After a long day watching shows, those fringegoers with sufficient stamina have a wide choice of late-night offerings, which means the laughs can continue until dawn.
CassetteBoy Vs DJ Rubbish
There's the perennial bearpit of Late'n'Live (though it always seems more like a freakshow than a gig), a much quirkier and leftfield offering from the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, and a chirpy mix of stand-up and cabaret from the folks at Spank! There's also this proposition: a late-night mash-up of music, speech and video from the wonderfully silly Cassetteboy, the duo behind some remarkably successful YouTube cut-up clips satirising The Apprentice and Match Of The Day. They're appearing here alongside the aptly named DJ Rubbish, a deliberately dim rapper whose moronic lyrics should add another element of daftness to proceedings. Expect a remarkable fusion of beats and clips, with unusual juxtaposition the order of the day.
Pleasance Dome, to 25 Aug
Baconface: It's All Bacon
In a comedy landscape dominated by big-name stand-ups masquerading as invented characters, Canadian comic Baconface is a breath of fresh air. Always performing in a face-concealing wrestler's mask covered in rashers of bacon (hence the name), his telling-it-like-it-is observational style and infectious catchphrase of "It's all bacon" now comes to the Edinburgh fringe. A stalwart of the much-loved Calgary alternative scene in the 1980s, Baconface has had a huge (and criminally unrecognised) influence on a legion of UK stand-ups, most notably deadpan reiterator Stewart Lee, who's signed him up for the next series of his BBC2 Comedy Vehicle. What we're dealing with here is a true original, a master of what is a unique craft and a performer tipped for streaky success this summer.
The Stand, to 25 Aug
Aisling Bea: C'est La Bea
Aisling Bea is one of the hottest tips among those comics making their fringe debuts this year, all hustling to get noticed and dreaming of a place on the all-important best newcomer shortlist. Bea's already done a bit of telly for other people, appearing in Channel 4's Cardinal Burns and BBC3's Dead Boss, but she'll be wanting to make more of an impact with her own brand of cheerfully self-deprecating stand-up. She draws heavily on her upbringing in rural Ireland, painting herself as a proper bumpkin whose simple country ways leave her absolutely at sea when it comes to dealing with British city life. It's a fish-out-of-water shtick that's been done before, but Bea's achievement is to make it seem contemporary; hers seems like an authentic and original modern voice.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, to 26 Aug
The free fringe
Every year, the fringe seems to become a more expensive proposition for acts and audience members alike. If you're a fringegoer, you're faced with prices of more than £10 a pop for what can be 50 minutes of hit-and-miss entertainment. For the performers, a month in Edinburgh can land you with losses of up to (and possibly beyond, if you've got expensive tastes and your show really bombs) 10 grand. Hosannahs all round then for the continued existence of the free fringe, allowing comics to appear for minimal costs and asking audiences for a voluntary contribution only. Free doesn't mean not worth paying for: among those appearing gratuitously this month are the excellent Luke Toulson (Cabaret Voltaire, Sat to 24 Aug), with a charmingly uncomfortable tale of awkward parenthood; ukulele-playing Helen Arney (Domestic Science, Canons Gait, to 25 Aug), who mixes silly-but-sweet songs with scientific experiments; highly rated up-and-comer Fin Taylor (Globe, to 24 Aug); and Ian Cognito (Trouble With Comedy, City Cafe, to 25 Aug), the sometimes worryingly anarchic circuit legend famously banned from more venues than many other comics have ever appeared in.
Edinburgh often gives comics a chance to push themselves and explore new creative areas. One thing the fringe has seen a lot of in recent times is comedians doing drama. We've had Stephen K Amos and Marcus Brigstocke doing School For Scandal and last year Phill Jupitus teamed up with the Penny Dreadfuls' Thom Tuck for the sharp new political satire Coalition. Tuck's at it again in Wardens, a what-if comedy that visualises a ost-revolutionary Britain where the traffic wardens are the first against the wall. The play comes from the pen of emerging comic Garrett Millerick who, alongside Tuck and the always fantastic David Cann (Brass Eye, Psychoville, Jam), make up the trio of threatened meter monitors.
Assembly Roxy, to 26 Aug
David Baddiel: Fame - Not The Musical
Performers struggling to make an impact on the fringe often moan about the presence of big-name comics. But returning elder statesman are a different proposition: stand-ups who use the festival as a means of reconnecting with the art form and finding something new to say. Baddiel is one such figure. He inexplicably irritates some people, but for devotees his strengths are massive: a brutally honest performer who wears his weaknesses on his sleeve, and a charmingly downbeat commentator on the state of the world.
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