Barnesy’s Blunt Fringe – Recommendations for Edinburgh 2013

A few people have asked me for tips of what shows to see at the Fringe. It’s tricky because I know so many wonderful people that are doing shows, and I could easily recommend 100+ brilliant shows for you to see.

But, for what it is worth, with a gun to my head, these are the 15 fringe shows (in no particular order) I would pick if it was all I was allowed, and the special prizes for which I have nominated them, You will be unsurprised to hear that they are pretty much all comedy. If you want theatre recs,dance, music ask someone cultured, I am not your woman.

1. Michael Fabbri: Buffering

Winner of the Barnes Award for: MOST TALENTED COMIC WHO SHOULD BE FAMOUS BUT ISN’T, and, MOST TOLERANT COMIC IN THE WORLD (for being able to consistently work with me without killing me)

Seriously, I have seen this show at various stages in its development, it is BRILLIANT. Michael’s imagination never fails to astound me, and his imagery and ideas are near perfect

20:00 City Cafe (Free)

2. Sara Pascoe Vs The Truth

Winner of the Barnes Award for: PERFORMER I’D MOST LIKE TO BE

I saw a very early preview of this show and it is captivating. I could watch Sara forever, she has such a wonderful and unique style and, most of all, is bloody hilarious

20:00 Assembly, George Square

3. James Acaster, Lawnmower


The bits of this show that I have seen are as near to perfect stand up as you can get. Watching James grow into the performer he is today has been one of my biggest pleasures in comedy. I promise you will not regret buying this ticket, James is glorious and different to anything else you’ll see.

19:00, Pleasance Courtyard

4. Wil Hodgson – Leave The Landing Light ON

Winner of the Barnes Award for: MOST CAPTIVATING STORYTELLER

I love watching Wil, his style is very much his own and he brings you so effortlessly into his world, no matter who you are. I love the premise of this show, which talks about the fear of being an 80s kid bombarded with public information films and cold war paranoia. Am VERY excited about seeing this.

23:40 – The Stand

5. Nick Helm: One Man Mega Myth

Winner of the Barnes Award for: PURE UNADULTERATED JOY

I have never watched Nick Helm and not enjoyed every second. And I have watched him many times. It will have songs, poems, sequins, sweat, props, too much flesh, a beard, and a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And it will be utterly joyous.

16:00 Pleasance Courtyard

6. Sean McLoughlin: Backbone


You may not have heard of Sean McLoughlin, and, if that is the case, I suggest you rectify that immediately. Sean is bordering genius, so much so, that I worry for his mental health constantly. I have worked with Sean a lot, and he is one of those comics that makes me think “Dammit, I wish I’d thought of that” more than any other.

18:15, Pravda, Espionage (FREE)

7. Mark Thomas: 100 Acts of Minor Dissent

Winner of the Barnes Award for: SHOW MOST LIKELY TO FEATURE MY NAME IN IT

Having taken part in one of Mark’s Acts of Minor Dissent, I can vouch for how hilarious and wonderful this show will be, with a hefty dose of silliness and serious point making. But, above all, it will be funny as.

19.30, The Stand

8. Bridget Christie – A Bic For Her

Winner of the Barnes Award for: BEING MY FEMINIST HERO

If, like me, you really enjoyed Bridget’s Radio 4 series recently, then this show is definitely for you. In fact, it is for everyone. I saw an early preview of it, and, if I could make every schoolchild and adult watch it, I would. A completely unpatronising and unpreachy look at gender inequality in the modern world. And, above all, it is done in a beautifully original way, a MUST SEE. Well worth getting up early for, trust me.

11.10am, The Stand

9. Peacock and Gamble: Heart-throbs

Winner of the Barnes Award for: SHOW I’D MOST LIKE TO HAVE SEX WITH

Peacock and Gamble have been my Fringe highlights for the last 2 years. They are my absolute favourite comedy double act, and you’d have to be a right miserable fucker not to enjoy their show. It’s very silly, but underneath the knockabout silliness, there is a beautifully crafted show. I think they may have killed off Naughty Keith, which is a shame… They also made me say very rude things in their podcast last year. Dirty fucking sexy bastards.

21.45 – Pleasance Courtyard

10. Romesh Ranganathan: Rom Com


Romesh’s glass isn’t just half empty, he has broken the glass and cut himself with it. But this overwhelming pessimist is a ridiculously funny fucker, and is destined for huge things. He is also one of my favourite people in comedy. Go along, and shower him with your love and praise. He hates that

18.50, Underbelly, Bristo Square

11. Tig Notaro: Boyish-Girl Interrupted


Tig Notaro is brilliant, a real inspiration to so many comics. It is so exciting that she will be in Edinburgh, book your tickets NOW so you can say you were there. Trust me on this one.

18.45, Gilded Balloon, Teviot

12. Sarah Millican: Home Bird


There is not much I can say about why you should see Sarah. She is brilliant. I have seen earlier versions of the show, and it is utterly delightful, as always. Sarah is playing The Stand, so don’t miss this opportunity to see one of the best comics in the country in one of the best comedy venues in the country. It will be sublime, I promise

18.40 The Stand

13. David Sedaris – An Evening With David Sedaris

Winner of the Barnes Award for: BEING MY RADIO HERO

The brilliant essayist, humourist and satirist is in Edinburgh. This is good news. See him.

18.30, EICC

14. Josh Widdicombe, Incidentally

Winner of the Barnes Award for: WISHING I COULD BE HALF AS GOOD AS HE IS

Josh is, in my humble opinion, the best observational comic out there. He is likeable, his material is relatable, and he is as funny as a human can be. I adore what he does, and he is one of the reasons I started doing stand up myself. There, I said it. SEE HIM.

21.00, Assembly, George Square

15. Hot Dub Time Machine: Best. Party. Ever.
Winner of the Barnes Award for: BEST PLACE TO SEE COMEDIANS DANCING

HDTM was the highlight of Edinburgh 2012. A night of dancing to tunes from 1950-present day in order. It is a brilliant way to let your hair down and boogie the night away. And you will be guaranteed to see drunk famous comedians dancing like loons as it is their after show hangout of choice. Keep an eye out for Romesh Ranganathan, he loses his shit when they play Fresh Prince of Bel Air, you have been warned. Oh, and if you learn the German words to 99 Luftballons before you go, you will be a LEGEND on the night, and you will be carried out on peoples’ shoulders…

00.15, Underbelly, Bristo Square


It was so so hard picking just a few shows to see. I would like to give special mentions to the following too, I just ran out of time to plug them as much as those above, but they are AS brilliant:

Nish Kumar
David Trent
Rob Collins
Mae Martin
Milo McCabe
Liam Mullone
Joe Lycett
Jim Campbell
Susan Calman
Richard Hering

Have a great Fringe everyone.

AB xx


The Benefit Cap Doesn’t Fit

So, let me get this right IDS. Benefit caps mean that a huge proportion of Housing Benefit claimants, in London and the SE in particular,  will no longer be able to afford the extortionate rents that private landlords are charging.?

So, they have 2 choices

1) Get a job. I need a whole other blog to discuss the lack of REAL employment opportunities, and the undeniable fact that MOST people on benefits would give their right arm to be in work. For MOST people, being out of work isn’t about dossing and sticking 2 fingers up at the system. It is a cause of frustration, guilt, shame, distress, depression and worse. (Incidentally, ATOS probably wouldn’t count giving your right arm as being deserving of disability benefit)

2) Move to an area where the rents are more affordable. Easy to say IDS, but what about…

a) – The cost of relocation, removals etc.  How would a family on very low income physically be able to get themselves to these new areas?

b) How would somebody go about applying for HB in a borough they are not currently located in? How long would it take to re-apply for HB and receive it with the new council?  In the meantime, how can somebody pay a deposit and rent wile waiting for HB decisions?

c) DON’T GET ME STARTED ON LETTING AGENT FEES – they are scumbags. It is unlikely that someone, on moving to a new “affordable” area will be instantly offered council or social housing, so will have to use private landlords.

d) Children will be removed from schools  where they are settled and new places will need to be found in alternative schools. Altenative schools in previously less populated areas. Probably meaning, there are not so many school places.

e)  If there is a mass exodus of people from London/SE to previously less populated and cheaper areas, won’t that have its own problems for those areas? Local services may not be able to cope.

f)  If the goal is to encourage more people into work, how is forcing them into areas with cheaper rents going to help, when it is often a signifier of an area with a significantly low amount of available employment – eg rural areas, previous industrial towns etc?


How about this IDS? A cap on rents from private landlords. And/or, a sliding scale of benefit allowances according to the average rent in the district in which benefits are being claimed? A Local Housing Allowance that actually reflects the reality of private rent in the area. A cap on private rents means a realistic cap can be put on HB spending. But one that is fair to everyone, regardless of where they happen to live.

Why force families from their communities, extended family, support networks, familiar surroundings, HOMES?  Is there some NIMBYism here?  Flush all of the poor people out of the capital and the surrounding areas? Make it a paradise for hedge fund managers and bankers?

Ah yes, the hedge fund managers. Enjoying their tax breaks worth £145million a year. How do these people sleep at night?

In the Haringey pilot, some 740 families were affected by the cap. Only 34 members of those families found paid employment.

It doesn’t work, does it IDS?

Oh, and I’m interested to find out what the definition of “paid employment” is as far as the Coalition are concerned. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if they were counting seasonal, casual and temp work to make their figures look better.

When will we stop demonising all poor people because of the  MINORITY that abuse the system? All systems are abused – look at the scale of corporate tax evasion. Don’t tar everybody with the same brush.

I’m disgusted.