Since its establishment as a permanent venue on Blair Street, the Monkey Barrel has quickly become known as a haven for Scottish acts, from the well-known to those just beginning to cut their teeth in live comedy. From traditional stand-up to improv and experimental weirdness, there’s something for every taste. In only a few years as a Fringe venue, it’s attracted a line-up to rival the Big Four, with 2019 the strongest yet. While their roster includes renowned acts from all over the World, they’re still committed to showcasing local talent. As such it’s the perfect place for the first of The Wee Review’s Big Fringe Scottish Roundups, where we aim to highlight homegrown acts that deserve your attention, whether they’re Scottish natives or have made Scotland their home.
Monkey Barrel 1, 18:00, 1-25 Aug
Since Fern was last at the Fringe in 2017 her star has grown exponentially and she is one of the biggest names at The Monkey Barrel this year. As seen on Live from the BBC, Live from the Comedy Store, The Russell Howard Hour and Live at the Apollo. Power and Chaos will tackle sexuality, feminism, power, Brexit, Britishness, Scottishness and nationality. As Fern’s previous shows have sold out in traditionally tricky lunchtime slots, it’s advisable to book early as she has a plum early evening hour in 2019.
Monkey Barrel 2, 18:40, 1-25 Aug
A familiar face to anyone who’s a regular attendee at The Monkey Barrel, Liam Withnail scooped up the Best Compere award at the 2018 Scottish Comedy Awards. He’s also won plaudits for his Fringe shows, and his latest tells the tale of a three-week holiday in Japan with his wife. What could go wrong?
Monkey Barrel 5, 13:55, 1-25 Aug
The debut hour for Stuart McPherson, having split a bill with Donald Alexander in 2017 and 2018. Twice a finalist for the Scottish Comedian of the Year Award. He’s also been seen in Scot Squad, The State of It, and Comedy Underground. Finding the funny in the mess we’ve brought on ourselves, Mr November is a treatise on the utter insanity of a world that is falling apart at the seams.
Monkey Barrel 5, 16:35, 1-25 Aug
You may have seen Scottish Comedian of the Year 2016 winner Rosco McClelland on BBC Scotland’s Up For It, but it’s his stand-up that has forged his reputation. A natural storyteller, Magic Belly deals with darker and more personal themes, while styled as a turn of the twentieth-century feat of strength. Whether McClelland will be donning a leotard for the show has yet to be confirmed.
Monkey Barrel 5, 19:15, 2-25 Aug
Another much-anticipated debut hour at The Monkey Barrel. Susan Riddell’s been drawing unanimous admiration since she stepped on to the circuit. Previously described by us as ‘formidable, fearless and quick with the audience,’ we’ve had to be content with bite-sized showings so far; we can’t wait for a full sixty minutes. Duvet Day sings the praises of laziness in a manic World.
Monkey Barrel 5, 21:55, 2-25 Aug
Another former finalist of Scottish Comedian of the Year, Ben Verth is the co-founder of The Monkey Barrel, enough to make him an eternal legend of the Scottish scene on its own. He’s no slouch on the mic either, with four previous Fringe shows. As the name of the show suggests, Ben’s trying to make sense of modern life and quite possibly failing. Extra thumbs up for a good pun in the title too.
Monkey Barrel 5, 23:15, 1-25 Aug
Yet another finalist of Scottish Comedian of the Year (2018), Donald Alexander has a sense of the surreal that extends to his stage presence. He has a unique, loping physicality that complements his oddball observations beautifully. The Great is a 45 minutes work in progress dealing with topics such as purpose, the nature of perception and social isolation. A genuinely original comedian.
Monkey Barrel 5, 12:30, 1-25 Aug
An American comedian who has made Scotland her home, Krystal’s been described as ‘intelligent, warm and honest stand-up’ by the Barrel’s own Ben Verth, and ‘one to watch’, mostly because she steals drinks. She’s also come second in the Monkey Barrel’s Top Banana competition for new and up-and-coming acts. Fishnets is a 30 minutes show of sarcasm and sass.
Monkey Barrel 5, 13:10, 2-25
Soon to be seen as part of BBC Scotland’s Comedy Underground, Amy Matthews is another young comedian who’s benefited from The Monkey Barrel’s nurturing of new talent. A fixture at the club, she’s a hugely likeable and natural performer. She’s also just been named as Best Newcomer at the Scottish Comedy Awards. The Life Aquatic with Amy Matthews is 30 minutes of observational humour with an offbeat whimsical twist.