The Best (and Worst) of the Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Jamie Lerner - Author
By

Aug. 25 2023, Updated 12:26 p.m. ET

Virgin Money Street Events
Source: David Monteith-Hodge 2019 / © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The 2023 Edinburgh Fringe might be the biggest one yet, with almost 4,000 shows to see. While we wish we could see every single one of them, it's simply not feasible, so we've picked our favorites to check out. While some shows have returned after past years of success, others are brand new and deserve their time in the spotlight.

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So we're highlighting some old favorites, some newcomers, and the best comedy that the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe has to offer.

What Girls Are Made Of
Source: David Monteith-Hodge 2019 / © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
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Comedians and (Similar to but Legally Distinct from) Dragons

Barcelona-based Scottish comedian Stuart Kennedy brings his “thematically similar to Dungeons and Dragons but legally distinct Comedians and Dragons” to Edinburgh for the first time. On Day 1, the show did not get the audience it deserves — with three hilarious comedians, Stuart tries to guide them on a magical quest. But can they do it? Or will they simply use their queefing powers to inflate some “titties”?

Comedians and (Similar to but Legally Distinct from) Dragons

Our Rating

Stuart Kennedy chorales a group of unsuspecting comedians into completing a mission with many jokes along the way.

Group: Stuart Kennedy / Free Fringe

Where: Laughing Horse @ Home Bar

When: Every day at 2:15 p.m.

Price: £2.50-10 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+

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LOLyamorous

Another Barcelona-based comedian, James Regal, brings his debut Fringe speed-dating show to Just the Tonic. LOLyamorous invites a crowd of people to try their hand at a first date … onstage! It might sound scary, but the show’s inclusivity and honesty make it uniquely funny for audiences, daters, and comedians.

The comedians chat with the audience about their love lives, making jokes along the way. With a different co-host and different dates every night, every show is completely spontaneous and different!

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LOLyamorous

Our Rating

Comedian James Regal and guest co-host guide the audience through a unique and funny dating experience.

Group: James Regal / Just the Tonic

Where: Just the Tonic at the Caves – Just the Fancy Room

When: Every day (except Aug. 14) at 9 p.m.

Price: £8 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+

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BATSU!

This Japanese game show began its run in New York City in 2011, but it made its international debut at the Edinburgh Fringe. BATSU! is essentially an improv show, but don’t let that stop you from attending if you’re an improv-hater. If the improvisers make a bad joke, they get punished.

On its first night, there was a lot of waiting around for the show to begin, but we’re sure that kink will be ironed out. By bringing silly energy, sake shots, and witty improvisation to the stage with a tried-and-true structure, BATSU! does not disappoint.

BATSU!

Our Rating

BATSU! is a Japanese game show incorporating improv and hilarious punishments.

Group: BATSU! Moon in association with Underbelly

Where: Underbelly, Cowgate – Belly Dancer

When: Every day (except Aug. 14 and 21) at 10:45 p.m.

Price: £17.50

Suitability: 18+

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101 Psychos: We Turn Insanity Into Hilarity

Host Moni Zhang puts together an expert lineup of unabashed and unashamed comedians who are ready to share their deepest darkest secrets. Every show has a different lineup, but that doesn’t stop Moni from creating a safe and welcoming energy in the room for anyone who wants to feel a little less alone in their own insanity.

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101 Psychos: We Turn Insanity Into Hilarity

Our Rating

Moni Zhang invites comedians onstage to joke about their mental health and make the audience feel less alone.

Group: Moni Zhang Comedy, Berlin Mental Health Festival

Where: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House – The Loft

When: Every day at 1:45 p.m.

Price: Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+ (Guideline)

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Bumble Me Tinders

This dating show has every audience member in stitches by the end. The show compiles audience members’ statistics of their worst dates and most embarrassing romantic (and/or sexual) stories with host Darius Davies at its helm. Darius seamlessly draws on the audience’s experiences to make jokes that leave us wondering how he could possibly be making this up on the fly. By the end, we’re not just an audience — we’re a group of friends having a laugh.

Bumble Me Tinders

Our Rating

A comedian gets to know the best and the worst of the audience's love lives.

Group: RGB Monster in association with Pantswise Media

Where: Just the Tonic at La Belle Angele – La Belle Angele

When: Every day (except Aug. 14 and 21) at 8 p.m.

Price: £10

Suitability: 18+

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666 Black Widows: All Female and Dark Comedy

Moni once again knows how to compile a lineup. From women who sing songs about sleeping with your ex’s best friend to Jewish women making Holocaust jokes, this show had the perfect balance of femininity and profanity. Every comedian had their own style and experiences, which made this show a hoot for the full room it drew in.

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666 Black Widows: All Female and Dark Comedy

Our Rating

Berlin-based comedian Moni Zhang leads a lineup of the darkest female comics at the Fringe.

Group: Moni Zhang Comedy

Where: Laughing Horse @ Bar 50 – The Alcove

When: Every day at 9:45 p.m.

Price: £2.50–10 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+ (Guideline)

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A Terrible Show for Terrible People

Clown Bonnie He takes us on a journey from grief through to sexual healing. In the show’s darkest moments, she pulls out something obscenely sexual and is able to instill humor simply through movement and audience interaction. While the show was Bonnie’s highly anticipated Fringe debut, it lacked the deeper sadness and tragicomedy of clowning that we often look for. It was hard to tell if the audience was laughing from true joy or awkwardness, but it was an enjoyable 50 minutes.

A Terrible Show for Terrible People

Our Rating

Clown Bonnie He gives the audience a shockingly sexual and goofy experience.

Group: Bonnie He

Where: Underbelly, Cowgate – Iron Belly

When: Every day (except Aug. 14 and 21) at 11:10 p.m.

Price: £11

Suitability: 14+ (Guideline)

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Julia Masli: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

In a different clown show, Julia achieves what Bonnie couldn't. She brings the audience fully on board as she solves each of their problems. By the end of the hour, her disappointment that she's unable to solve every audience member's problem descends into her own problem as she tries to figure out how to end her show.

Julia’s clown makes the audience laugh and cry in ways we never thought possible through fitting sound, unique movement, and a charmingly absurd personality. If you have one show to see at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, make it this one.

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Julia Masli: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Our Rating

Julia Masli achieves moments of pure joy and deep sorrow through spontaneity in this unmissable clown show.

Group: Impatient Productions

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 4

When: Aug. 14 and 15 at 12:05 a.m., Aug. 17–27 at 1:30 a.m.

Price: £10

Suitability: 18+

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WWYDITWY (What Would You Do If That Was You)

To say that WWYDITWY is unlike any other show would be an understatement. Andy Casper takes his contestants on a confusingly hilarious and absurd ride as they compete to win the ultimate prize of … who knows? But we promise it’s worth it. With his charm, snake, top hat, original songs, videos, and even computer games, Andy makes the show a gem not to be missed.

WWYDITWY (What Would You Do If That Was You)

Our Rating

Host Andy Casper entertains with an absurd game show unlike any other with original music, video, and computer game content.

Group: Andy Casper / Free Festival

Where: Laughing Horse @ The Cocktail Mafia – Main Room

When: Every day at 9 p.m.

Price: £5–12.50 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+

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Absolute Chaos

There has never been a more fitting name for a show in the history of shows. Chaotic Scotsman Stuart uses his infectious energy to encourage audience members to heckle his varied lineup. While the lineup is mostly comedians, there is the occasional clown or musician. This is a show for the audience member who’s just been itching to heckle—the comedians love it … and they might even heckle you back.

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Absolute Chaos

Our Rating

Host Stuart Kennedy encourages audience members to be funnier than the comedians.

Group: Stuart Kennedy / Free Festival

Where: Laughing Horse @ 32 Below – Little Cellar

When: Every day at 11:30 p.m.

Price: Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+

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PG Hits! Family-Friendly Comedy Club

A comedy show for kids? The Edinburgh Fringe is one place where that’s a possibility. This show invites parents to bring their kids for some “PG” comedy. While some performers have kid-friendly sets under their belts, others are trying their hardest to keep the comedy above board, which is funny in its own right. Both parents and kids love the show; with a different lineup every day, it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

PG Hits! Family-Friendly Comedy Club

Our Rating

A varied lineup of family-friendly comedy is entertaining for parents, kids, and everyone in between.

Group: RGB Monster

Where: Laughing Horse @ Bar 50 – Garden Room

When: Every day at 12:30 p.m.

Price: £5–12.50 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 12+ (Guideline)

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PG Hits
Source: Free Festival

Raul Kohli: Kohl and the Gang

Geordie comedian Raul Kohli picks his favorite comics at the Fringe to give their best ten-minute sets, and audiences will not be disappointed. Raul’s demeanor and charm open the audience up to whatever they might see, and his ability to crowd work can’t be understated. If you’re looking for a good laugh at a reliable comedy show, this is the show for you.

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Raul Kohli: Kohl and The Gang

Our Rating

Comedian Raul Kohli curates a lineup of Edinburgh's best comedians.

Group: Raul Kohli / Free Festival

Where: Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters – The Live Room

When: Every day (except Aug. 16) at 8 p.m.

Price: £2.50–10 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+

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Annabel Marlow… is this okay??

Annabel Marlow might be the single most charming performer at the Edinburgh Fringe ever. She has the voice of an angel and the lyrics of a relatable jester. Her dating anecdotes mixed with her raw vulnerability, fourth wall breaks, and unexpected twists make her Fringe debut an unforgettable hour. It’s more of a collection of songs and thoughts … But who organizes their brain into a cohesive story anyway?

Annabel Marlow… is this okay??

Our Rating

Performer Annabel Marlow tries her hand at comedic composition with success and likability.

Group: Stamptown Proudly Presents

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – The Attic

When: Every day (except Aug. 16) at 8:30 p.m.

Price: £12

Suitability: 16+ (Guideline)

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Sid Singh: Table for One

Sid is a master at the craft of comedy—unlike many other shows that are just an amalgamation of jokes, Sid's show has a direct throughline that even ties into his bucket speech. He's an expert in writing jokes that call back to one another, telling a story, and sheer silliness all while being a "political comedian." The audience ate up everything Sid served at his "Table for One" and at the end, we learn that half of all payment will go to the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies.

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Sid Singh: Table for One

Our Rating

'Sid Singh: Table for One' is an expertly crafted and performed comedy show with a political throughline that acts on its message.

Group: Sid Singh

Where: Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire – Main Room

When: Every day at 4:15 p.m.

Price: £5–12.50 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 14+ (Guideline)

Sid Singh
Source: Courtesy of Sid Singh
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Séance

I’m normally a fan of the haunted and haunting, but Séance was unfortunately not my cup of tea. An £11 experience for 20 minutes, the “show” itself is a pre-recorded guide taking a group of about 20 people through a somewhat comedic, but mostly scary, séance. We can feel the table shake and hear voices in our headphones, but even the most committed audience members will pop back into reality too easily. The experience could have added more 4-D elements, such as scent and temperature, to really drive it home.

Séance

Our Rating

Séance is an overpriced immersive experience that doesn't do anything too revolutionary.

Group: DARKFIELD

Where: Pleasance Dome – Potterrow Plaza–Container 2

When: Every day at every half hour from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Price: £11

Suitability: 14+ (Guideline)

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Europe’s Most Wanted!

Likable hosts Oleg Denisov and Igor Mondae set up a safe and welcoming room for Europe’s most coveted comedians. Set at the Raging Bull, an impressive cocktail bar on Lothian Road, Europe’s Most Wanted! brings a hilarious lineup of comedians who can typically only be seen in continental Europe—a fun change from the more well-known comics of London, New York, and Australia.

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Europe’s Most Wanted!

Our Rating

'Europe's Most Wanted!' brings a different lineup of Europe's best comedians that you can't typically see in the U.K.

Group: East-West Comedy / Free Festival

Where: Laughing Horse @ The Raging Bull – Cellar

When: Every day at 9 p.m.

Price: £5–12.50 / Pay What You Want

Suitability: 18+

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Mike Rice — Hand of a Sinner

Mike Rice may be the best rising comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe. A traveling comedian, Mike’s anecdotes keep the audience keeling over from start to finish. He has jokes—dating failures, stories of his youth, etc.—but he draws in specific audience members and calls back to moments that can only happen in real-time expertly.

Mike is a master class in the craft of comedy whom it would be a shame to miss. Although he's a 5-star comedian, this show is a compilation of his best jokes, so we're eager to see his next cohesive hour.

Mike Rice – Hand of a Sinner

Our Rating

Mike Rice is one of the best comics and writers whose jokes are perfectly executed with charm and panache.

Group: Mike Rice

Where: Scottish Comedy Festival @ The Beehive Inn – Beehive 1 (The Lounge)

When: Every day at 10:15 p.m.

Price: £7.50

Suitability: 18+

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Josh Glanc: Collections 2023

What is Josh Glanc? He’s not a clown, and he’s not a stand-up comedian. He’s essentially a character actor but with more audience interaction, stand-up tropes, and meta bits of humor, which make him one of the silliest and most unique performers on the circuit. He’s award-winning, and we can see why. From his niche Aqua bit to his beloved Spanish f--kboi, Josh doesn’t have an unlovable bone in his body.

Like Mike, Josh is worthy of five stars as a performer, although the show is mostly just a feel-good collection of character bits.

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Josh Glanc: Collections 2023

Our Rating

Josh Glanc performs his best character bits in an uproariously funny and feel-good show.

Group: Stamptown proudly presents

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 4

When: Aug. 20 at 3:35 p.m. and Aug. 21 at 7:50 p.m.

Price: £7

Suitability: 12+ (Guideline)

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Stamptown Comedy Night

Going to Stamptown was the most fun I’ve ever had at a comedy show. There wasn’t a weak act in the pack. Highlights included Yuck Circus, an all-female acrobatic circus collective dressed and acting like “yucky” men, Elf Lyons, a truly absurd comedian who gets her patriarchal rage out by smashing fruits that represent penises, and the show’s knee-slappingly brilliant hosts Zach Zucker as old-school New Yorker Jack Tucker and Josh Glanc with an inexplicable jug of milk.

Stamptown Comedy Night

Our Rating

Stamptown Comedy Night brings together the best of the best in alternative comedy.

Group: Stamptown Proudly Presents

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Forth

When: Until Aug. 26 at 11 p.m.

Price: £15

Suitability: 18+

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Laura Ramoso: FRANCES

I may not have been the target audience for Laura’s show—I don’t follow her on TikTok, nor am I a tall American woman with a German mom and an Italian dad who recently went through a breakup. If that sounds very specific, it is. Laura’s talents lie in her acting. The funniest moment was as her German mother character when she broke the fourth wall and empathized with the stereotype of her mother as her mother.

But her prompted audience interaction and musical bits fell short. The story that weaves throughout is entertaining and its ending is very satisfying, but it feels like with some refinement, Laura has the potential for a better show next year.

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Laura Ramoso: FRANCES

Our Rating

Laura Ramoso has some funny bits and acting talent but has some room for improvement.

Group: Mick Perrin Worldwide

Where: Pleasance Dome – JackDome

When: Until Aug. 28 at 8:20 p.m.

(Extra show added at 11 p.m. at the Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Beyond)

Suitability: 16+ (Guideline)

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Monet X Change: Life Be Lifein'

This is not your typical drag show, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. Through impeccable storytelling that is both touching and witty, Monet X Change takes us on a journey of self-discovery. We're brought along for the ride as she navigates her sexuality, falls in and out of love, and ultimately, finds her voice. You don’t need death drops and tricks to be amazed; you’ll fall in love with Monet’s charisma and root for her until the very end.

Monet X Change: Life Be Lifein'

Our Rating

Monet X Change takes us behind her drag persona with charisma and wit.

Group: AEG Presents

Where: Underbelly, Bristo Square – McEwan Hall

When: Ended Aug. 15

Suitability: 16+ (Guideline)

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Moses Storm: Perfect Cult

As a comedian, Moses is a pro. But Perfect Cult is not just comedy. As a cult documentary and podcast aficionado, this comedy-show-meets-interactive-cult-experience was made for me. Moses was both silly and vulnerable while being an expert in drawing in the audience (and then calling out how groupthink is making us act). He's honest and self-aware. We’re excited to see where Perfect Cult will go—maybe his cult won’t get a Netflix documentary, but it could get a Netflix special instead.

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Moses Storm: Perfect Cult

Our Rating

Using storytelling and comedy, Moses Storm creates a different cult-like experience with the audience every night.

Group: Stamptown Proudly Presents

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Beneath

When: Every day at 10:20 p.m.

Price: £13

Suitability: 16+ (Guideline)

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Mark Watson: Search

20-year Fringe veteran Mark Watson demonstrates once again why audiences flock to his show every year. Search is another highly engaging demonstration of his masterful turn of phrase, hilarious asides, and observational jokes that feel both universally relatable and convincingly personal. Despite Mark clearly delivering prepared material, his shows always feel like having a warm conversation with an old friend, who just happens to be side-splittingly funny.

Mark Watson: Search

Our Rating

Mark Watson navigates parenting in the age of Google with another hilarious show.

Group: Impatient Productions

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance One

When: Every day at 9 p.m.

Price: £16

Suitability: 14+ (Guideline)

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Mark Watson
Source: Mark Watson

Not My Audience! The Interactive Panel Show You Control with an App!

Not My Audience! is a panel show unlike any other. Hosted by the lovable Ollie Horn, the show is exactly what YOU, the audience, make it! Three Fringe performers join Ollie to pitch unlikely national holidays, try their hand at improvised stand-up comedy, and interact with the crowd in a way that puts no pressure on any specific audience members. It's easily a crowd favorite that will keep you coming back repeatedly.

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Not My Audience! The Interactive Panel Show You Control with an App!

Our Rating

This is a panel show in which the audience puts the comedians in absurd situations.

Group: RGB Monster

Where: Laughing Horse @ 32 Below – Main Cellar

When: Every day at 3:30 p.m.

Price: Pay What You Can

Suitability: 16+

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Avital Ash Workshops Her Suicide Note

Avital Ash opens the show with a shocking story about her mother’s suicide and follows this story by describing her own suicidal ideations. However, the seemingly dark start is jam-packed with jokes, giving the audience a complicated response to how we're supposed to think and feel.

Throughout the show, Avital continues to take spectators on a journey while navigating difficult feelings and reliving personal anecdotes. There is laughter, tears, and a suicide note at the end, but who does it belong to? This show beautifully fuses tragedy and comedy as an example of how to be genuinely brave onstage.

Avital Ash Workshops Her Suicide Note

Our Rating

Avital Ash takes her audience on a cathartic and tragicomic journey workshopping a "suicide note."

Group: Avital Ash

Where: Monkey Barrel Comedy (The Tron) – The Tron

When: Every day at 10:05 p.m.

Price: £10

Suitability: 16+

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Clown Sex

Ever thought about what it would be like to have sex with a clown? Clown Sex illustrates this in graphic and often uncomfortable detail, forcing us to look at our own innate sexual desires and question them. Natasha Sutton Williams' one-person show takes the audience on a journey through various sexual encounters that are both disturbing and absurd but simultaneously intriguing.

Its simplicity is key, and Natasha's acting impressively brings different characters to life. You might love it. You might absolutely hate it. But no matter what, you’ll never forget it.

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Clown Sex

Our Rating

'Clown Sex' treats the audience to a dessert of absurd sexual situations.

Group: Natasha Sutton Williams and PlayWell Productions

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker Two

When: Every day at 1:45 p.m.

Price: £13

Suitability: 18+ (Guideline)

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The All Irish Afterparty

John Spillane's immediate likability creates a warm ambiance in the room, which makes it safe to play with the audience and his internal dialogue. The self-described Irish madman knows how to draw on the audience's energy and follow through with whatever game or theme the show could become. Having been three times, I cried with laughter every time. John may be the most talented and naturally funny performer at the Fringe ... and he's at the top of his game.

The All Irish After Party

Our Rating

Irish comedian John Spillane is at the top of his game, creating a new wholesome and laugh-out-loud funny show every night.

Group: John Spillane

Where: Laughing Horse @ City Cafe – Las Vegas

When: Until Aug. 26 at 10:30 p.m.

Price: £5–12.50 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+ (Guideline)

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Hello Kitty Must Die

Hello Kitty Must Die's music and talent are at a high caliber, but the show feels like it's still in the workshop stage. It suffers from the same fate as many other Fringe musicals and plays, in that it relies heavily on telling instead of showing. The plot was darker than expected, but as a true crime buff, I fell in love with the story, although I wondered what I learned by the end. However, it is still an inventive, entertaining, and witty hour of theater.

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Hello Kitty Must Die

Our Rating

An all-female all-Asian cast tells a uniquely dark and hilarious story through musical theater.

Group: Alchemation

Where: Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Two

When: Every day at 4:50 p.m.

Price: £16

Suitability: 16+ (Guideline)

Gremlin Head

Andy Casper is a delight in his debut hour, which has consistently wowed audiences throughout the Fringe. Through hilariously weird bits, Andy depicts what it's like to deal with intrusive thoughts and OCD in a way that's both relatable and unexpected. He does what comedians do best—by playing with the audience's expectations, he's able to say the scary thoughts we've had out loud and make us all feel a little less alone. Andy is easily one of the best rising talents who can't be missed.

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Gremlin Head

Our Rating

Andy Casper jokes about his intrusive thoughts and OCD in a relatable and witty hour of stand-up comedy.

Group: Andy Casper / Free Festival

Where: Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters – The Wee Room

When: Every day at 1:15 p.m.

Price: £2.50–10 / Pay What You Can

Suitability: 18+ (Guideline)

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival ends Aug. 28—more shows can be found on the Edinburgh Fringe website.

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