15 rising stand-up comedy stars you need to see at Edinburgh Fringe 2022

·9-min read
L-R: Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Bilal Zafar, Lauren Pattison, and Erika Ehler (Pictures: Courtesy of Publicist)
L-R: Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Bilal Zafar, Lauren Pattison, and Erika Ehler (Pictures: Courtesy of Publicist)

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh Fringe, the biggest arts festival in the world. For the whole month of August, Edinburgh will once again become the centre of the comedy universe. Big arena comics and television celebrities dominate the headlines, but the best acts are more under the radar.

From debut performers eager to make a splash to more established acts ready for world domination, here’s our must-see Edinburgh Fringe shows from the rising stars of the UK comedy scene.

Alasdair Beckett-King

The show: Alasdair Beckett-King: Nevermore

What is it?: Alasdair Beckett-King is unlike any other performer you’ll see at the Edinburgh Fringe. Endlessly inventive, you’d swear he has a small army of writers and creatives behind his work. Alasdair’s sweet spot is taking something seemingly highbrow or otherwise niche and undercutting it with inspired daftness. An expert at parody and whimsical world-building, he is either a genius or a very silly man.

Where is it?: Pleasance Dome (JackDome)

When is it?: 3-21 and 23-29 August, 7pm

Bilal Zafar

The show: Bilal Zafar: Care

What is it?: It’s hard to do justice to Zafar’s brand of off-kilter humour in a short description — it would be like trying to explain how Bob Mortimer pretending to be a commuter on a train is funny. The pandemic led to Bilal finding a superbly ridiculous niche as the ‘gaffer’ of Hot Peppsy Football Manager on Twitch, but his stand-up is a joyfully absurd treat on its own, where you’re laughing so hard it takes you a while to see the profound points he’s making.

Where is it?: Underbelly, Bristo Square (Jersey)

When is it?: August 3-14 and 16-29, 5.30pm

Bilal Zafar (Picture: Leslie Byron Pitt)
Bilal Zafar (Picture: Leslie Byron Pitt)

Erika Ehler

The show: Erika Ehler: Femcel

What is it?: Originally from Toronto, Erika Ehler now resides in Manchester, where she puts on ‘Comedy for Hot People’. Ehler has a daringly provocative style, clearly not afraid to put all the right noses out of joint, and the premise of her Edinburgh Fringe show — a subversion of the ‘incel’ movement to create the far more fearsome ‘femcel’ — sounds like a blast. The only downside being that her commanding stage presence and acerbic wit may give her more ‘simps’ than she knows what to do with.

Where is it?: Monkey Barrel Comedy (Carnivore 1)

When is it?: 1-18 August, 9.40pm

Josh Jones

The show: Josh Jones: Waste of Space

What is it?: There’s massive anticipation around Josh Jones’ debut Fringe show, as anyone who’s seen him live knows that he’s a star in the making. Josh has made his bones on the comedy circuit and worked hard to hone his natural talent, and he’s become a confident and assured performer at a young age. A combination of high camp and Mancunian gobbiness gives him a cocksurity and edge that is crude, rude, and funny.

Where is it?: Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Three)

When is it?: 3-14 and 16-28 August, 8.30pm

Erika Ehler (Picture: Matt Crockett)
Erika Ehler (Picture: Matt Crockett)

Josh Pugh

The show: Josh Pugh: Sausage, Egg, Josh Pugh, Chips and Beans

What is it?: Josh Pugh’s emergence as an online phenomenon comes as no surprise to anyone who has witnessed him rip it up at clubs up and down the country the past few years. A brilliantly gifted gag writer, Josh has the wry delivery and subtlety of performance that not only marks him out as a must-see stand-up, but points to a bright future in comedic acting — exemplified by his winning turn in the critically-acclaimed Sneakerhead.

Where is it?: Monkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 4)

When is it?: 3-14 and 17-28 August, 2.10pm

Kiri Pritchard-McLean

The show: Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Home Truths

What is it?: Appearances on Have I Got News For You and Would I Lie to You? may not scream ‘rising’ star, but you get the sense that Kiri Pritchard-McLean is just getting started. Having spent much of the pandemic providing her fellow comics with (much needed) income via her ‘Covid Arms’ virtual gigs, the Welsh talent can now focus on getting hers. For her Edinburgh Fringe show, expect sequins, social commentary, and massive laughs from the renaissance woman of UK comedy.

Where is it?: Monkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 3)

When is it?: 3-28 August, 7.05pm

Kiri Pritchard-McLean (Picture: Drew Forsyth)
Kiri Pritchard-McLean (Picture: Drew Forsyth)

Kwame Asante

The show: Kwame Asante: Living in Sin

What is it?: An Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee and NHS doctor, Kwame Asante has can explore very specific and personal societal issues in such a deft and artful way that they become universal and hugely relatable. This year’s show has a heavy-sounding theme (‘the place of religion in modern life, modern love and modern medicine’), but trust in Kwame’s lightness of touch and innate gift to personalise the most contentious of subjects to make them entertainingly inclusive.

Where is it?: Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One)

When is it?: 3-16 and 18-28 August, 4.45pm

Larry Dean

The show: Larry Dean: Fudnut

What is it?: The emotional, financial, and professional toll of the pandemic on all of the comics on this list cannot be underestimated, but for some, like Glasgow’s Larry Dean, there’s the added frustration that they were on the very cusp of stardom. For Dean, it’s more than overdue. He has everything in his locker to be massive — he is stitch-inducingly funny, an expert regaler of daft, often bawdy stories, and just incredibly and irresistibly likeable.

Where is it?: Monkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 3)

When is it?: 4-15 and 17-28 August, 8.30pm

Lauren Pattison

The show: Lauren Pattison: It Is What It Is

What is it?: With infectious energy and a relentless optimism in the face of her many misadventures (which she recounts with self-deprecating zeal), Pattison is an engaging storyteller with flair and purpose. She addresses her audience in the chatty manner of a Geordie best friend needing cathartic release, and rewards them with plenty of laughs along the way, mostly at her own expense. Her autobiographical style is animated, fizzing with a defiant spirit and bursting with indomitable vigour.

Where is it?: Monkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 1)

When is it?: 3-15 and 17-28 August, 12.30pm

Lauren Pattison (Picture: Matt Crockett)
Lauren Pattison (Picture: Matt Crockett)

Rachel Fairburn

The show: Rachel Fairburn: Can I Be Awful?

What is it?: Very much the rock’n’roll star of British comedy, Fairburn combines the searing wit of Noel with the swagger and front of Liam as she gives full reign to her darkly funny ‘awful’ side. A supremely accomplished observational comic at the very height of her powers, Rachel is a rare find at the Edinburgh Fringe, a genuinely working-class voice, who is louder, funnier, and infinitely more charismatic than any number of trust-fund kids in the scene.

Where is it?: Monkey Barrel Comedy (Hive 1)

When is it?: 3-28 August, 5.40pm

Sarah Keyworth

The show: Sarah Keyworth: Lost Boy

What is it?: You should go and see Sarah Keyworth because she’s really, really good — at everything. Whether it’s commanding a room full of pissed-up revellers on a Friday night with a gag-heavy tight twenty, or expanding into a witty, poignant, thoughtful (and still hilarious) hour-long show, Keyworth is one of the best stand-ups in the country, with an irresistibly funny, matter-of-fact handling of hot button topics like gender politics and culture wars.

Where is it?: Pleasance Courtyard (Cabaret Bar)

When is it?: 3-15 and 17-28 August, 5.40pm

Rachel Fairburn (Picture: Tall Guy Pictures)
Rachel Fairburn (Picture: Tall Guy Pictures)

Sikisa

The show: Sikisa: Life of the Party

What is it?: Madonna. Adele. Zendaya. Rihanna. Some stars only need one name. Sikisa is from South London with Barbadian roots, and every part of mono-monikered talent’s identity imbues her dazzling comedy. That authenticity is what has led to the pre-Fringe buzz around her debut hour. Expect a vividly immersive party atmosphere.

Where is it?: Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Below)

When is it?: 3-16 and 18-28 August, 8.25pm

Troy Hawke

The show: Troy Hawke: Sigmund Troy’d!

What is it?: For all that’s bad about the social media age, there’s much to be said for the way genuine talent can suddenly catch fire and explode into the mainstream. Troy Hawke is an excellent case in point; a wonderfully charming and well-observed comedy creation who has been on the scene for a while, it is thanks to his recent online virality that the world is finally catching up. Fans of the ‘Greeter’s Guild’ (where Hawke stands outside places like B&Q and WHSmith to greet patrons with dandy words of encouragement) are about to realise what a three-dimensional and well-honed character Troy Hawke really is.

Where is it?: Underbelly, Bristo Square (Jersey)

When is it?: 3-14 and 16-28 August, 7pm

Vittorio Angelone (Picture: Rebecca Need-Menear)
Vittorio Angelone (Picture: Rebecca Need-Menear)

Vittorio Angelone

The show: Vittorio Angelone: Translations

What is it?: While so many people seem to deal in absolutes, Angelone doesn’t claim to have the answers. Instead, he is relentlessly and stingingly questioning a highly questionable world. Praised by peers for his precocious rise, Vittorio is surface-level devilment with hidden depths of feeling underneath. Come for the caustic wit, stay for a poignancy that never strays into shameless pandering.

Where is it?: Monkey Barrel Comedy (Carnivore 2)

When is it?: 1-2, 4-16, and 18-28 August, 2.05pm

Will Duggan

The show: Will Duggan: Iceberg

What is it?: The world doesn’t always get on with Will Duggan. In fact, it often leaves him in a state of exasperated incredulity. Still, watching one of Kettering’s top two comics openly wage a losing battle against life makes for great fun. Will’s stage presence is generally deadpan but not low energy fare: the ebb and flow of his constant woe, only exacerbated by the fact we aren’t all as flustered as he is, is a joy to behold. A brilliantly funny fed-up man.

Where is it?: Pleasance Courtyard (The Cellar)

When is it?: 3-14 and 16-28 August, 3.25pm

Edinburgh Fringe takes place from 5-29 August.

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