Comedy blog

Best free comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014

In our second list of Edinburgh Fringe comedy recommendations we take a look of some of the top free shows this August.

Free shows have boomed over the past few years, attracting big names such as Phill Jupitus and Robin Ince and giving acts freedom to experiment without fear of losing thousands.


It was last year that the various free factions broke through into the mainstream with John Kearns’ victory in the Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer category after a glorious hour on the PBH Free Fringe at the Voodoo Rooms.

John is in the same venue at the same time and the same price this year, and he’s joined by a host of equally brilliant acts, including Best Newcomer nominee Liam Williams and other big names. Some of the best are below.

Please note, although these shows are billed as free, acts do encourage donations at the end. And this list includes shows from Bob Slayer’s brilliant Heroes of the Fringe which lets punters risk getting in for free or pay £5 to guarantee a seat.

jessie emerJessie Cave + Emer Kenny


I didn’t know what a ‘grawlix’ was before this show. And now I’m very glad I do. So thanks to Jessie and Emer, both of whom are very established comedy actors; Jessie has been in Harry Potter, Simon Amstell’s Grandma’s House and loads more while Emer has popped up in Badults and Pramface. A great combination who promise comic strip style sketches.

Laughing Horse at Espionage
Jul 31-Aug 25, noon

human loireMichael Brunström

Human Loire

I’m still struggling to understand the concept of a show whose star is ‘part man, part longest river in France’. Nevertheless, I’m still excited to see just how things turn out. Michael has become an essential member of Weirdos and Laugh Out London’s comedy experiments the past few months, so be prepared for the unusual.

Aug 16-25, 1pm

chris boy edinburgh fringeChris Boyd

Caution to the Wind

He was many people’s favourite character in Hook and The Colonel, complete with sellotaped face. But this August Chris Boyd gets personal, telling us about his adoration of all things storm. It’s directed by Ben Target too.

Banshee Labyrinth
Aug 2-23, 1.10pm

liam-williams-capitalism_2014LIAMWIL_ABQLiam Williams


He narrowly missed out on picking up Best Newcomer last year after John Kearns pipped him to the post, but in truth, there was little to separate such brilliant shows. We expect more of the same this year.

Laughing Horse at the Cellar Monkey
Jul 31 – Aug 25, 1.15pm

grainne edfringe freeGrainne Maguire

What Has The News Ever Done For Me?

Grainne has proven herself a dab hand at many things – political stand up comedy, writing for Radio 4 and loving Ed Miliband. And now she’s bringing a new live topical panel show to the Fringe where each day three comics will try to persuade Gráinne and the audience why the news story that has most impacted their life that week is the most important.

Viva Mexico
Aug 2-23, 1.15pm

pippa evansPippa Evans

Don’t Worry, I Don’t Know Who I Am Either

Pippa is one of the hardest working and versatile comics on the circuit giving her talents to the improvised musical Showstoppers, numerous Radio 4 shows and her own mentally disturbed character creation Loretta Maine. But here she is as herself at last.

Aug 2-24, 1.45pm

ali-brice-presents-eric-meat-wants-to-go-shopping_2014ALIBRIC_J3Ali Brice

Eric Meat Wants To Go Shopping

Since starring in the Weirdos production The Colonel last Christmas Ali has come into his own as an assured, dynamic and exciting character performer. Eric Meat is his leading creation, bringing an energy built on unpredictably and complete originality. You’ll likely meet a few others too, including Neil Buchanan and Phil Collins.

Heroes at the Hive
Jul 31 – Aug 24, 2pm
Pay what you want or £5 to guarantee a seat

ben target edinburgh fringeBen Target

Hooray for Ben Target

After winning a lot of acclaim and a Best Newcomer nomination for his magnificent 2012 show, Ben made the wise decision to take a year off from Edinburgh and develop a show as unique and imaginative as that glorious debut. We don’t know what to expect. This is probably for the best.

Banshee Labyrinth
Aug 2-24, 2pm

matt highton edinburgh fringeMatthew Highton

Good Luck Sleeping Jerks

Matt always makes our ‘must-see’ list of shows for a very simple reason – they’re always very, very good. Whereas in the past he’s teased audiences with tall tales of ridiculous adventures, this year he promises to take on issues more close to home.

Heroes at the Hive
Aug 4-24, 3pm
Pay what you want or £5 to guarantee a seat

hatty ashdown edinburgh fringeHatty Ashdown

Hurry Up Hatty

In 2012 Hatty Ashdown told Edinburgh audiences all about her upbringing as a ‘nan child’ in Kent. Now’s the time for the rest of the story, including tales of failed jobs, embarrassing siblings and bathroom fashion.

Laughing Horse at the Wee Pub
Aug 1-24, 3.45pm

cariad lloyd louise ford edinburgh fringeCariad Lloyd and Louise Ford

Cariad and Louise’s Character Hour

I caught an early preview of this in Peckham and already this was looking like a show of magical chaos and invention. Cariad is one of the best improvisers and character comedians in the country and has yet to put a Fringe foot wrong. Louise is an equally capable partner and the duo’s versatility and natural ability to make each other and an audience laugh should make this a highlight.

Laughing Horse at the Counting House
Aug 1-24, 4pm

big society edinburgh frnigeKristian D Kirklan

Big Society

I’d rather not write too much about this show other than go see it. It’s directed by Adam Larter – head of Weirdos – and it stars the man who spent much of his 2011 show shouting despair underneath his stage.

Phones 4U
Aug 1-25, 4.15pm

matt winning lolly edinburgh fringeMatt Winning and Lolly Adefope

Matt Winning and Lolly Adefope

Ashamedly, we’ve still to see either Matt or Lolly. But the buzz around these two is so strong you can probably hear it from Edinburgh already. One does experimental and awkward stand-up the other masquerades her deep-rooted insecurities as character comedy. What could go wrong?

Aug 2-23, 4.30pm

adam hess edinburgh fringeAdam Hess


Maybe the best person at Twitter there is. And also one of the best people at standing up and telling funny stories and jokes on a stage too. Few acts have such unadulterated energy and enthusiasm.

Heroes at the Hive
Jul 31 – Aug 24, 5pm
Pay what you want or £5 to guarantee a seat

john kearnsJohn Kearns


Undoubtedly the best show we saw last year, encapsulating the insecurity that not quite fitting in brings and just what goes through the head of a man while on holiday along in Berlin. He’s bizarre and intoxicating and just brilliant.

Voodoo Rooms
Aug 2-23, 5.05pm

burger vanSh!t Theatre, Tim Hopkins and Phil O’Shea

Burger Van

Becca and Louise of Sh!t Theatre are two of of the most brilliantly inventive young satirists this country. Smart and talented, this duo have received numerous plaudits and awards for their deeply cutting, funny shows that mix music, comedy and polemic to wonderful, moving effect. Phil is a great stand-up too, while Tim Hopkins is an exciting up and coming playwright.

Phones 4U
Aug 1-25, 5.30pm

tim renkowTim Renkow

At Least Hell Has Ramps

Tim has numerous award credits to his name (Leicester Square New Comedian of the Year winner, Chortle’s Best Newcomer nominee and Student Finalist) for a dark sense of humour that explores what he calls “the funny side of being judged on appearance, violence and God”.

Heroes at the Hive
July 31 – Aug 24, 6pm
Pay what you want or £5 to guarantee a seat

john luke robertsJohn Luke Roberts


An annual Fringe favourite who always amazes with his reinvention of the form. He’s become a hero of the alternative scene thanks to co-founding ACMS and his solo efforts are just as brilliant.

Voodoo Rooms
Aug 2-24, 6.05pm

harriet kemsley edinburgh fringeHarriet Kemsley

The Irrational Fears of Rillettes

Harriet’s been picking up awards all over the place. And no wonder, she’s been a breath of fresh air since hitting the circuit in 2011. Since then, she’s only grown in confidence and has been influenced by the Weirdos collective to carry on experimenting.

Laughing Horse at the Counting House
Aug 1-24, 7pm

lou-sanders-in-another-great-show-again_2014LOUSAND_J4Lou Sanders

Another Great Show Again

Her 2012 show was packed with ideas that you doubt anyone had ever come up with before in the entire history of human thought. If anything, Lou has only got more daring and exciting.

Laughing Horse at City Cafe
Jul 31 – Aug 24, 10.30pm

Other recommendations

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