th August, 4:45pm

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Ah, Anna Mann. What a force of nature she is, and how joyous it is to see her (and by proxy, Colin Hoult) back in Edinburgh following their sensational return to the Fringe last year. After fleshing out the character both on stage and his wonderful Comedy Short back in February, this year’s show sees Anna use her incredible acting prowess to take on fascism and broken Britain.

Along the way, she’ll transform into exemplary members of our society, such as aspiring screenwriter Andy Parker and highly concerned citizen Nick Crippen. The results are mesmerising, as this highly engaging performer takes her audience on an incredible journey up and down the land. Expect some gentle audience participation, both sides of the political landscape getting a good ribbing, and some masterful transformations and brand new characters from a comedic genius.

© Joey Page

Joey Page: Pretty Boy

Laughing Horse at The Counting House, 3rd-28th August, 6:00pm

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There are some comics who rise to the top of their game, and get all the plaudits for it along the way. Then there are others who, whilst reaching the same critical and artistic heights, never quite seem to have their moment in the spotlight: like it’s about to happen at any moment, and the sooner it does the better.

Joey Page is currently in the latter camp, and it’s surely only a matter of time before all his hard work pays off. His work on Fubar Radio may be the key, exposing the Luxury Comedy star to all new audiences, while his recent collaboration with John Hopkins is a nice reminder that, when his surreal mind is let loose, Page can take you on flights of fantasy that you can’t help but enjoy. Here’s a chance to spend an hour in his realm. Seize it before the Moment comes and you’re stuck at the back when he’s playing arenas.

© Anna Soderblom

Johnny and the Baptists: The Best of 2012-2017

Roundabout at Summerhall, 13th-14th, 16th-19th August, 7:25pm

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We can’t quite believe it’s only been five years since Johnny and the Baptists burst onto the scene with their delectable blend of socialist political satire and downright silly and occasionally crude flights of musical fancy.

Yet here we are, celebrating the dynamic duo with a brief ‘best of’ run ahead of their forthcoming co-headline tour with Josie Long and Grace Petrie in the Autumn. The actual contents of the show are a closely guarded secret, but with past favourites like Do It In The Library, Upper Middle Class Gangster Children, Raise Your Hands (If You Hate Democracy), Quentin Blake, Farage and the sublime When You Grow Up to draw upon, there’s no shortage of brilliant tunes to consider. This may be your last chance to hear these tracks before Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers start the next step of their career, so get in while you can.

Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe’s sublime play Every Brilliant Thing also returns to the Fringe, this time with a brand new star. Catch the run from 21st August (except 22nd).

© Katy Brand

Katy Brand: I Could’ve Been an Astronaut

Pleasance Courtyard, 2nd-13th, 15th-20th, 22nd-26th August, 6:20pm

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Katy Brand‘s surprise return to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time in over a decade with her show I Was a Teenage Christian was one of the absolute highlights of the 2016 festival, and as longterm supporters of her work, it was particularly pleasurable to watch from the sidelines as Brand was increasingly in demand for her brand new show. The former character comedian was now a fully fledged comic storyteller, and unsurprisingly, it turned out she was damn good at it: so much so that the show went on to rave reviews up and down the country when taken on tour earlier this year.

This year see’s a renewed and revitalised Brand take on one of her keen interests: space. Her self-described ‘amateur and somewhat improbably love of astronomy’ combines with her ‘crapness at maths’ to run through time-travel, worm holes, dark matter and parallel universes and the fantasy of starting again on a new planet. We’re sure it’s going to be supersonic, so book early to avoid missing out on what’s sure to be a sell out run.

© Late Night Gimp Fight

Late Night Gimp Fight

Pleasance Courtyard, 3rd-5th, 10th-12th, 17th-19th, 24th-26th August, 11:00pm

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An unexpected, but oh so welcome return to the Fringe this year for everyone’s favourite washed up boy band of sketch comedy. Late Night Gimp Fight have long been honorary Onions, having frequently shared a bill with many of our regulars in the early part of this decade, and being smashing gents too. We love ’em, and we honestly thought we’d seen the last of ’em.

Back with a new hour of mind-blowing nonsense, we can’t wait to see what the boys have been cooking up – but based on past form, you’re in for an absolute corker of a show. It won’t be safe, and it won’t be family friendly, but it will be naughty naughty fun time, and where else can you get that late at night in Edinburgh without paying over the odds? Go get some gimp.

© Luke Kempner

Luke Kempner: Take A Long Hard Luke At Yourself

Pleasance Courtyard, 2nd-13th, 15th-28th August, 4:45pm

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You may not know the name, but you’ll probably know that face – if you can recognise it without tons of prosthetic make-up that is. Luke Kempner is one of the unsung heroes of BBC Three’s smash hit Murder in Successville, having appeared in 10 of the 18 episodes to date, as – in order: Allan Carr, Brian Cox, Andy Murray, Russell Brand, Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Daley, Jeremy Kyle, Arsene Wenger, Declan Donnelly and Bear Grylls.

Away from MiS, Kempner has also appeared in Tracy Ullman’s Show and Drunk History UK, and his live shows have received rave reviews left, right and centre. Even Dawn French took a moment to call him a “blummin’ genius”. This is your chance to see the real Luke, via his impeccable impersonations, before the tellybods see sense and give him his own show.

© Mark Dawson / Marny Godden

Marny Godden is One Tooth

Heroes at The Hive, 3rd-15th, 17th-27th August, 3:45pm

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There’s no doubt about it: to enjoy Marny Godden‘s work, you must be willing to go on a journey… a very silly journey at that. Such madcap whimsy has somewhat fallen out of fashion in recent years, but there’s a vibe to Godden’s shows that harks back to Vic & Bob at their peak, or, dare we say it, The Mighty Boosh before they hit the big time. That Godden has undergone clowning training, been part of a cult sketch trio, and worked with improv legend Phil Whelan only helps to enfuse her work with an engaging dedication to the cause, and there’s no doubt that every corner of the room will be worked to the very core.

While the focus is on the toothless punk One Tooth, Marny’s rag-tag collection of characters will be on hand to delight those willing to play along, even if they’ll baffle those who aren’t. If you’re looking for something seriously silly this year, you’ll be in stitches.

© Paul Foot

Paul Foot: Tis a Pity She’s a Piglet…

Underbelly Cowgate, 3rd-13th, 15th-27th August, 7:10pm

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A welcome return for Fringe veteran Paul Foot, who brings his 2016 show Tis a Pity She’s a Piglet back for another run-through. Exploring and dissecting such issues as terrorism, Ant ‘n Dec, immigration, the X-Factor and breakfast, the show has already toured to four countries across six continents to jam-packed audiences and critical adoration.

If you’ve been following TVO over the last seven years, Paul’s comedy will need no real introduction – but if you’ve yet to savour the delight of Paul Foot on stage, then prepare to enter another realm that you’ll never quite return from the same way. He’s intense, utterly unique, and downright adorable, and the result is a mastercraftsman of surrealistic awkwardness that’ll have you rolling in the aisles. If there are any isles. I don’t know. It’s the Udderbelly, so they’ll probably have some sort of aisles. Stairs at least. Just roll. It’s what Paul would have wanted. Maybe.

© Rachel Parris

Rachel Parris: Keynote

Pleasance Dome, 2nd-28th August, 8:20pm

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The Velvet Onion has always aimed to focus on a core family of interconnected artists, who just can’t stop collaborating with one another. Over the years, that family has expanded, as more and more talents float into our radar, and the tractor beam of great comic minds pulls them into regular work with ‘our lot’, until before we know it, we’re not only mentioning them all the time, and plugging their work by proxy, but we’re welcoming them with open arms into the ‘family’ in their own right.

Rachel Parris is one such example who this time last year, was only in our perpendicular vision, following turns in The IT Crowd and Murder in Successville. Since then she’s become a fully fledged TVO regular, joining Colin Hoult in Revolting, Jonny & The Baptists in 30 Christmasses, and James Wren & Richard Glover in Godless. And all this while being brilliant in Austentatious alongside Cariad Lloyd, and forging her own path as a blisteringly brilliant musical stand-up.

It’s this final option that Keynote offers: as Parris explores the concept of role models, and wonders what messed up message she can possibly offer to impressionable young minds. A must see.

© Richard Herring

Richard Herring: Oh Frig, I’m 50!

Pleasance Courtyard, 2nd-26th August, 7:30pm

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Quick question: does anybody out there not love Richard Herring? Since he burst onto the scene in the 1990s with his then double-act partner, Stewart Lee, Herring has played Edinburgh Fringe every single year, to the point where they may as well call it the Richard Herring Edinburgh Fringe before long…

It helps that, as well as being an impeccable stand-up fully deserving of his cult following, Herring is a genuinely likeable and approachable human being, always willing to reach out a hand to support lesser known artists. In recent years, he’s been working semi-regularly with the delightful Rachel Stubbings on several projects, while his award-winning Leicester Square Theatre podcast has featured a number of our regulars in deep discussion with the affable host.

Oh Frig, I’m 50! then, is Herring doing what he does best: playing the loser on stage to an audience that knows he’s a winner. Here for his 30th successive Fringe, and his 40th show in his 50th year, this is one show we can’t recommend highly enough from a true legend of alternative comedy.

Richard will also be hosting three editions of his popular podcast series from the Fringe on 4th, 11th and 18th August. You can find tickets to attend here.

© Sarah Kendall / Rosalind Furlong

Sarah Kendall: One-Seventeen

Assembly George Square Studios, 2nd-27th August, 7:00pm

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Taking a lengthy sabbatical from a stand-up career rarely ends well, but for Sarah Kendall, her return to the live scene in 2015 led to a trio of sell-out, award-winning shows, an Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination (unheard of for a so-called ‘veteran’ of the Fringe), and a spin-off radio series for good measure.

With the Australian Trilogy over, Kendall’s next move is again in the storytelling vein she’s made her forte in recent years, but is a brand new beast that will make you laugh, might make you cry, and quite probably will make you cry laughing, laugh crying, or some other combination of the two. Kendall is at the top of her game, and she’s never been more vital. Don’t miss this one!

© Simon Day

Simon Day: In Character

Pleasance Dome, 16th-20th August, 2:00pm

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There was a time in the mid 1990s when The Fast Show was the ultimate zeitgeist show, and Simon Day was a huge part of that, with much loved characters like eco-warrior Dave Angel, uncompromising cop Monkfish, and pub bore Billy Bleach.

Bleach is one of four characters revived for this tour, which will also bring back Bellamy’s People characters Geoffrey Allterton (confirmed bachelor and unpublished Yorkshire poet), Tony Beckton (one of Britain’s most dangerous men), and beloved prog-rocker Brian Pern for good measure.

With dates across the UK in the Autumn, the five night Edinburgh run is a good chance to get in early, and see this true legend of British comedy up close and personal.

© Tony Law

Tony Law: Absurdity for the Common People

The Stand Comedy Club, 3rd-13th, 15th-28th August, 12:00pm

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Tony Law. Tony, Tony, McTony The ToneZone. There’s only one Tony Law out there, and isn’t he bloody marvellous at it?

His wacky, conflicting narratives lead audiences on an inimitable and unforgettable journey, totally unapologetic to those who won’t come along for the ride. There’s a clever wisdom to it all, however – this isn’t just a loud Canadian man shouting random things out loud, but a carefully constructed flight of fancy, and one that’s never less than mesmerising.

You see, in Tony’s world, whimsy is not just for nerds and farmers. Mr Law is your maverick truth slinger of ridiculousness for the people: hysteria for nurses, mothers and plumbers; important nonsense for all. And if you don’t join in, it’s going to happen anyway, so you might as well see a master in his prime.

Of course, there are hundreds and hundreds of great shows at the Fringe this year, and our regulars and associated acts are just a small handful of the greats on offer. Is there a show we’ve missed that you think we should know about? Let us know in the comments below… and if you get to any of the shows above and get to meet the stars afterwards, you tell ’em the Velvet Onion sent you, eh?

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