Life & Culture

Edinburgh Fringe: six of the best

Lee Levitt picks out some must-see shows for Jewish Festival goers


Fringe month is upon us once again, or more accurately upon the good folk of Edinburgh, whether they like it or not. The world’s largest arts festival is coming to town.

The Fringe programme, with more than 3,000 entries crammed into its 452 pages, always throws up a wealth of possibilities for the Jewish show watcher. There are enough Jewish comedians and Jewish-themed shows to go to at least one for each of the 25 (official) days of the Fringe, which starts on Friday August 4. From the aspiring Joe Jacobs (Joe Jacobs: Ripe at Sweet Holyrood), via the established Lee Nelson (Lee Nelson: Serious Joker at Pleasance Courtyard) to the veteran Jewish gagster Ivor Dembina (two shows including Old Jewish Jokes at Laughing Horse @ Finnegan’s Wake), there’s a smorgasbord of Jewish talent, comedic and otherwise. So, without further ado, here’s six not to miss.


Ami and Tami

 Part of the children’s shows section, this reimagined story of Hansel and Gretel by the Grimm brothers, featuring singing, dancing and live music, was seeded in a high school in Jerusalem in 1997. It was then that Matti Kovler, the Russian-born Israeli-American composer, and Aya Lavie, the lyricist, met and planned to create a parody on Jewish mothers, inspired by Broadway and Russian musical films. The musical fable premiered in Jerusalem in 1999 and comes to Edinburgh after sold-out performances in New York. It is staged by the Brooklyn-based Floating Tower and narrated by Sonya Hamlin, a 93-year-old Emmy award-winning actress, communications expert and former television talk-show host.

Underbelly, Cowgate, Aug 11-24


Comedy from 

It’s good to see a return to some semblance of Israeli activity on the Fringe after several years of a boycott-induced vacuum, and this show is what’s known in the biz as putting yourself out there. David Kilimnick, a 40-year-old New York-born former rabbi and the founder of the Off the Wall Comedy Basement, Jerusalem’s only comedy club, will be making his Edinburgh debut at an hour when most rabbis are normally tucked up in bed. Also appearing are Shahar Hason, 41, and Yohay Sponder, 35. The show, ironically, is in the venue’s Bunker Room.

Laughing Horse @ Vic St Coffee Co, Aug 17, 19-24, 26-27


Andy Zaltzman: 
Satirist for Hire (World of 2017 
Special Edition)

The host of the “legendary podcast The Bugle”, as his programme entry trumpets, offers to deliver satire on commission. All you have to do is email your “satiricoquery” via and the alleged comedian, as the stand-up, broadcaster and author self-deprecatingly refers to himself, will satirise to order. A tall task in lesser hands, but the cricket-loving Zaltzman has big mitts and is more than capable of delivering. Unlike his favourite team. England I think they’re called.

The Stand Comedy Club, Aug 15-27

Zaltzman will also be hosting the first Fringe live performance of the podcast featuring “live guests and freshly-hewn satire.

New Town Theatre, Aug 16 
and 27


Candy Gigi Presents: Becky Rimmer’s Bat Mitzvah!

Gigi, aka Candy Markham, 28, from Barkingside, is a former pupil of King Solomon high school and a musical theatre graduate from north London’s Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Her show last year If I Had a Rich Man, which took seven months to write, was an anarchic satire on the desperate search for a Jewish husband, performed to the tunes of Fiddler on the Roof. Pulsating with wild energy, it had the audience in stitches. Some were even hauled on to the stage, bawled at and made to wear a false beard and a black hat and to swing a dead chicken around. Expect similar manic originality. You have been warned.

Heroes @ The Hive, Aug 4-12, 15-21, 23-27

Exhibition and 
Gala Concert

For three days only, the International Shalom Festival offers the chance to enter a Bedouin tent, enjoy Israeli cooking, practise Hebrew and Arabic, try on Maskit fashion, view original art and to hear from Jewish and Arab Israelis about coexistence. The concert, on the final evening, features the Petah Tikva band Jamaya, who have been playing together since they were 16, along with Meskie Shibru-Sivan, an Ethiopian-Israeli actress and singer. The festival’s artistic director is Hadar Galron, a writer, actor and comedian. Given the dearth of Israelis at the Fringe in recent years and the unwelcoming atmosphere, it has the makings of being a great evening.

Drummond Community High School, Aug 8-10.


Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale

 “Marlon’s a Jew,” Marlon Solomon, a 38-year-old actor from Manchester, says in his listing in the spoken word section of the Fringe programme. “This didn’t bother him much until he realised that some people he knew didn’t believe the Holocaust happened. This is a darkly comic tale of one

Black Market 8, 32 Market Street, EH 1 1QB , Aug 5-13, 15-26


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