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Edinburgh Fringe who's who #3 – top 10 newcomers
This year is all about the newbies. The Fringe brochure may not exactly be name-dropping like a garrulous taxi driver, but there's plenty of hot new talent to be found.
And that's kind of how it should be, surely? Maybe a few more flourishing comics could be persuaded into giving the Edinburgh greenhouse a miss, leaving more tray space for the seedlings. Mind you, some of the below are already like a fully grown comedy oak!
So here are EiF's 10 top tips among the debutants:
• Josh Widdicombe: If This Show Saves One Life (7.15pm, Pleasance Courtyard)
Hasn't mucked about. Only started comedy a few years ago and already has a few gongs in his bog. Namely the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year (which is a bigger deal than it sounds) and the FHM Stand-up Hero. Pretty straightforward observational/storytelling, with serious comic heft.
• James Acaster: Amongst Other Things (9.45pm, Pleasance Courtyard)
On the face of it a wispy cardigan-wearing nerdy comic – only this one's got titanium alloy backbone and balls! Acaster (pictured) deals mainly in silliness, but with such a level of commitment, it should appeal to anyone.
• Catie Wilkins: A Chip Off the Odd Block (8pm, Udderbelly's Pasture)
A stock-in-trade of the newcomer, the autobiographical show, elevated by some superb writing.
• Tom Bell Begins (3.40pm, the Tron)
Indie pin-up and rake, formerly of excellent sketch duo Tommy and the Weeks, makes his solo debut. It's stand-up, but not hard joke telling, more weaving of absurd tales, and he's really rather good at it.
• Tom Rosenthal: Child of Privilege (9.30pm, Pleasance Courtyard)
A smart, charismatic stand-up who is another recipient of the Leicester Mercury award. Rosenthal's had a massive year, starring in Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner and a critically acclaimed play at the Royal Court Theatre.
• Jay Foreman: We're Living in the Future (2.30pm, Underbelly)
A musical comic of comic wit and musical sophistication. Expect a light-hearted afternoon hour on the subject of time.
• Joe Wilkinson: My Mum's Called Stella and My Dad's Called Brian (5.45pm, Pleasance Courtyard)
A gloriously laid-back stand-up, Wilkinson (above) is an underrated headliner on the circuit. If he can convert his 20-minute form into a good hour then you're in for a treat. Also stars in BBC3's Him and Her.
• John Kearns' Dinner Party (4pm, Whistlebinkies)
A high-concept show in which Kearns invites a bunch of old friends (that's you the audience) round for dinner because he's dying. It's dark, bold, and it goes for dramatic impact as much as it goes for laughs. Also features a brilliant cameo by Pat Cahill. Won't be for everyone.
• Discover Ben Target (1.45pm, Bannermans)
Another Leicester Merucry-er. A truly oddball act who's had a bowl full of Tim Key and Paul Foot for breakfast, but pulls through due to sheer commitment to his absurdist act. An unforgettable show, whether you're in the love it or hate it camp.
• Dana Alexander: New Arrival (8pm, Underbelly)
A no-nonsense quality stand-up who's a star of the Canadian circuit.
• Humphrey Ker is Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher! (7.15pm, Pleasance Courtyard)
As seen on BBC1's Fast and Loose and the Penny Dreadfuls, Ker's debut solo effort is a rollicking good yarn based in World War II. Expect skilful character acting and plenty of funnies too.
Some other newbies who are knocking at the door: freewheeling mentalist Eric Lampaert; charmer Joel Dommett of Popatron fame; the ballsy, bright and bouncy Ahir Shah; the high-energy Naz Osmanoglu; well handy sketch duo Dregs (Mark Smith and Max Dickins), another newbie on loan from sketch, Pappy's's Matthew Crosby; the slight but splendid Holly Walsh from various TV shows; cultural commentators Gentlemen of Leisure (Nish Kumar and Tom Neenan); Canadian/Aussie stand-up who already has a Barry Award nomination Deanne Smith; inventive scamp Tom Webb; light-hearted US stand-up Hannibal Buress; sparky character comic Cariad Lloyd and handsome bastard and former strip club owner Brett Goldstein.
Dear oh dear. Magnificent new sketch trio Sheeps (4.45pm, Pleasance Counrtyard) were on the original 'top 10' list but, due to an administrative cock-up, fell off. So consider it a top 11 list. Baaa.