Improv comedy has long been a mainstay of the Edinburgh Fringe, mainly focussed on London-based and university troupes. But the Scottish scene has been growing apace, and now not only does local improv talent reach far and wide across venues come August, but some of the biggest hitters this year hail from the Fringe’s own city. Here’s our round-up of some of the exciting home-grown acts at the festival in 2018.
To Be Continued’s Absolute Improv! has veteran status in our list as a long-term success story – it’s in its fifth year as an official Fringe sell-out, with an eight year history of 5* reviews. To Be Continued also hosts a weekly Sunday evening show at Monkey Barrel Comedy outwith the Fringe, playing a major role in enabling the local scene to grow and flourish year-round. Absolute Improv is family friendly, taking an early evening slot at The Space @ Niddry Street.
The Spontaneous Players move to the Gilded Balloon Rose Street Theatre with Spontaneous Potter this year, after winning the Derek Award for Best Free Show (Spontaneous Sherlock in 2017). The Players have numerous 5* reviews under their collective belt and have been nominated for a Scottish Comedy Award Best Variety Show this year. They’re undoubtedly one to watch and whether you’re Harry Potter fan or not, grab a ticket before they sell out.
Onto the free shows, starting with Men With Coconuts. These guys are in their 6th Fringe year and a frequent feature at festivals and theatres internationally, playing to critical acclaim. If you’re around during the day you can see them at lunchtime in the Liquid Room Annexe, or later in the afternoon with their second show: Improvised Bond at Venue 56. Top tip: arrive early, these guys attract a big crowd and you’ll soon see why.
Relative newbies Tinderellas are back in the Voodoo Rooms after their succesful Fringe debut there last year. Regulars on the local comedy circuit, this all-female powerhouse will be creating a nightly romcom based on audience suggestions. The Cutting Room takes an afternoon slot at the Canon’s Gait, or if you’re a history buff, check out Smoky Monkeys’ An Imp-Revised History of the World at Bar Bados (including songs made up on the spot, musical theatre style). The Smoky Monkeys have also coached a fledgling troupe who’ll be performing for one night only as part of the Just Festival, raising money for the charity Changing Faces.
The aforemnetioned are all Edinburgh-based, but there’s plenty of great Glasgow talent heading east too. Improv Cage Match, also at Bar Bados, is in its second year. Each night two teams go head to head (improvising, not wrestling), with the audience voting the winner – last year’s impressive list of guests included big names Baby Wants Candy and The Free Association. Bannermans plays host to cop parody Magnum PI, while an improvised horror film parody Slashers Prefer Blondes, will be on at Southsider.
The brand new BrewDog on Lothian Road is a recent additon to the ever expanding number of venues, and will be the home of Aberdonian troupe Widly Unprepared, representing the north of Scotland.
In the melee of flyers and posters it can be easy to gravitate toward famous names and commercial vehicles, but with so much exciting artistry happening on the doorstep, why not check out some of the local rising stars in our midst?