Edinburgh Fringe 10x10: The BAME game | Ten black and minority ethnic British comedians

Edinburgh Fringe 10x10: The BAME game

Ten black and minority ethnic British comedians

Comedy, and the Edinburgh Fringe, have made great strides in addressing the historic gender imbalance in the past decade, to the extent that comedy awards boss Nica Burns estimates that it will be eradicated in the next five to ten years.

It’s not such a great record for non-white performers, though. It took until last year for half-Samoan Rose Matafeo to become the first to take Edinburgh’s big prize. The only other person of colour to be on the winner’s podium was Richard Ayoade, as a third of Garth Marenghi's Netherhead, a full 18 years earlier. And the only non-white best newcomer was Arj Barker, 22 years ago, before some of this year’s hopefuls were born.

It’s not through lack of talent, though, so here are ten British BAME acts to watch at this year’s Fringe.

Ahir Shah

Shah’s come as close as anyone to scooping the big one, having been nominated in both of the past two years for his intelligent and passionate diatribes that mix the politics and the personal… and jokes.

It’s landed him slots on the Mash Report and Live At The Apollo, while his new show promises to encompass love, politics, culture, depression as he talks about certainties and uncertainties in life.

Monkey Barrel Comedy, 13:45

Travis Jay

With a background in poetry - though we won’t hold that against him –Jay has been performing on the comedy scene since 2009. And he has comedy pedigree, as his mum is fellow stand-up Angie Le Mar.

But it has taken until now to make his Edinburgh debut with Funny, Petty, Cool which promises such personal stories from his South London upbringing as the time he ‘accidentally’ became leader of a Black Lives Matter protest to the impact his grandfather’s death had on him.

Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 14:35

Yuriko Kotani

As a former winner of the BBC New Comedy Award, Japanese-born  Kotani’s debut hour Somosomo – which means ‘to begin with’ – is likely to attract attention. In it, she’ll speak about how she’s spent her life making sure she doesn't stick out, before embracing her individuality in the UK. And a good job, too, since conformity would have been anathema to a successful comedy career.

Pleasance Courtyard, 19:00

London Hughes

It’s also the debut for Hughes, nine years after winning the Funny Women award under her original stage name Miss London. Although she subsequently changed back to her real name to avoid confusion with any beauty pageant winners.

She’s probably one of the few people to have worked on both Babestation and CBBC… and has a raft of TV appearances to her name, even if the celebrity reality shows – the likes of Celebs Go Dating, Don't Hate The Playaz and Celebrity Game Night – outnumber comedy stints on The Stand Up Sketch Show and Mock the Week.

So her potentially 'tricky second album' sophomore Edinburgh show will certainly test her mettle as a live performer.

Pleasance Courtyard, 20:15

Phil Wang

Far more experienced is Wang, this year performing his fifth solo show at the Fringe. Bolstered by his TV appearances – most notably on Taskmaster – his run at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar has already sold out. So he’s added extra Saturday-night shows in Pleasance Beyond:

Pleasance Courtyard, 23:00, Saturdays only

Isma Almas

Bradford’s Almas has a definite story to tell this year, about adopting a black child into her Asian family. About A Buoy is a tale that promises to explore gender, religion, sexuality, race, one homophobic Muslim mother – and Freddie Mercury.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 14:45

Hari Kanth

Or you might prefer a show about NOT wanting kids. That’s the premise of the second hour from British-Sri Lankan comic Kanth, entitled This Train Terminates Here. A previous finalist in the Chortle Student Comedy Award and the BBC New Comedy Award, this former theoretical physics graduate is known his sharp, slightly nerdy, beta-male comedy.

Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire, 15:15

Sophie Duker

Another much-tipped Fringe debutant, given she already has a string of telly credits to her name, including Mock The Week and 8 Out of 10 Cats – jobs much more experienced acts would give their microphone-holding arm for.

Duker, pictured above, also co-hosts GrownUpLand on Radio 4 and is the curator of the comedy night Wacky Racists, which aims to be one of the wokest gigs around.

Pleasance Courtyard, 19:00

Sukh Ojla

Tales about moving back in with her parents at the age of 30 are the cornerstone of this comic’s debut set, following appearance on The Big Asian Stand Up and BBC Asian Network Comedy Night and in the film Victoria and Abdul alongside Judi Dench, among others.

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, 17:15

Michael Odewale

Another Fringe first-timer, and another former Chortle Student and BBC New Comedy finalist, Odewale has already won best new show at the Leicester Comedy Festival for this hour about his selfishness and apathy when it comes to the big issues – and his attempts to get better.

Pleasance Courtyard, 17:30

Published: 16 Jul 2019

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