Edinburgh Fringe

15 pay-what-you-want comedy recommendations for Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Nobody was quite sure how Bob Slayer’s new pay-what-you-want model for his brilliant Heroes franchise would work when he introduced it a couple of years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe.

A few Fringes later though, and the evidence is clear that the model – which allows people to pay a modest price (around £5) to guarantee a seat or risk it and turn up in a similar fashion to traditional free shows – has been a resounding boon for the Festival, allowing acts to make proper money with minimum overheads.

We’ve previously included PWYW shows as part of our free show Fringe recommendations, but we feel the model is now distinct and successful enough (it’s been taken up by several other large promoters) to warrant its own category.

And, as expected, most shows are part of Bob’s Heroes movement, which has now extended beyond its home of The Hive to nearby Dragonfly and Bob’s Blundabus, where Bob his doing his own PWYW show.

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Adam Larter

Adam Larter’s Return on Investment

Business! Big phones! Cocaine that smells like talcum powder! The man behind weirdos comedy club has turned his attentions to the world of Business in the 80’s. The results are something between Office Space, the Wolf of Wall Street and and the Banana Splits. Supported by an amazing cast including Marny Godden, Lucy Pearman (of LetLuce) and Joz Norris (whose line delivery is at risk of stealing the show).

Adam Larter’s Return on Investment
Heroes @ The Hive
6-14, 16-28 August, 12:50pm
PWYW / £5 adv

matthew highton edfringe

Matthew Highton

I, The Universe

Never a man to let pragmatics get in the way of a good idea, Matthew’s ambitious effort this year seems him play the part of the universe. Bold moves are what we’ve come to expect from Highton, who’s made a name for himself as a surreal storyteller, blending fantastical scenarios with a tight narrative that manages to make sense of the madness.

Matthew Highton: I, The Universe
Heroes @ The Hive
4-14, 16-28 August, 2pm
PWYW / £5 adv

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Ali Brice

Home Is Where Eric Meat Is

Ali introduced the world to Eric Meat in 2014, creating a Fringe show that was messy, silly and sublime, yet with a genuine emotional heart for this lonely, loveless character.

Ali Brice Presents Home Is Where Eric Meat Is
Heroes @ The Hive
4-6, 9-28 August, 2.10pm
PWYW / £5 adv

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Thom Tuck

Thom: Foolery with Thom Tuck

A simple but great premise from Thom Tuck, co-founder of ACMS, one third of Penny Dreadfuls, Best Newcomer nominee and all-round Fringe legend. A rotating mixed bill show, but only with people called Tom/Thom/Thomas. As a Tom, I can’t think of many better ideas. Line-ups posted daily on turlygod.com.

Thom: Foolery with Thom Tuck
Heroes @ Dragonfly
4-14, 16-27 August, 3pm
PWYW / £5 adv

grainne maguire

Grainne Maguire

What Has The News Ever Done For Me?

One of the sharpest political comics in the country today, Grainne’s love of justice is matched only by her love of Ed Miliband. Fresh from appearing on Question Time and brilliantly taking on anti-abortion campaigners in Ireland by live tweeting her menstrual cycle, Grainne hosts this topical panel show where a rotating line-up of comedians will discuss what’s going on in the news. They’ll be lucky to get anything though – it seems like there’s absolutely nothing going on at the moment.

Grainne Maguire: What Has The News Ever Done For Me?
Heroes: Bob’s Blundabus
5-9, 11-16, 18-28 August, 3.15pm
PWYW / £5 adv

adam hess

Adam Hess


In an early preview with Laugh Out London, Adam Hess’s 2016 show already showcased his credentials as the man most guaranteed to make you laugh at the Fringe. Combining brilliant one-liners with fantastically manic stories and a naturally funny stage presence, I imagine this will have more laughs per minute than anything else in Edinburgh this year.

Adam Hess: Feathers
Heroes @ The Hive
5-28 August, 4:10pm
PWYW / £5 adv

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Joe Davies

Who’s The Daddy?

One of the most endearing comics on the circuit, Joe is instantly lovable and full of engaging and interesting stories and takes on life that more often than not defy convention. This promises to be a particularly engrossing show, telling the true story of how Joe found his real dad and becoming a father himself.

Joe Davies: Who’s The Daddy?
Heroes @ Dragonfly
5-15, 17-28 August, 5pm
PWYW / £5 adv

pat cahill edfringe

Pat Cahill


Last year Pat charmed all with his repertoire of war-time influenced nonsense songs. We’re sure this year’s “box set of optimistic bollocks” won’t let us down.

Pat Cahill: D.O.T.T
Heroes @ The Hive
4-15, 17-28 August, 5.30pm
PWYW / £5 adv

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Michael Brunstrom

The Hay Wain Reloaded

Maybe the most innovative and unusual alternative comic working today, Michael has preivosuly performed as a river and performed impersonations of airports. He’s a Malcolm Hardy Award winner for comic originality and deservedly so.

Michael Brunstrom: The Hay Wain Reloaded
Heroes @ Dragonfly
4-13 August, 6pm
PWYW / £5 adv

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Glenn Moore

Glengarry Glen Glenn

Great on Twitter and bloody great on stage. A fast-rising star who knows the craftsmanship of a good joke.

Glenn Moore: Glengarry Glen Glenn
Just the Tonic @ The Caves
4-14, 16-28 August, 6pm
PWYW / £5 adv

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Jack Barry

You Don’t Know Jack

Like his Twins colleague Annie McGrath, Jack is also going solo this year with what will undoubtedly be a solid hour of great-stand from someone destined for success.

Jack Barry: You Don’t Know Jack
Just the Tonic @ The Mash House
4-14, 16-28 August, 6.40pm
PWYW / £5 adv

joz norris edfringe

Joz Norris

Hello, Goodbye

No matter how your Fringe is going, how wet it is outside, how tired you are, how hungover you or how many student theatre pieces you’ve seen, Joz Norris is among the few shows to guarantee you leave with a smile and warmed heart. Engaging and affable with a penchant for silly ideas that will stick in your head.

Joz Norris: Hello, Goodbye
Heroes @ The Hive
4-14, 16-28 August, 6.40pm
PWYW / £5 adv

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Spencer Jones

The Herbert in Eggy Bagel

One of a few real breakout stars of the 2015 Fringe for his brilliant show of playful, prop-based fun, Spencer is back and Edinburgh is all the better for it. You can catch last year’s acclaimed show too at the Underbelly.

Spencer Jones Presents The Herbert in Eggy Bagel
Heroes @ The Hive
4-14, 16-28 August, 8.50pm
PWYW / £5 adv

harriet kemsley edfringe

Harriet Kemsley

The Girl On The Wrong Train

One of our favourite comedians working in the UK today, Harriet has a knack for enticing you into her idiosyncratic world of odd ideas and thoughtful curiosity. She keeps getting better and better.

Harriet Kemsley: The Girl On The Wrong Train
Just the Tonic @ The Caves
4-14, 16-28 August, 9.25pm
PWYW / £5 adv

fin taylor edfringe

Fin Taylor

Whitey McWhiteface

As Fin says himself, he hopes that Boaty McBoatface is still vaguely topical by the time August rolls around. One thing for sure, his subject of White privilege will certainly not be going anywhere soon. There some very strong routines packed in here in a show that’s a near the knuckle experience that may not be for the faint hearted but definitely the open minded.

Fin Taylor: Whitey McWhiteface
Gilded Balloon at the Counting House
3-28 August, 11:15pm
PWYW / £5 adv

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