Ten Edinburgh comics who were at the Fringe 20 years ago | Stalwarts of the festival

Ten Edinburgh comics who were at the Fringe 20 years ago

Stalwarts of the festival

The Fringe may often focus on the bright new things – but there are also stalwarts who return time and again to present a new show to an attentive audience. We’ve dug out our dog-eared – and notably thin – 2002 Edinburgh Fringe programme to spotlight some comics still here 20 years on.

Simon Munnery

Simon Munnery is to the Edinburgh Fringe what the ravens are to the Tower of London. His 2002 show, Noble Thoughts Of A Noble Mind, came two years after his arrest for causing a breach of the peace during Arthur Smith’s late-night alternative tour of the city. That incident is the basis for Munnery’s new offering, Trials and Tribulations. The Stand 3.15pm

Stewart Lee

Another comic with a long Fringe pedigree who has, of course, collaborated with Munnery on several projects. Lee was in Edinburgh for only a short run in 2002, deconstructing The Owl And The Pussycat at the Traverse Theatre in a late-night slot over just five nights. This year, he’s doing two shows a day: a work-in-progress hour, Basic Lee, The Stand, 10am and the last dates of half of his previous tour, Snowflake, The Stand’s New Town Theatre, 1.50pm. Meanwhile, Lee’s erstwhile double act partner Richard Herring – who was at the Fringe in 2002 with his penis-based Talking Cock show – is this year doing his RHLSTP talk show. Assembly Rooms. 1pm, August 3-14 only.

Mark Watson

2002 was Mark Watson’s first time at the Fringe as a solo performer, having previously been in a Cambridge Footlights show. He was up taking part in the Daily Telegraph Open Mic final – which he won. Watson has brought some magnificently ambitious projects to the festival since, including his legendary 24-hour-plus gigs. This year he’s back with his stand-up show Mark Watson: This Can't Be It following its debut at last year’s reduced Fringe (our review) Pleasance Courtyard, 9pm

Rich Hall

In 2002 he was at the Assembly Rooms in the guise of his grizzled country singer Otis Lee Crenshaw, backed by The Black Liars, while also in a two-hander with his pal, the Canadian comic Mike Wilmot. This year, he is back at the same same venue with a title that may come back to haunt him if punters don’t read it all the way through: Sold Out: Tickets Still Available. In Hall’s words, it promises to be ‘a show of such staggering and hilarious transcendence its reference to plunge all of the Fringe, shows into a dusky perma-shadow’.  Assembly Rooms 7.40pm from 13th


As seen on Des O’Connor’ heralded the poster for the Australia-based Irishman’s show in 2012. He’s been back almost every year since with his laid-back absurd ramblings – including this one. Just The Tonic Nucleus 8.40pm.

Jo Caulfield

If there aren’t many women on this list, that’s because there weren’t many women at the 2002 Fringe, but Jo Caulfield was one of them, calling herself an ‘enchanting bitch’ in the blurb for her Pleasance show. This year – after sharing the comedians’ comedian award for best circuit comedian of last year with Ninia Benjamin and Mark Nelson – she’s back with  Here Comes Trouble. The Stand 8.20pm

Jason Byrne

Fresh from being nominated for the Perrier the previous year, Byrne was back with his high-energy nonsense at Pleasance Over The Road in 2002 – now Assembly Roxy – in 2002. This year he has two shows, The Paddy Lama Shed Talks, a one-man storytelling hour in honour of his dad, Paddy, who died recently and was always ready with some odd advice. Underbelly Bristo Square 2.30pm. Plus his stand-up show Unblocked – named after both getting his heart unblocked in surgery and the reopening of the live comedy scene. heart unblocked. Underbelly, Bristo Square - McEwan Hall 7.30pm

Marcus Brigstocke

Twenty years ago, Brigstocke was here both with a stand-up show and with his sketch troupe Club Seals with Dan Tetsell, now an actor, and Danny Robins, who wrote the hit West End show 2:22 A Ghost Story. This year he returns with Absolute Shower, which ‘celebrates the personal triumphs and small victories of the past couple of years... while acknowledging it has, in so many ways, on so many days, for the most part, been an absolute shower of shit’. Pleasance Dome, 8pm

Lucy Porter

In 2002 her first proud credit was that she had written for Johny Vaughan. Now she’s got QI, Would I Lie To You, Live At The Apollo, The News Quiz and The Now show to her name. This year’s offering, Wake-Up Call, is all about revelations and epiphaniesboth large and small. Pleasance Courtyard 5.20pm

David O’Doherty

2002 was O’Doherty’s second show – following his 2000 debut which had secured a Perrier best newcomer nomination. Though he hadn’t quite yet made enough of an impact on the comedy scene to avoid the Fringe programme misspelled his surname ‘O’Docherty’ twice. This year’s show is entitled Whoa Is Me. Assembly George Square 7.30pm.

PS: Other acts with shows at the Fringe 20 years ago included Peter Kay, Miranda Hart, Noel Fielding, Jimmy Carr, Alan Carr, John Oliver and Flight Of The Conchords

Published: 27 Jul 2022

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