stuart goldsmith Comedian’s Comedian Podcast

whynow’s best of the fest | The best stand-up at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023

From shows about soup to our new favourite sociopath, here’s the very best stand-up our critics found at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023.

Two weeks, a dozen burritos and a whole lot of shoe leather later, and our crack Fringe-reviewing team have seen a whisker-shy of 1% of the shows at 2023’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I know, hold the applause.

But while every year you’re likely to leave the Fringe with a dozen missed show opportunities dangling in the back of your head, for anyone still planning a trip, there’re plenty of days left to cram in as much comedy, theatre and whatever Creepy Boys is as possible.

The Edinburgh Fringe is hardly short of budding stand-ups. For most in the UK, and many from around the world, the August festival is something of a right of passage. Every year, what feels like the entire industry relocates for a month of guaranteed gigs and hour-long shows with sad bits at the end.

But the Fringe really does thrive off recommendations, so, without further ado, here’s our rundown of the very best stand-up we found vying for attention in the Scottish capital.

Greta Titelman’s Exquisite Lies

greta titelman review

Greta Titelman: Exquisite Lies review | New favourite sociopath

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, but Greta Titelman’s stand-up persona takes that icky feeling of laughing at something you shouldn’t and pumps it up to a whole new level. From impressively tuneful songs about consent to boasts about her own moral awfulness, her hour appears to blur the line between entertainment and reality with masterful precision. Unnervingly self-aware and consistently hilarious, Titelman is certainly a rising star to look out for.

Greta Titelman’s Exquisite Lies is playing at Pleasance Courtyard at 20:10 until 27 August. Get your tickets here. 

John Kearns: The Varnishing Days

john kearns review

John Kearns: The Varnishing Days review | A master at work

Every comedian’s favourite comedian is back from a stint on Taskmaster with his iconic false teeth intact. Fame doesn’t seem to have changed him one bit – he’s just as funny now as his Best Newcomer-winning debut was a decade ago. A high-wire act balancing the mundane with the borderline philosophical, The Varnishing Days is another chance to see an absolute master of his craft at work. And, yes, long-term fans, that is the same wig.

John Kearns: The Varnishing Days played at Monkey Barrel from 2-13 August. Get your tickets for the Varnishing Days Tour here.

Stuart Goldsmith: Spoilers

stuart goldsmith

Stuart Goldsmith: Spoilers review | Climate change therapy (in a good way)

If an hour-long stand-up show about the climate crisis sounds a bit intense, then this show is perfectly calibrated for you. Part stand-up, part environmental group therapy, the Fringe veteran embraces his calming, almost monk-like charisma to deliver an educational (ish) and uplifting (definitely) show on the biggest problem the world his perfectly capable of solving – if only we could be bothered. Oh, and it’s hilarious to boot.

Stuart Goldsmith: Spoilers is playing at Monkey Barrel at 15:20 until 27 August. Get your tickets here.

Alison Spittle: Soup

Alison Spittle

(photo: Alison Spittle)

Alison Spittle: Soup review | Comfort food for stand-up souls

For an utterly charming change of pace, Alison Spittle offers up a show just as relaxing as its title implies. With a laugh-packed hour of easy anecdotes and just a little bit of trauma, Soup is the perfect feel-good show to kick off a late start at the festival covering everything from bridesmaids to Butlins. Spittle herself is so charming you’ll even forgive her for reminding you about parasitic worms. Hive is a disgustingly warm venue, though, so if you are bringing a soup, make it gazpacho.

Alison Spittle: Soup is playing at Monkey Barrel – The Hive at 13:25 until 27 August. Get your tickets here.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023 runs until 28 August. You can view our comprehensive guide to the entire Fringe here.

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