Forecast is funny: the best comedy shows to stream this summer

Brian Logan
·4-min read

Help Save Live Comedy

The line between charity gigs and normal gigs has blurred under lockdown: most online comedy now is fundraising in one way or another. But there’s still a place for the star-studded gig-for-a-cause like these ones beamed to your home from the Clapham Grand. Hosted by Al Murray and Jayde Adams, and featuring (to name only a few) Dane Baptiste, Rachel Parris and Sophie Willan, you’ve got two chances left to see – and contribute.

Piff the Magic Dragon

“I did my first Piff act in Edinburgh,” John van der Put once said, “and it took off from there.” To be reminded that the fringe launches stellar careers, nightly this week you can stream “Jack Dee in a dragon suit” magician-comic Piff the Magic Dragon. “Hot off his record-breaking Vegas residency”, and a recent victory in America’s Tournament of Laughs, Van der Put is live on Zoom until Sunday.

Alternative Comedy Memorial Society

Champion of the weird, celebrant of the dotty, John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck’s fringier-than-the-fringe cabaret night is making 15 of its Edinburgh 2019 gigs available throughout August. Guest stars in this week’s opening shows, recorded at (and fundraising for) the Monkey Barrel, include Olga Koch, Josh Glanc and Lucy Hopkins.

Edinburgh Unlocked

At no point on any of my many fringe visits did I ever think: this would make a great audiobook. But strange times call for strange measures, and so it is that Penguin Random House has released eight hours of brand new audio comedy to fill the Edinburgh-shaped hole in all our lives. Ivo Graham, Jordan Brookes, Glamrou and Anna & Helen feature in the absolutely cracking lineup.

Comedy Central at the Edinburgh fringe

There’s no Pleasance Courtyard this year. But there’s still YouTube: similar, but dry. On week nights from 17 August, Comedy Central will be dropping daily standup sets from a host of emerging talents. The choice lineup includes Leo Reich and Fatiha El-Ghorri. Relative veteran Jamali Maddix hosts.

The Best Bits of So You Think You’re Funny

The Gilded Balloon has run this newcomers’ comedy contest for 32 years, and it’s helped launch some stratospheric careers: former winners include Aisling Bea, Peter Kay and Lee Mack. So there should be plenty to draw on for these weekly back-catalogue compilations, streamed throughout the month. Youthful sets from former fledglings Hannah Gadsby, Sarah Millican and Seann Walsh are promised.

Comedy at the Covid Arms

The breakout virtual club night of the lockdown has been Comedy at the Covid Arms, a mixed-bill MC’d by Kiri Pritchard-McLean, bantering with “front row” audience members who pay extra for the privilege. Proceeds go to the performers and the Trussell Trust food bank charity, for which £105,000 has been raised so far. This Saturday’s bill features big-hitters Lolly Adefope and David O’Doherty.

Shedinburgh

From the makers of Fleabag, comes … a proxy Edinburgh fringe, broadcast from inside a shed. That’s the idea from Francesca Moody and Gary McNair, who’ve organised three weeks of old hits and new material from the likes of Inua Ellams, Tim Crouch, McNair himself and a handful of comics. Look out for Sara Pascoe and Steen Raskopoulos’s offering (3 September), with Chloe Petts and Rosie Jones also featuring.

Fringe on Friday

Sponsored by the investment platform AJ Bell – and what could be a better investment right now than live performance?! – Fringe on Friday promises nine acts at 9pm for £9, every weekend of (what would have been) the fringe. Travis Jay, impro-rapper Abandoman, and caustic Fern Brady are all confirmed so far; theatre and cabaret acts are promised, too.

XS Malarkey

Another trusty destination for Covid-era laughs, this Manchester comedy club runs big-hitting live bills on the Twitch platform every Tuesday night (last week’s starred Josie Long and Ahir Shah) plus archive clips and chat on Sunday evenings. This week’s bonus offer is a new work-in-progress, available for one week only, from far-out fringe mainstay John-Luke Roberts.

No Direction Home

This comedy night performed by refugees and migrants was set to make its fringe debut in 2020 – until Covid struck. Undaunted, the ensemble – produced by charity Counterpoints Arts (with support from the venue I co-run, Camden People’s Theatre) and coached by the Pappy’s clown-in-chief Tom Parry – is live-streaming a gig later this month. It’s part of “Edinburgh’s social justice and human rights festival”, the Just festival. Guest-star headliner to be announced.