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Fringe On-Demand: The best of this year’s stand-up to stream at home

Staff Writer

Reading time: 9 mins

Every summer, comedians, performers, writers, dancers and musicians descend upon Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. Over 24 days, more than 50,000 performances take place in hundreds of venues throughout the Scottish capital. The result is the country’s biggest celebration of arts and culture, and a wonderful showcase for a vibrant, diverse wave of stand-up comics, both new and established, all looking to find an audience.

In this streaming age, though, discovering your new favourite stand-up stars is easier than ever. Can’t make it to Edinburgh this August? From Amazon Prime Video and Netflix to stand-up subscription service NextUp, we round up some of the best of this year’s stand-up talents available to stream in your living room. (Book tickets for any of the below names’ Fringe shows at the festival’s official site.)

Laura Lexx

Laura Lexx is the kind of stand-up comedian who immediately makes you want to be their friend – an effect that’s the result of both her extreme candour about her own life and the fact that she’s hilarious. While the Brighton-based comic wins more positive reviews and fans at the 2019 Fringe with her topical special Kneejerk (one word: netball), her 2016 show, Tyrannosaurus Lexx, sees her delve into family relationships, while tackling the challenge of being a married couple, all served up with a bubbly charisma, a long fringe and an acutely observed balance of 90s nostalgia and new media angst. Think Sarah Millican or Victoria Wood for a new generation, then stop thinking and start telling your actual friends.

Show Tyrannosaurus Lexx

Available on NextUp (£3.50 a month – 30 day free trial)

Nish Kumar

Nish is on fire in his current tour, It’s in Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves, which makes it no surprise that he was selected as a UK comedian for Netflix’s Comedians of the World showcase. But The Mash Report host dials down the satire that he normally deploys for his streaming showcase, instead laying into the board game Monopoly and why it’s a fundamentally harmful thing to play with your family and kids. He’s brash, confident, witty and constantly praises himself for being all of those things – it’s a perfect half-hour demonstration of what makes him an interesting talent, without duplicating the scorching material from Fringe show.

Show Comedians of the World

Available on Netflix (£7.99 a month – 30 day free trial)

Rachel Parris

Nish’s fellow star of The Mash Report is at the Fringe with fellow improvisers Marcus Brigstocke, Pippa Evans and Paul Foxcroft, but NextUp gives you a chance to see her shine in her own right, and she doesn’t disappoint. Best Laid Plans sees her breezily drift between songs and stories of adulthood, hopping from musical theatre numbers to jazz riffs, each number stitched together with witty lyrics, a catchy energy and her signature outrageous deadpan served with a scathingly sharp positivity.

Show Best Laid Plans

Available on NextUp (£3.50 a month – 30 day free trial)

Daniel Cook

Some people can people you laugh just with their voice. Daniel Cook can make you laugh with a single look. He heads to 2019’s Fringe alongside Rose Johnson (Two Gorgeous Stand-Ups), but you can taste his manic energy and frenzied rage from anywhere in the country with For Money, available on NextUp (and categorised, aptly, in the Angry section). His impossibly funny facial expressions and pointed stares are worth watching for alone, and his frenetic pacing is infectiously unusual, but the physical comedy and verbal tics secretly hide an impeccable sense of timing and storytelling.

Show For Money

Available on NextUp (£3.50 a month – 30 day free trial)

Joz Norris

Joz Norris is not your typical stand-up comedian. He doesn’t deliver punchlines as much as he drifts off down every conversational tangent possible. He has a bizarre, disarming conversational style that doesn’t shy away from any topic, all pieced together with the kind of off-the-cuff chaos that conceals a carefully crafted string of stories and anecdotes, which covers his upbringing and more with a free range likeability. All the while, he weaves a web for himself out of string that seems to have no purpose, but teases with its promise of a bigger picture. The result is compellingly offbeat and enjoyably relaxed, and topped off by a surreal, disturbing, laugh-out-loud stunt involving a baby.

Show The Incredible Joz Norris Locks Himself Inside His Own Show, Then Escapes, Against All the Odds!!

Available on NextUp (£3.50 a month – 30 day free trial)

Eleanor Morton

Positioned somewhere between the warmth and whimsy of a well-knit jumper and the scathing bitter cynicism of an old person, Eleanor Morton’s stand-up is wound wonderfully tight – and unwinds on stage with a tell-all exhale of awkward honesty. Tackling her anxiety and her fears, her subject matter is delicately spiky, but it’s the little details that mark her out as one to watch: the way she pronounces random words in an unusual way never feels to get a giggle, while her musical interludes, including a savage parody of Jessie J and a world-weary ode to clubbing, are quietly excellent.

Show Lollipop

Available on NextUp (£3.50 a month – 30 day free trial)

Josie Long

Back at the Fringe with a new show for the first time in five years, tackling new motherhood, Josie Long’s Live from the BBC showcase is a perfect introduction to the comic’s unique mix of political awareness, quiet rage at the state of the world and – underneath it all – a relentless drive for kindness and happiness that gives even her most political tirades a warm, engaging quality.

Show Live from the BBC

Available on BBC iPlayer (Free)

Stewart Lee

If you’ve missed his work-in-progress show at the Fringe this year, don’t miss the chance to binge through the whole of his hysterical Comedy Vehicle. The series, which comprises recordings of 30-minute sets from his various tours, is a box set stuffed with smug tirades and educated, middle-class opinions, all designed to ruin stand-up comedy as we know it. For those who don’t like his intellectual concerns and patronising tone, he’s impossible to tolerate. For those who do, he makes it impossible to tolerate other comedians. That’s the brilliance of Stewart Lee’s stand-up: either way, everyone ends up miserable.

Show Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle

Available on BBC iPlayer (Free)

Sofie Hagen

The Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer winner is talking about memory at the 2019 Fringe, but you’ll certainly remember her stint on Live from the BBC, which hilariously captures her strangely engaging style of storytelling. From an unusual sexual encounter some very intense fan fiction, Hagen constantly gives the sense that she’s confiding in only a select few people, delivering each anecdote with an unpredictable air and a winning honesty.

Show Live from the BBC

Available on BBC iPlayer (Free)

Ivo Graham

Describing her own work as “anxious blather”, Ivo Graham is fully aware of precisely the kind of person he is: the kind who’s not the favourite child of his parents just the most available, who wears his elite eduction on his sleeve and spends most of his time mocking it, and who hops between topics with a crafty wit that ensures his nervous energy always keeps you watching.

Show Live from the BBC

Available on BBC iPlayer (Free)

Max & Ivan

In a sea of stand-up comics and solo outings, it’s always a joy to see some multi-character sketch comedy both at the Fringe and at home. Max & Ivan are up there with The Pin and Famalam for modern skits, and The Reunion is a slick, silly, supremely funny demonstration of their skills. Taking the form of a high school reunion, the resulting story weaves together flashbacks and callbacks with a teen movie nostalgia that leaves you splitting your sides and unsure about what exactly will happen next.

Show The Reunion

Available on NextUp (£3.50 a month – 30 day free trial)

Other Fringe Favourites:

These comedians aren’t at the 2018 Fringe, but they’ve won or been nominated for Edinburgh Comedy Awards in the past: Bridget Christie: Stand Up for Her (Netflix, £7.99 a month)

Bridget Christie is a blazing tour de force of righteous anger at a world that has been ruined by men for far too long. Her astute disassembling of patriarchal constructs is at once hilarious and rousing – it’s no wonder that she took home the main Edinburgh Comedy Award back in 2013. Stand Up for Her, essentially a best-of from several shows, is a showcase of one of Britain’s most interesting, exciting, and hysterical voices on the circuit. You’ll never look at yoghurt, pens or TV adverts in the same way again.

Watch on Netflix UK

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (Netflix, £7.99 a month)

“I’ve made my story into a joke,” Hannah Gadsby tells us in her comedy special, Nanette. It’s the starting point of all stand-up, the foundation of the form: experience becomes anecdote, situation becomes set-up, resolution becomes punchline. But Gadsby, as she breaks these rules down for us, turns her personal tale into something much more than your average stand-up set. It’s humour as a weapon, laughter as a counterpoint to anger. The result is an astonishing, powerful special that will destroy you – and possibly comedy too. (

Watch on Netflix UK James Acaster (Netflix, £7.99 a month)

In a Netflix first, James Acaster has released four stand-up specials (Recognise, Represent, Reset, and Recap) as a single series. Collecting together a string of material nominated multiple times for the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, this is a dizzyingly unique piece of comedy that combines absurd British wit with something approaching performance art in its own right. (Read our full review)

Watch on Netflix UK Famalam (BBC Three)

Keiran Hodgson was nominated for the 2016 Edinburgh Comedy Award, but he also recently made an appearance in Famalan, BBC Three’s sketch show that deserves a mention on any list of comedy recommendations in 2018. Starring an all-black lead cast of Samson Kayo, Vivienne Acheampong, John MacMillan, Roxy Sternberg, Tom Moutchi, Gbemisola Ikumelo and Akemnji Ndifornyen, the ensemble are all pitch-perfect in their delivery of a varied collection of skits and parodies, from spoof Nollywood productions and intense girlfriends to a prince sending genuine emails overseas and an inspired reworking of Midsomer Murders, which replaces DI Barnaby with Detective Moses Mountree. Think The Fast Show, but with a perspective that’s long been missing from mainstream TV comedy.

Watch on BBC iPlayer

Felicity Ward

Another comedian given a deserving spotlight by BBC Three’s Live from the BBC is Felicity Ward, who heads to BBC’s Radio Theatre to record a 30-minute set. The Australian comic gets half an episode to impress and her sharp dissection of toilet attendants and insomnia is balanced with an unpredictable delivery that keeps you on your toes. There’s a frantic, non-stop style to her delivery, which she harnesses to build a persona of insecurity and neuroses that’s so entirely convincing it just might be true. It’s testament to how effective it is that you get swept up in her hyper energy even when it’s only on camera.

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