Rachel Rose Reid
A former UK Young Storyteller of the Year, Rachel Rose Reid is making a name for herself in the ancient art of storytelling. In her self-penned show, I'm Hans Christian, she entwined modern tales of love that go awry with the unglossed fairy tales and unfulfilled sexual longings of Hans Christian Andersen, the 19th-century Danish author of more than 200 stories.
Simon Brodkin inhabits his feral comic creation Lee Nelson so completely that it's hard to imagine the north Londoner is anyone other than the sniggeringly amoral south London geezer whose council estate is his universe.
An animated new stand-up from Edgware, Lee Kern gave his Edinburgh debut show as much welly as he could, despite a thin crowd. It was clearly tough-going, and plenty of his jokes fell flat in an unpolished act, but there was passion and perseverance in abundance and an uncompromising edge that one felt would benefit from more direction.
A shaven-headed Cambridge graduate, who also works as a film-maker, Kern, 31, has an anecdotal, banterish, in-your-face approach that would probably work better in a pub than the more formal setting he found himself in.
Anthony Horowitz's dark comedy about survival is set during a dress rehearsal of "The Importance of Being Earnest". The cast are six young offenders and the play-within-a-play, set in an institution, explores whether they are beyond salvation.
It is a clever conceit to have characters conventionally associated with low culture analysing a work of high culture, whose lavish setting could not be more at odds with their own.
The Los Angeles comedian Phil Burgers' stage persona is Dr Brown, and in this off-the-wall act he chucks cornflakes and the contents of a jar of olives at the audience, tries to make out with a girl in the front row and then with a guy in the second, and gets a macho punter to join him on stage - ostensibly as a lifeguard - to rub sun oil over his body as he heads for an imaginary beach, sporting just trunks, goggles and a swimming hat.
Is there an Andy Zaltzman Appreciation Society? There should be, for the man who co-wrote and starred in the BBC Radio 4 comedy sketch show "Political Animal" is a satiremeister, or would be if there were such a creature. And in his colourful world, there probably is.
Looking and sounding more than ever like a mad professor of comedy, Zaltzman puts the S into surreal, the V into vivacious and the sword into Silvio Berlusconi - "a man who has been involved in more scandals than a dyslexic shoe-shop owner".
The Los Angeles-based thirtysomething Jewish actors Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo lay it on thick as the fiftysomething American Jewish mothers Ronna Glickman and Beverly Kahn, who punt their self-help book, "You'll Do A Little Better Next Time: a guide to marriage and re-marriage for Jewish singles", in a chat show.
Variously repeating, interrupting and scoring points off one another, eating copiously and copiously talking about eating, the heavily made-up duo are nothing if not self-indulgent.
I arrived a few minutes late for this show in the poorly signposted Pleasance Hut, but - having been warmly welcomed by Jacob Edwards on stage - was quickly transported into the zany otherworld he and fellow producer/comedian Phil Gilbert inhabit as he bent down on one knee, lifted up his friend's shirt, gripped the top of his trousers and blew several lengthy raspberries on to his stomach. "We hate that," he explained, helpfully.
"This show is a lot less Jewy than last year's," says Josh Howie, referring to his 2008 Edinburgh run, "Chosen".
"I made a vow to my agent that being Jewish is no longer going to be my schtick."
So far, so ironic. Howie's mother is the PR guru Lynne Franks, Jennifer Saunders’ inspiration for her "Absolutely Fabulous" character Eddie; and Franks’ 87-year-old mother, Angela Franks, with whom Howie lived for the past four years in Arnos Grove (latterly with his wife, Monique) is the inspiration for his painstakingly crafted, densely packed new show.