Overflowing bins made headlines because of a refuse worker’s strike, but Edinburgh was also overflowing with laughs this summer. The Festival Fringe had everything, from transgender superheroes to political satirists competing with crying babies to thespians dishing showbiz dirt. And now, like exotic birds craving a different climate, the cream of the crop is coming south. Here is the pick of the bunch.
Full frontal all-round entertainment from transgender musical comedian Gray. You might remember her from The Voice back in 2016, but she is reborn here in her new show Is It A Bird? as a phenomenal package of singer/songwriter and stand-up. It is no surprise this show has been getting nightly ovations.
Soho Theatre until Oct 1; sohotheatre.com
Last time round, this comedian’s comedian performed two different shows back-to-back on the same night. Now he is returning to a one-show-one-man-one-mic (plus another mic backstage in case the first one breaks) format for this stripped down stand-up show entitled Basic Lee.
Leicester Square Theatre until Dec 1; leicestersquaretheatre.com
This year’s Fringe breakout star, without doubt. Nobody captures the tone of the self-fixated Gen Z twentysomething with as much hilarity. Some might see his narcissistic, insta-obsessed persona as a zippy zeitgeist send-up, younger fans might view it as fly-on-on-the-wall reality. Either way Reich has charisma to burn and will go far.
Soho Theatre, Oct 4 - 15; sohotheatre.com
Hoult, who you may recognise from Ricky Gervais’ After Life, has been playing spoof thespian Anna Mann for a few years but hits the sweet spot here giving his comic creation full rein in this valedictory show where she reminisces about her many years on the stage, drops names of showbiz chums as if they are going out of style and insults the audience for their poor taste in trousers.
Soho Theatre, Oct 11 - 21 sohotheatre.com
Satirist Forde attracts fans of all ages, but he was still surprised to hear a baby crying during one of his gigs in Edinburgh. All well-behaved adults are welcome at the London run of his ever-evolving state-of-the-nation exploration Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right.
Leicester Square Theatre, Oct 18; Bloomsbury Theatre, Oct 21 and 28 mattforde.com
There is no rest for the in-demand Yorkshire comic who is famous for her own fringe and the brutal shaved scalp behind it. Returning from the Edinburgh Fringe and after a quick brew heads off on her debut national tour entitled Buzzed. The Live at the Apollo star talks weddings, women’s football and that haircut in a feelgood set frontloaded with laughs.
Leicester Square Theatre, Oct 27 and 28; leicestersquaretheatre.com
One of the UK’s pre-eminent pun merchants, Simmons came second this week in the annual Dave Joke of the Fringe competition with "Did you know, if you get pregnant in the Amazon, it’s next day delivery." Plenty more where that came from from the quickest quipster in showbusiness.
Leicester Square Theatre, Nov 12 and June 29, 2023; leicestersquaretheatre.com
The former hip hop dance champion doesn’t stress too much about having themes to her shows at the moment, she just wants to concentrate on being funny. Expect lively yarns about growing up in New Cross and more recently sky diving for a TV programme.
Soho Theatre, Nov 24 - 26. sohotheatre.com
The Bristolian powerhouse will be doing the paso doble on Strictly this autumn, so the London date of her new touring show, Men, I Can Save You, about break-ups, male escorts and self-help, has now been pushed back to 2023. Should be well worth the wait.
Hackney Empire, E8, March 11, hackneyempire.co.uk