Conscious Comedy: 11 Inspiring Shows at the Edinburgh Fringe

With over 3000 shows to choose from, a visit to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival can be overwhelming. However if you prefer your comedy with a conscience, here’s the shows I recommend you check out either at the festival or when they go on tour;

Alfie Brown: Lunatic

image description Photo: James Deacon

Beautifully structured with a bubble bursting incident at its core. Lunatic, is Alfie’s best work yet. I have been a loyal cheerleader for him since 2013, after I saw his show The Revolting Youth. I was inspired by his integrity onstage, he’s one of the reasons I’m now a comic. Described as “A British Doug Stanhope” by The Guardian. The show features musings on the political landscape, from a unique and honest perspective. It’s a free thinking powerful show touching on mental health, activism and sexual politics.

Monkey Barrel. 21:30. Until 26th August. £7

Darren Harriott: Visceral

Acerbic social commentary. A powerful show exploring gang culture, politics & mental health. All the things I care about as a feminist, from a male perspective. There are lots of comics who will discuss these issues, but his voice is more authentic because of lived experience. Darren is relaxed, funny and beautiful. His show really touched my heart. He’s from my neck of the woods where we don’t always get opportunities come easily. Please support this man. He is going to be legendary.

Pleasance Courtyard - Beneath. Until 26th August (Not 22nd.) £10

Laura Lexx: Trying

An hour on anxiety, depression and climate change. Laura became very worried about the world when she started trying for a baby, experiencing a kind of postnatal depression minus the actual baby. It gets dark in places but the balance is perfect. Some funny and relatable stories about camping. Also, I now remember more GCSE French, leaving me feeling quite clever as an audience member.

Gilded Balloon Teviot - Turret. Until 26th August. £9.50 (£8.50 conc)

Matt Price: Last Night a Weegie Saved My Life

Hilarious, endearing and provocative. Matt gives us a glimpse into the male psyche, highlighting why movements like the Campaign Against Living Miserably are necessary. This is a sweet and honest love story with some dark turns, but there is light at the end.

Gilded Balloon Teviot - Wee Room. 19:00. Until 26th August. £11 (£9 conc)

Luisa Omielan: Politics for Bitches

After losing her mother to cancer last year, Luisa felt let down by the state and has become politically active. She’s grieving and angry. It’s hard to be funny when your soul is in turmoil but there are still plenty of jokes including an excellent bit about Mary Magdalene with insights on female sexuality. I could relate to her story. Me and my family have experienced similar system failings leading to loss of life. To use her platform to raise awareness is a brave and selfless act. She’s known for being inspiring to women, but this show makes her a hero of the people.

Gilded Balloon Teviot Debating Hall. 21:15. Until 26th August (Not 23rd.) £15 (£13 Conc)

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Harriet Kemsley: Slutty Joan

I couldn’t stop the words “I love you so much!” from tumbling out of my mouth, as I passed her at the end with the bucket. Hilarious and moving. This is a show about how women are treated differently to men for enjoying sex, inspired by a Cornell University study. There is a powerful #MeToo story at the end. Her honesty and sweetness was so endearing. I’m smitten with her.

Voodoo Rooms. 17:55. Until Aug 25th August. PBH’s Free Fringe

Eleanor Conway: Walk Of Shame 2

Eleanor creates a sexy safe space for us ladies. The men in the audience seem to feel privileged to witness what we get up to, when our need for adventure takes over. Her infectious excitement got me feeling ready for the weekend. I’ve seen Eleanor twice before, she has really blossomed as a comedian appearing more free onstage. She’s your mad friend on a night out and we love her, but there is also a powerful message about sexual boundaries weaved within this show.

Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire. 21:00. Until 26th August. Free Festival

Dave Chawner: Mental

A comforting and uplifting hour about coping strategies to maintain mental health. It’s packed with excellent jokes and Dave has a warm and welcoming presence on stage. He’s written a book about his recovery from anorexia too. An inspiring voice.

Laughing Horse @ Counting House. 19:20 until 26th August. Free Festival

Juliette Burton: Butterfly Effect

A sweet and uplifting show about kindness. She creates a lovely environment for her audience as she describes her mental health challenges and presents us with videos of her social experiments. I felt inspired after this show. When a man carried my friends wheelchair down some stairs, I gave him a bubble bath from my NYRO shop as thanks for his kindness. Turns out it’s the one he usually buys for himself. What a lovely synchronicity. #DareToBeKind

Fringe run finished but tour dates available at

Mark Thomas - Check Up: Our NHS at 70

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My cousin and my hero, another one of the people who inspired me to do comedy. This show is important. It’s about our NHS. What’s going wrong with it and critically, how it can be saved. He shadowed doctors, interviewed those on the inside and the passion of his delivery brought me to tears. Take Tissues.

Traverse Theatre - Various times until 26th August. £21.50 (£16.50 Conc)

Eat Me

This is the only one on my list that is not a comedy show. It’s a powerful and truthful play about anorexia. Through the archetypal devouring mother, we can easily understand how this disease can consume people. It’s an evocative and compassionate piece. Written by Suzanna Walters who has experienced the illness herself and brought to life the stories of her fellow survivors. Found myself welling up at the end. Again, take tissues.

C Venues - C Aquila - Temple. 17:35 until 27th August. £10.50 (£8.50 conc)

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