The Stand is Edinburgh’s year-round comedy HQ, but it really comes into its own in August, with six rooms dotted around this corner of New Town, as well as a base in St. Andrew’s Square, and a sister venue in the Assembly Rooms. Founder Tommy Sheppard is now a popular SNP MP, and twenty years on from the first Stand comedy night, when only seven people turned up, his little comedy club has also grown to be nationally recognised. Many of the great and the good of the comedy world have earned their stripes in the Stand’s basement.
There are plenty of stars both established and on-the-ascendant here again this year. In the former category, you’ll find Mark Watson, Stephen K Amos and Shazia Mirza all trying out works-in-progress. Also in attendance will be TV quizhead and former Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Paul Sinha, back after a few years away with new show Postcards From The Z List. Canadian Katherine Ryan has quickly become one of comedy’s most familiar TV faces too and introduces her new show, Kathbum, at Stand 3, while another big name is 2013’s Edinburgh Comedy Award winner, Bridget Christie. She has taken the theme of her award-winner A Bic For Her and run with it all the way to the publishers. A Book For Her is designed, by her own admission, to flog her literary debut.
Jo Caulfield is a regular round Edinburgh, notably as host of the Speakeasy nights at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. She’s at Stand 1, recounting some Awkward Conversations. Another weel-kent face is Vladimir McTavish. Active, to say the least, in the independence debate, expect satirical sniping as he looks back at 45 Events That Shaped A Nation.
But it’s worth taking a punt on some newcomers too. Stand Rising every evening at 22:30 gives audiences a chance to see those newbies who’ve been making waves at the Stand throughout the year. Not a newcomer in the strictest sense, but a Fringe debutante, Jena Friedman plays Stand 5 from 18 August. She spoke to our Tabatha Glancy about the show here.
There’s a lot of anger/disillusionment/bitterness in the house. Homicidal Pacifist Sameena Zehra unveils her “culling list”, Fern Brady thinks People Are Idiots, while Phil Nichol simply Don’t Want To Talk About It. If it’s “issues” you’re after, it’s also worth paying a visit to the spoken word Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas sets at Stand In The Square, where academics, thinkers and researchers get to speak their brains. And don’t forget a full programme of events at The Assembly Rooms. You could easily spend most of your Fringe in this part of town and not be bored for a second.