Queer Folks’ Tales host Turan Ali issues a warm, inviting welcome to the queer members of the audience as well as the handful of ‘brave’ heterosexuals in witty, disarming fashion. Tonight, we’re here for a Fringe performance of the bi-monthly storytelling event – now scheduled to run until at least December 2024 – and are told proceedings will take a slightly different form from the usual structure. Six LGBTQIA storytellers will each perform a ten-minute tale, interspersed with micro-stories both from our host and from audience contributions. Ali launches the evening with one such such story – a ‘de-gaying’ of his Margate house – before we hear from our first guest storyteller.

Eliott Simpson, a stand-up comedian, tells us of the difficulties of dating as an asexual, along with the stereotypes and misconceptions he often faces. He is gregarious and excitable in his delivery and the story centres on a happy coupling up, creating a warm atmosphere and setting us up for subsequent performers.

Our second guest is Cera Impala, with a different form of storytelling altogether. The singer is from the South-West USA and briefly introduces the context to her first song, Texas Tea, before serenading us with a beautiful folk-blues ukulele ballad. Her honeyed voice is full of soul, husk, and sensitivity, and she follows up with the tender, banjo-accompanied, Naked, transfixing us.

Drag artist Bella Houston closes the opening act and begins with a killer first line: “There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good funeral.” She is a character actor and the story she tells is clearly a fabrication, but does what the best stories do – touches a universal emotion that penetrates the fiction and results in a genuinely moving moment. She also drops in a Jackie Bird joke along the way that is the standout punchline of the event and has the audience howling.

The second act is opened by Janette Ayachi, an accomplished poet who is ‘off-book’ tonight. She brings us a sweeping love-life history culminating in an account of her present relationship and how she connected with her partner. As you’d expect from such a skilled writer, her evocative turns of phrase are carefully chosen and she imaginatively paints visuals and vivid scenarios for the audience.

Our host, Ali, returns to the spotlight for his main story – a raunchy tale from his time in the gay saunas of Geneva, delivering some of the night’s juiciest details. His attitude is unapologetic yet light-hearted and the seasoned raconteur builds us towards bawdy laughs, looking at sexual exploration and experiments gone awry.

Finally, returning Queer Folks’ Tales star Kate Hammer takes centre-stage. As an experienced stand-up, Kate is magnificent in playing with the audience’s reactions and creating a rapport with us. Her story is interestingly structured, beginning with a ‘breakup’ with a flatmate, before diving further into her psyche and other tangentially-connected memories. Like the best comics, she makes us laugh with perfect punchlines yet hones in on some profound ideas, inviting us all to reflect on our own identities and our protectiveness of them.

The night is a success and Queer Folks’ Tales lives up to its reputation as Edinburgh’s most vibrant, authentic, and exciting storytelling event. The best part? It lives on beyond its August run at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and regularly sells out. Book now.