Note: This review is from the 2016 Fringe

After an incredible 30th year, the Gilded Balloon move into their 31st year with a new era in programming and new territories at the National Museum and at the Counting House.

The three year deal with the National Museums of Scotland will see them programming 18 productions, covering adult and children’s theatre, comedy and music. There’ll be household names, as well as emerging national and international artists.

Gilded Balloon at the Museum highlights include: Rory Bremner Meets . . . (13-19 August) seven shows of comedy and conversation with hand-picked, special guests, in which Rory and each guest will perform a short set with lively conversation in between; and Night at the Museum, where you can join the best comedians from across the globe as they blur the line between arteFACT and arteFICTION in an improvised set prompted by genuine objects found in the National Museum of Scotland archives! This unrehearsed “show and tell” might not be historically, or even culturally accurate, but it’s guaranteed to be 100% entertaining. With different comedians taking to the stage each night to deliver their improvised, uneducaTED talks on some of Scotland’s most cherished relics, what could possibly go wrong?

Another line up show worth investigating is the 25th year of Mervyn Stutter’s Pick of the Fringe. If you want to get a flavour of a range of shows and value for money, this is a ticket worth buying. Mervyn and his team research the Fringe and bring you live extracts from seven top shows in a packed 90 minute lunchtime extravaganza. The line up changes, so check the boards daily for who’s performing or take pot luck. It’s guaranteed you’ll end up booking some of the full shows after seeing this.

And children are in for various treats across the Gilded Balloon. At the Museum, there’s Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur from award winning Story Pocket Theatre and Mark Thompson’s Spectacular Science Show ,which will dispel the myth that science is boring as he explores the strange and magical properties of matter. There’ll be exploding elephant’s toothpaste, vortex generating dustbins, dancing paste, vanishing beakers and even exploding Pringles tubes.

Another family show using science is Kevin Quantum (formerly Kevin McMahon) with his new offering Illuminations. Ten years ago, unassuming scientist Kevin paused his Physics PhD to become a magician, being tutored by none other than magic royalty Penn & Teller for TV show Faking It.

Kevin will be shooting magic into the 21st century by illustrating scientific principles so amazing you need to turn to magic to express them live. It may sound heavy but it will be anything but as Kevin Quantum has designed state of the art magic and fused it with incredible science.

And for fans old enough to remember the Candyskins, lead singer and songwriter, Nick Cope, will be entertaining little and not so little fans with his own brand of acoustic folk-rock mixed with the world of children’s music in Nick Cope’s Family Songbook. Aimed at the 0-8s, the show touches on all aspects of family life, delivered in a non-patronizing and humorous style with well-crafted and catchy songs. If you like potty humor with lyrics such as ‘The Baby’s Done a Poo’, then this show might appeal.

Gilded Balloon may be renowned for comedy but don’t overlook their theatre programming.

Angel by Henry Naylor is based on the mysterious and true story of the Angel of Kobane: the female sniper who is said to have killed 100 Jihadis. If Naylor’s Fringe offering last year, Echoes, is anything to go by, audiences should book Angel. Last year’s Echoes won seven major international Fringe awards, including a Fringe First and transferred both Off-West End and Off-Broadway.

In a world premiere, Scottish singer songwriter, Horse McDonald in Careful takes the audience on her inspirational story of her triumph over adversity through music.  Growing up gay in Lanark in the 70s when the reward is half a pack of fruit pastilles and when the lady on the train tells you about the doctor you should meet, there are times in life when you need to be careful.

There’s some strong themes running through Gilded Balloon’s programme including politics, feminism and sexuality, and health. Two shows, Beth Vyse: As Funny as Cancer and Lana Schwarcz: Lovely Lady Lump with very different takes, feature a defiant call to arms and fight back against breast cancer.

Gilded Balloon’s programming at the Counting House will be use an alternative model in order to help the smaller (and newer) performers present their work. The audience can either buy a ticket in advance to secure a seat, or go into a show and pay what they want at the end. Highlights of the programme include Amy Howerska, Katia Kvinge, Ed Night, Andrea Hubert, The Free Association Presents and Blushed.

And roaring into its 29th year of So You Think You’re Funny?, this competition remains fresh thanks to the high calibre of brand-new talent itching to take part. After heats all over the UK, So You Think You’re Funny? is the definitive place at the Fringe to discover the stand-ups of the future.

Nearly every comic working in the UK today has passed through this competition since its inception in 1986 including Johnny Vegas, Lee Mack, David O’Doherty and Aisling Bea, to name a few.

And back for the second year is the first and only comedy competition for high school students at the Fringe, Class Clowns, won last year by our very own Joe Gardner.

And returning for its milestone 30th anniversary is Late ‘n’ Live – the original, wildest and the latest of late-night shows at the Fringe, which will continue to entertain late night audiences with unadulterated comedy and mayhem. If you can hack the pace, you need to put this on your agenda – just so you can say – ‘been there, done that!’

Full Gilded Balloon programme at

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