We spent the first weekend of the 70th Edinburgh Fringe Festival looking for fun, free comedy events. The main purpose of our time was to find comedy which was suitable for our students. When English is not your first language it can be difficult understanding comedy, but it is possible! Firstly it involves preparation. I spent a few weeks sifting through the 70th Fringe brochure. ( There are thousands of pages) This was proving to be time consuming so I switched to the official Fringe website, www.edfringe.com with a lot more success. Register an account and narrow down the search to your chosen field. We searched for FREE comedy and then narrowed it down further to find shows “suitable when English is not your first language” This still left us with so many options which can be daunting. If I am honest I didn’t know what to expect. Would this experience be the biggest joke?

Our first stop was a huge success and was titled Adrian Minkowicz: Best Newcomer. Adrian is originally from Argentina but living in Brooklyn. He is performing through a language which is not his first so we feel like a lot of our students can relate to him! He plays up to the stereotype and embraces it, which is what made it such an interesting and fun show . This show is free but Adrian asks if you can give him what you think the show is worth. This is normal and we think it is more than acceptable to give £5 (or more if you can) for an hour long show. This show was located at venue 156 The Banshee Labyrinth. A small but intimate crowd. We were off to a goo start.

Unfortunately not all shows run as smooth as this one and we were just about to find that out.Marcus Ryan’s “¿hablas Ingles?” At the Free Sisters (venue 272) sounded so promising but was a total disaster from the beginning. This storytelling show was not for us or many others who swiftly left. The full story behind this fiasco can be found on his Facebook page! This is just part of the experience and proof that you should not go to shows solely on the bases that they are free! A mistake does not need to ruin your day though just move on to the next show and forget about it. Ensure you have a lot of change or £5 notes with you for the day kept in a safe place. Another tip is to make sure you have a few back up shows to go to see in case some shows don’t turn out as planned. A few of our shows we wanted to see were either too full to get in or were too far away to walk from the previous venue. It goes without saying to wear comfortable clothes and shows as the Edinburgh weather can be unpredictable at the best of times! We stopped at various points throughout the day to drink water and have food. It is important not to get dehydrated as you may start to get lethargic walking through the crowded streets.  

We recommend everyone goes to see at least one paid show. We picked Foil, Arms & Hog with their comedy sketch show “Oink.” The show is on at The Underbelly in George Square (venue 300) This type of comedy is visual and their sketches are short and witty making them easy to understand. Accents are used to differentiate characters, it was a wonderfully fun night of entertainment. We highly recommend them! If you do decide to go on a suggestion from a friend we urge you look the act up on www.youtube.com to see some clips or previous material. This can save disappointment on the day of the show! Overall we were very lucky with the acts we went to see and we are happy to recommend them not just to our students but to friends as well! We also went to see Andrew Maxwell (another Irish comedian) His show “Showtime” is professional, smooth and laugh out loud funny. Andrew is at his 22nd Fringe so he is no stranger to such a huge audience. A great experience although at £15 a ticket it might not be for everyone price range.


Free shows worth a mention:

  • Mark Simmons- One Linerer located at Venue 32 in the Bar Bados (witty One liners, suitable if you have a have a high level of English)
  • Jinx Yeo- Abnormal Asian which is in Venue 185 at Espionage. (We loved this guy!)
  • Comedy Tapas- located at Opium venue 96 is a selection of Comedians every day (some may not show up so be prepared and just go with the flow!)
  • Ross Smith and Nathan D’Arcy Roberts- Hardest Working Men in Show Business this show is at Venue 27 Just the Tonic at the Community Project.  (a varied performance which is both funny and sad at times, very enjoyable)


So the reason we are writing this is really just to say that there is comedy out there for everyone learning English no matter what your level. The difficulty might be finding it, but we can help you with that! Once you do find what you like though, enjoy the experience as we did! Remember to live like a local. Personally I don’t want you to just take our word for shows your might enjoy, go and see some bad shows and then you will appreciate the good! The easiest way to do this is to take some flyers as you walk by some venues and just take a risk. It could be worth it. What does comedy mean to you? Is it important in your culture? That is what we are going to be talking about in my workshop today and we will continue this theme in the blog next week!


Simply English Edinburgh


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