his is the time of year when I would usually be writing my annual Edinburgh Fringe comedy preview. But nothing is usual in 2021. While the Edinburgh Fringe is at least going ahead this year, it will be smaller than in recent years with fewer star attractions.
So why not avoid travel, dubious Airbnbs and random weather and celebrate London’s Fringe instead? One of the few pandemic positives is the amount of comedy in the capital this summer. Below we cherry pick the best of the bunch as the comedy world makes up for lost time.
The purple cow is heading west this year, to Earl’s Court
The Wonderground and The Underbelly festivals used to brighten up the South Bank but this year the Underbelly’s famous inflatable purple cow venue has headed west to Earls Court, while there is a new Underbelly venue in Cavendish Square off Oxford Street.
Both events mix comedy with circus, cabaret and variety. At The Wonderground, comic livewire Mawaan Rizwan (Sept 11) hosts a night celebrating Pride, while New York newcomer Janine Harouni (Sept 23) rubs shoulders with musical comedian Jess Robinson (Sept 26).
Back at Cavendish Square there is a live podcast outing for high energy sketch combo Birthday Girls (Aug 21), spoof gallic grump Marcel Lucont (Sept 23) and ex-podium dancer – strange but true – Marcus Brigstocke (Sept 23).
Stag Theatre – Not The Edinburgh Fringe
This new Vauxhall cabaret lounge is staging its own mini-alt Edinburgh, ranging from theatre and cabaret to improvised shows – just when you think every improv variant has been tried here’s the Dragprov duo (Aug 13, 14), putting an LGBTQ spin on the audience suggestion format. And watch Sooz Kempner singing musical comedy penned by Jerry Springer The Opera composer Richard Thomas in Wrong Songs (Aug 27 – 29).