I’m so incredibly excited about taking our “Bright Lights, Big City Impro” show to Edinburgh next month that I’ve attempted to go through the whole official Edinburgh Fringe brochure to see what other improv shows there are. I’ve tried to stick to shows that are pure improv rather than containing some improv elements and I’ve probably missed a few so do let me know if I’ve missed anything.
I present to you my guide to improv at the Edinburgh Fringe….
Aug 2-28 (not 16) – 12:00 – Pleasance Dome
One of the performers from Racing Minds (Dylan) has lead workshops with us over the last year where I’ve learnt so much and had a lot of fun. This is an improvised comic adventure with the premise being a doddery grandfather can’t remember his ripping yarn. The show has sold out at the Fringe for three years running and I’ve heard so many good things about this show and I can’t wait to see it.
Aug 3-27 (not 14) – 18:00 – Assembly George Square Gardens
I’ve seen Abandoman many times, Rob Broderick is such an amazing performer and has this amazingly witting and charming character that you just warm to him when he’s on stage. This show promises that the world’s biggest hip-hop musical will be written. I urge you to check-out the video of Abandoman on Eight out of Ten Cats does Countdown to see just how talented he is.
Aug 4-26 (not 6) – 18:35 – theSpace on Niddry Street
One of Edinburgh’s own improv companies who I had the pleasure of seeing a few years ago at the Brighton Fringe. A really fun show full of fast-paced sketches and one you’ll come away laughing from.
Aug 3-27 (not 14) – 15:00 – Just the Tonic at The Community Project
I’m a huge fan of Sherlock so this improvised Sherlock Holmes adventure is right up my street (and hopefully better than the last episode of series 4 of Sherlock!). Brought to you by Racing Minds and members of Impromptu Shakespeare, I can’t wait to catch this show.
Aug 4-27 (not 14 or 21) – 16:00 – Sweet Grassmarket
An improvised Doctor Who episode. I heard that people really enjoyed the show at the Brighton Fringe this year, so I’m looking forward to seeing this in Edinburgh. Now we know who the 13th Doctor is going to be, I suppose that makes this show have the 14th Doctor.
Aug 3-27 (not 14) – 17:30 – Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire
An hour of improvised comedy by John Hastings where each show is recorded as a podcast and released. I’ve listened to some recordings from previous years and if you are attending this year you are in for a treat.
Aug 21-26 – 17:10 – theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
I’ve seen the HumanMachine perform solo and it’s amazing seeing a robot doing an improv scene with a human. Although I’ve not seen the two robot, two humans show I’ve heard lots of good things about it. For Edinburgh rather than having the humans and robots in different time zones everyone is going to be together in one room, so slightly less technology required than previously!
Aug 3-28 (not 15) 13:30 – Underbelly
I’ve seen Austentatious lots of times the last few years and the shows have always been fantastic. A great premise in improvising a new Jane Austen novel at each show (some of which I think have been better than actual Jane Austen books!). Featuring a cast of some of the UK’s best improvisers, I urge you to go and see this show and see improvised theatre at its finest.
Aug 17 – 23:45 – Underbelly
Austentatious, with cross dressing, and all for Charity. There’s nothing more that I could say that should make you want to go and see this.
Aug 2-27 – 21:30 – Assembly George Square Studios
Baby Wants Candy are incredible. I’ve seen them perform their musical show a few times and have been simply amazed each time at how much fun I’ve had watching a musical be made up and watching everyone on the stage genuinely enjoy themselves. Think Showstoppers but with Americans and you’ve got a show that I realty recommend you book tickets for now.
Aug 15-27 – 22:40 – Underbelly, Cowgate
A two person improvised storytelling show. The description makes it sound like a lot fun (telling stories our grandparents wish they could tell us). I’ve not seen the show before (mainly because both performers are from Sydney), but looking forward to seeing this.
Aug 4-19 (not 6 or 13) – 21:05 – theSpace on the Mile
Blind Mirth hail from St Andrews’ so are another local group. Promising the finest and most luxurious improv at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Aug 4-28 – 22:20 – Heroes @ Monkey Barrel
I’ve heard so many good things about this show that it’s definitely on my to do list this year. The title sums up the description of the show and Brendon Burns is one of the funniest comics in the UK so I’m looking forward to watching some bad wrestling and commentary by comics.
Aug 3-27 (not 15) – 15:00 – Laughing Horse @ The Counting House
The premise of an entirely made up adventure for grown-ups taking inspiration from Blyton Classics sounds great. Add to that a fabulous cast lead by Jonah Fazel who I’ve seen do some fantastic things before – including Upstairs Downton and this is sure to be a spiffing show full of toffees and ginger pop.
Aug 5-28 – 13:15 – Gilded Balloon Teviot
An improvised romantic comedy, which I hope is as good as Love Actually (I’m forgetting that Love Actually 2 is even a real thing). I like the idea of an improvised romantic comedy as there’s very few improv shows that deal with love stories with a large cast. I’ve seen the Impronauts previously and they are great improvisers so looking forward to this.
Aug 2-27 – 21:45 – Pleasance Courtyard
I’ve not seen Chris Turner before although I do like the sound of the show in being a freestyle rapper. Freestyle rapping is difficult and doing a one man hour show with it in takes a lot of guts.
Aug 5-26 (not 7, 14 or 21) – 19:30 – Subway
I love playing Cards Against Humanity, it’s a great game for just having fun and also is a great way of revealing how truly warped some people’s brains are. I’ve seen similar style shows where improvisers use the suggestions for inspiration for scenes, but here comedians create material on the spot and it sounds like lots of fun.
Aug 3-15 – 15:45 – Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters
Two teams go head to head (with a referee on hand to keep things family-friendly) to see who can get the biggest laughs. Although I’ve not seen Comedysportz perform I’m looking forward to seeing some short-form competitive improv (and also seeing how they keep it all family-friendly!).
Aug 5-26 (not 21) – 18:45 – Bar Bados Complex
I’ve not managed to catch the Committee when they’ve been playing in London, but everyone who I speak to who has seen them have lots of positive things to say. Challenging the Parentheticals for London’s biggest improv group, their line-up includes incredibly talented people and definitely one of those groups to catch before they become really famous.
Aug 3-27 (not 14, 22) – 19::40 – Venue 150 at EICC
Having read the description, I’m not completely sure what the show is (from the description is appears to be an hour of Craig Hill in a kilt making people laugh) but his comedy CV is impressive with this being his 15th year at the Fringe and having played across the main Australian comedy festivals as well – I’m probably upsetting the whole nation of Scotland in not knowing about Craig Hill!
Aug 4-27 (not 14) – 15:00 – Just the Tonic at The Caves
I saw CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation in the early days and loved the concept then and over the last few years it’s been refined to be a fabulous show. It’s got a fabulous cast and is a really polished and slick show that audiences have been flocking to at various fringe festivals. Last year people queued around the block for the show (with people being turned away), so book your ticket early this year to get a change to see this fantastic show (which I predict will go to Austentatious levels of fame).
Aug 14-27 (not 20) – 22:30 – Paradise in The Vault
I’ve seen Charlie V.Martin do a preview of part of the show and I really enjoyed it, and I’m a huge fan of the two-prov she does with Mike and Charlie. The premise of the show sounds great (history’s most famous exiles as you’ve never seen them before) and it looks like it’ll be a fantastic show.
Aug 4-26 (not 13) – Various times – theSpace @ Jury’s Inn
The fantastic guys and gals of Bristol Improv present a show that’s a mixture of scenes and games and longer sketches all based on when friends, family and lovers come together to spend time, catch up and share stories. Definitely a show that’s going to be full of wonderful characters and some drama as well as comedy!
Aug 21-25 – 23:00 – Pleasance Dome
I love this show by Andrew Hunter Murray and Charlotte Gittins (both of Austentatious fame) where the two-prov can go from being incredibly smart to stupid all within a scene. Definitely one to watch if you want to see some really good quality improv.
Aug 2-27 – 23:00 – Pleasance Courtyard
The huge growth of the Free Association over the last few years has been amazing, managing to combine fantastic teaching with an incredible range of shows as well (of which Jacuzzi is one of them). A special guest joins the Free Association’s incredibly talented line up for an hour of top quality improv.
Aug 3-5 – 23:00 – Pleasance Dome
Four superstars of improv (Josie Lawrence, Pippa Evans, Ruth Bratt and Cariad Lloyd) combine together to create was can only be described as an improv super-group. They are only in Edinburgh for 3 nights and whenever they perform in London they sell out so I suggest booking tickets for this show as soon as you can.
Aug 4-26 (not 6,13 or 20) – 23:05 – theSpace on the Mile
The Beard of Zeus present an improvised fairytale, but this time for grown-ups. I really like the sound of the show and to me invokes a bit of a Crackanory feel. I look forward to seeing how.
Aug 3-13 – 16:30 – Just the Tonic at the Caves
The Maydays have been around for over 10 years and continue to produce fantastic shows. Their Happily Never After show is inspired by Tim Burton, Lemony Snicket and the Brothers Grimm and is incredibly good. It’s been getting rave reviews everywhere that it goes and if you want to see a show featuring improvisers really in tune with each other and having as much fun as the audience go catch this.
Aug 15-27 – 20:20 – Just the Tonic at The Mash House
I know it’s mandatory that every short-form show has to feature the suggestion “film-noir”, Hivemind take this one step further and create a completely improvised noir thriller. Another show that I’ve not managed to catch yet myself but which I only hear great things about.
Aug 5-27 – 11:30 – Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters
Hivemind’s second show, although based on the description it’s kind of someone else’s show as well. Hivemind will take a show’s title and information from its flyer and then perform their own reproduction. This sounds a fantastic idea, although if people bring them flyers of their own Playright Robbery show I’m worried that the world just might implode by creating an infinite circle of improv.
Aug 2-27 (not 14) – 22:30 – Assembly George Square Theatre
I saw this in London last year and have to admit I was a little sceptical at first. However 5 minutes in and I was in fits of laughter watching people under hypnosis participating in scenes with Colin Mochrie. If you think about it those who can be hypnotised are ideal improv performers as you are constantly saying yes to and taking on suggestions. Asad Mecci the hypnotist is such a likeable individual as well that I could watch him for an hour by himself.
Aug 5-26 – 20:05 – Black Market
Another show with history as its focus, but this time looking at what happens if history were to be rewritten (I’m guessing Donald Trump not being born or not winning the US election will be a popular suggestion). Another show that I’ve not seen but the description sounds fun and it’s definitely on my list of ones to watch.
Aug 15-26 – 20:30 – Black Market
Another competitive improv show, although this time based on long-form rather than short-form. Two teams of improvisers battle for the audience’s affections. Line-ups of teams yet to be announced, but given the incredibly array of talent going up to Edinburgh this is sure to be a great show.
Aug 4-26 (not 6,13,20) – 21:05 – theSpace on Niddry Street
Watch This Improv present an improvised movie-adventure-extravaganza which features live musical accompaniment. Another show that I really like the sound of and will be on my to see list.
Aug 3-29 – 00:30 – Bedlam Theatre
Edinburgh’s longest running improvised comedy troupe present a short-form show with their description in the brochure promising “expert tech” (I’m a big fan of more than just lighting a stage in yellow for an improv show). Their alumni have spread their improv wings and can be seen all around the country so head to this show to be able to say you saw where improvisers first started out.
Aug 5 & 7 – 23:30 – Laughing Horse @ The Mockingbird
Coming all the way from America for two shows only, where psychological principles are used by the seven improvisers to provide some free therapy to the audience and offer a different perspective on things.
Aug 3-27 – 20:00 – Underbelly Cowgate
A live-action, text-based adventure game where the audience chooses the path taken. I’ve not managed to catch this show the numerous times its played in London, but it has been recommended to me lots of times, so I’m definitely going to catch it in Edinburgh (where it’s back for a sixth year).
Aug 5-27 – 12:15 – La Belle Angele
Men with Coconuts present a show featuring games, sketches and songs with a finale of an entirely improvised musical. Coconuts mandatory, monkeying around likely.
Aug 3-27 (not 14) – 21:15 – Laughing Horse @ The Counting House
Paul Flannery (of Knightmare Live fame) combines improvised comedy with tabletop gaming and a large 20-sided die. I’ve seen Knightmare Live a few times and really enjoyed it, so this should be great.
Aug 2-28 – 17:00 except 6, 13, 20 & 27 when 23:00– Pleasance Courtyard
Bristol Improv’s Degree’s of Error present an improvised classic murder mystery. With no Jessica Fletcher in sight I’m looking forward to seeing this (as I do love a good murder mystery).
Aug 14-19 – 12:45 – Paradise in The Vault
I’m not sure what’s more shocking, that there’s only one pirate based improv show at Edinburgh this year or that the crew of Warwick Improv have decided to go with a traditional venue rather than a pirate ship. The show description promises fast-paced, short-form improvised adventures. I’m informed that parrots are welcome at the venue.
Aug 23-27 – 15:30 – Pleasance Courtyard
I love watching Nina Conti (her BBC 4 documentary a few years ago I highly recommend) and her Monkey character is the second greatest monkey in the world (following Monkey of ITV digital and now PG tips fame). The show is advertised as completely unethical therapy session and I’m looking forward to seeing how the concept works, and also whether Monkey takes over completely. It also features Adam Meggido from Showstoppers.
Aug 2-27 (not 16) – 15:00 except 7-8 when 18:00 – Gilded Balloon Teviot
I’ve not seen the Noise Next Door live since they went from a 5 piece to a 4 piece, although their recent appearance on Tonight at the London Palladium was fantastic. What I love watching the most about the Noise Next Door is how it comes across as friends having fun together and their afternoon show is a perfect example of how to do short-form improv that all of the family can watch.
Aug 2-27 (not 16) – 22:50 – Pleasance Courtyard
I’m not going to call this the Noise Next Door’s adult show, but the later time means it’s not family-friendly. This is the 10th year at the Edinburgh Fringe for the Noise Next Door and definitely should be on your to watch list if you are a fan of games and scenes.
Aug 2-28 – 15:00 – Gilded Balloon Teviot
I saw Notflix a few times when they were a relatively new group and you could tell then that the show was going to be big. Since then they’ve had sold-out runs at various festivals and they’ve turned into one of the UK’s best musical improv groups who present a lovely alternative to the Showstoppers.
Aug 2-27 (not 14) – 13:00 – Ciao Roma
I’ve never heard of this show, but the description contains so many things that make me want to watch it. A science rapper and a neuroscientist explore the brain basis of improvisation and comedy and do something that I wish there was more of in combing science and improv (especially as there are so many improvisers who I know who come from a science background).
Aug 2-28 – 13:30 – Gilded Balloon Teviot
The Oxford Imps present a show full of games, songs and stories and the show includes special guest stars as well. I saw the Oxford Imps many years ago and they were a joy to watch. They’ve toured internationally and are also family-friendly so definitely one to catch.
Aug 3-27 (not 14) – The Stand Comedy Club 5 & 6
Phill Jupitus brings his characters of Vernon Herschel and Kurt Schiffer for an hour of storytelling that will edify, educate and entertain. Having seen Phill Jupitus do both stand-up, character pieces and improv many times over the past few years and having been amazed at how brilliant he is at all of them, I’m hoping to catch this.
Aug 10-14 – 23:00 – Pleasance Dome
Paul Foxcroft (of Cariad & Paul fame) presents a show where a party of comedians are guided through an actual game of Dungeons & Dragons. A one-night only show, that’s on five times!
Aug 14-27 – 14:00 – Pleasance Dome
Adam Meggiido and Sean McCann (both of Showstoppers fame) compete to improvised a fully authentic Shakespearean masterpiece. Poetry slams, Shakespearean verse and raps a plenty.
Aug 3-13 – 18:20 – Just the Tonic at The Mash House
The RH Experience are one of the best improv groups on the London scene and continue to produce consistently great shows each year. Their scribble show combines top-quality improv in the form of storytelling and songs against a live-illustrated backdrop and is something that you really need to watch. I also urge you to check out their YouTube channel.
Aug 3-28 – 16:30 – Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters
The show is advertised as 70% improv, 30% story-telling, so it just about meets the criteria for inclusion on this list. The show promises lots of characters and one hell of a trip so looking forward to seeing what it’s all about.
Aug 14-17 & 21-24 – 16:00 – Gilded Balloon Teviot
A story is made up live on stage based on a written beginning and the audience being told what the end is. However those taking part have no idea what direction the story is heading in whilst Sean Hughes tries to steer them to the predetermined end. An improv/storytelling cross over show that once you get your head round the premise sounds lots of fun.
Aug 3-26 (not 14) – 11:55 – Just the Tonic at The Caves
An improvised James Bond adventure that returns to the Fringe for its 3rd year in a row. Another show where I love the premise and which I hope to catch. I’ll be keeping my Goldeneye on this one!
Aug 4-26 (not 6,13 and 20) – 22:15 – theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
Hailing from York, the show description outlines the show will be high energy and full of concentrated silliness all via the form of scenes, songs and games.
Aug 14-19 – 19:10 – theSpace @ Jury’s Inn
Aug 21-26 – 18:05 – theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
Durham university’s resident improv team return to the Fringe for the 9th time with some short-form games and scenes all made up from audience suggestions.
Aug 2-27 (not 15) – 18:00 except 13 & 20 when 23:20 – Pleasance Courtyard
Oliver Award winners in 2016 – I don’t think there’s anything more to add other than go and watch this as you will not be disappointed.
Aug 5-27 – 19:50 – Liquid Room Annexe
Fans of Sherlock are in luck as this is the second improvised Sherlock Holmes comedy, although in this case the show is accompanied with live Victorian musical accompaniment (which I’m sure Holmes would approve of given his love of the violin).
Aug 2-28 – 19:15 – Gilded Balloon Teviot
I’ve seen this show performed in London and really liked both the idea and the execution. Guest comedians play the parts of lawyers with Tim Fitzhigham holding it all together as the judge. This is one call up to jury duty that I don’t mind attending.
Aug 3-27 (not 14) – 17:25 – Just the Tonic at The Community Project
An improvised chat show (one of those ideas I’m kicking myself for not having had first) where interviews with comedians inspire sketches, songs and games. The team behind this are also doing the Improvised James Bond film, so I’m looking forward to catching both of their shows.
Aug 3-27 (not 14) – 20:10 – Assembly Rooms
I’m old enough to remember Whose Line on Channel 4, one of the funniest programmes on TV and one of the reasons I decided to give improv a try in my late-20s. I’ve seen the live version in London in both 2015 and 2016 and every show has been fantastic and makes me wonder why there hasn’t been a UK revival of the TV series. Clive Anderson continues to be an excellent host keeping the other famous faces in check. If you want to watch short-form improv at its finest, there is nothing better at the Fringe.
Aug 4-12 (not 6) – 21:05 – theSpace @ Jury’s Inn
A quick-fire short-form show that returns to the Fringe for a third year running. I’ve not seen Wildly Unprepared, but it sounds like a fun show and a great alternative to some of the other improv shows at the Fringe.
Aug 4-26 (not 6 or 13) – 21:05 – SpaceTriplex
As if making up musicals or making up Shakespeare wasn’t enough this show combines the two. Originating from 1987 with improv-guru Alan Marriott, I’m looking forward to seeing how the cast 30 years later perform and whether it’s much to do about nothing or whether it’s actually a Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Aug 5-27 (not 9, 16 or 23) – 19:30 – Sneaky Pete’s
The show title is the phone number of the person performing the show, with the description asking people to call the number about anything and the show being based from the calls. Part of me wants to call to see what happens, but I’m really intrigued as to what people do end up calling about (and how much of the show is PPI or car-accident insurance claim adverts!).
Last, but not least a list of improv shows at the Edinburgh Fringe wouldn’t be complete without a small plug for our own show….
Aug 20-27 – 15:45 – Laughing Horse @ Moriarty’s
Six improvisers attempt to make it big in the bright lights of the Edinburgh fringe in this fast-paced adrenaline-fuelled show. Their showbiz agent extraordinaire will spin the wheel of games and put the team through a series of fast paces scenes, sketches and songs based on audience suggestions.
To all the acts performing at Edinburgh I hope you all have a brilliant time and hoping that improv continues to be a success at the Fringe (even if it’s not allowed to win the main comedy award).