Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Edinburgh Fringe Festival: 13 funny female comedians to watch

By Charlotte Lytton and Tara Kelly, for CNN
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
(L-R) Janeane Garofalo, Gemma Whelan, Sarah Millican and Caroline Rhea are bringing female funny to the annual Fringe Festival in Scotland.
(L-R) Janeane Garofalo, Gemma Whelan, Sarah Millican and Caroline Rhea are bringing female funny to the annual Fringe Festival in Scotland.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The biggest arts festival in the world runs from August 2-26 in Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Female comedians from all over the globe come to perform
  • A mixture of household names and up-and-comers will be treading the boards

Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time. Each month, we meet two women at the top of their field, exploring their careers, lives and ideas.

(CNN) -- Once a year, the largest arts festival in the world takes over Scotland's capital turning the city into a smorgasbord of comedy, theater, dance and more.

Dispelling the stereotype that women can't do comedy, CNN takes a look at the funniest female comedians appearing at this year's Fringe Festival in Edinburgh.

Janeane Garofalo

Janeane Garofalo began her stand-up career in the late 1980s.
Courtesy Generate New York

Star of "The Larry Sanders Show," "Seinfeld," and "24," Janeane Garofalo is returning to the Fringe for a second time since her 2009 Edinburgh debut. The American comedy icon and two-time Emmy nominee gives punters a slice of her raw repartee in her self-titled stand-up show, which runs for just four nights.

"Janeane Garofalo." 22:45, 20th -- 23rd August, Assembly Rooms, George St, Edinburgh.

Sarah Millican

Sarah Millican has become Britain's most commercially successful female comedian.
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Sarah Millican has fast become the designated darling of comedy thanks to her regular U.K. television appearances and blistering stand-up set. With her Edinburgh tour sold out months in advance, this upcoming show looks set to be the British comedian's greatest venture yet.

"Sarah Milican: Home Bird." 18:40, 1st -- 25th August, The Stand, York Place, Edinburgh.

Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro finds mirth in misery in her new show.
Courtesy Ruthie Wyatt

Described by the illustrious Louis C.K. as "an amazing example of what comedy can be," Mississipi-born Tig Notaro makes light out of heartache in "Boyish Girl Interrupted." Having sold 75,000 copies of her live set online, Notaro is technically more popular than KISS, and a must see first Fringe show.

"Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted." 18:45, 16th -- 25th August, Gilded Balloon, Teviot Row, Edinburgh.

Sandi Toksvig

Radio favorite Toksvig has been on the airwaves for decades.
Courtesy Target Live

As a British radio comedy stalwart, Sandi Toksvig's Edinburgh show is a hot ticket at this year's Fringe. A member of the illustrious Footlights troupe during her student days at Cambridge, the half Dane has also turned her hand to novel writing, penning more than 20 books for children and adults over the past two decades.

"Sandi Toksvig, My Valentine." 16:00, 3rd -- 11th August, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh.

Lucy Porter

Lucy Porter returns to The Stand this year for another stand-out stand-up set.
Steve Ullathorne

After a brief break from the stand-up world, Lucy Porter returns to Edinburgh with her chatty and witty humor. In this year's show, expect to hear Porter's hilarious tales from her quest to find her spiritual home in the north of England.

"Lucy Porter -- Northern Soul." 17:10, 31st July -- 25th August, The Stand, York Place, Edinburgh.

Bec Hill

Australian comic Bec Hill uses arts and crafts in her comedy sets.
Paula Harrowing

Fringe regular Bec Hill returns to Edinburgh this year fresh off the back of her European tour. Having performed stand-up since the age of 19, Hill is no stranger to the live circuit in both Britain and her native Australia, and the purveyor of 'paper puppetry' looks set to have another hit show this year.

"Bec Hill: Bec by Popular Demand." 16:00, 1st -- 25th August, Gilded Balloon, Bristo Square, Edinburgh.

Claudia O'Doherty

Australian Claudia O'Doherty is a veritable oddball comic.
Courtesy Invisible Dot

As one of the breakout hits of last year's Fringe, Aussie Claudia O'Doherty's set is definitely one to look out for. The self-proclaimed 'cheer-jerker' returns to the Festival for the fourth time with "Pioneer," a guaranteed mix of all things odd.

"Claudia O'Doherty: Pioneer." 21:50, 31st July - 26th August, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh.

Katerina Vrana

Katerina Vrana performs stand-up in both Greek and English.
Courtesy Katerina Vrana

Bringing a slice of sunshine to Scotland this year is Katerina Vrana, a Greek born U.K. dweller who can even deliver sets in both languages. Following a sell out tour at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival earlier this year, Vrana's debut solo show confronts stereotypes, identity and delusions of grandeur.

Katerina Vrana, "Feta with the Queen." 22:00, 2nd -- 25th August, Laughing Horse @ Espionage, Victoria St, Edinburgh.

Caroline Rhea

Caroline Rhea is best known for her role in "Sabrina the Teenage Witch."
Steve Ullathorne

Alongside her legacy as Aunt Hilda in "Sabrina, the teenage witch," Caroline Rhea has enjoyed a successful stand-up career to date, including several past outings at the Fringe. Her newest show includes a variety of spontaneous musings from one of America's best loved small screen stars.

"Caroline Rhea." 20:15, 31st July -- 26th August, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh.

Susan Calman

Pint-sized comic Susan Calman isn't shy when it comes to stage or screen.
Steve Ullathorne

Susan Calman's comedy CV is undoubtedly one of the most masterful on the circuit. Having appeared across radio, television and the stage for nearly a decade, the diminutive Scot is developing her latest show with the help of an Edinburgh audience this summer.

"Susan Calman: Always (A Work in Progress)." 18:00, 1st -- 12th August, Stand III & IV, York Place, Edinburgh.

Zoe Lyons

Panel show regular Zoe Lyons is back on the live circuit this summer.
Courtesy Impressive PR

Acerbic satirist Zoe Lyons is gracing the Fringe this year with "Pop up Comic" -- a show that isn't afraid to ask the big questions. Prams for dogs and so much more are covered with the trademark Lyons energy that has cemented her status as a favorite on the U.K. hit show "Mock the Week."

"Zoe Lyons -- Pop up Comic." 17:00, 1st -- 25th August, Assembly Rooms, George St, Edinburgh.

Gemma Whelan

Character comedian Gemma Whelan takes to the Fringe as Chastity Butterworth.
Courtesy My Heart Skipped a Beat

"Game of Thrones" star Gemma Whelan is no stranger to the small screen, but this year sees her take character comedy to Edinburgh's stage for the first time. Chastity Butterworth, Whelan's charming yet incongruous creation, is going all out this year.

"Chastity Butterworth & The Spanish Hamster." 17:45, 31st July -- 26th August, Assembly Roxy, Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh.

Bridget Christie

Bridget Christie: one of the funniest feminist comedians on the block.
Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

Offbeat comedian Bridge Christie returns to the Fringe this year with her latest offering "A Bic for Her." As a front runner in the funny feminist brigade, Christie's eighth solo Edinburgh show looks set to be her usual winning mix of avant-garde entertainment.

"Bridget Christie -- A Bic for Her." 11:10, 3rd -- 25th August, The Stand, York Place, Edinburgh.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
In 2006 she sold her business to Estée Lauder in a reported multi-million dollar deal, five years later she started a brand new company.
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs have come from women, though like so many inventors their names are lost in the pages of history.
updated 8:02 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
Leading Women hosted a Twitter Chat celebrating girls in science with guests including race car drivers, software developers and coders.
updated 5:36 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
There's a fine science to running a billion dollar company. Rosalind Brewer should know -- she used to study chemistry.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu October 9, 2014
Join our twitter chat @CNNIwomen on October 9 at 5pm GMT/12pm EST and look for #CNNwomen #IDG14.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
STEM experts from Marissa Mayer to Weili Dai share their thoughts to celebrate International Day of the Girl.
updated 6:32 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
When it comes to buildings, they don't come much different than a mosque and a nightclub.
updated 9:20 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen -- or so the saying goes.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
These 12 fashion experts have millions of followers, but who is the most social woman in fashion?
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mindy Grossman has been the driving force behind making the Home Shopping Network both hip and profitable, but she still makes time for herself.
updated 9:18 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Nelly Ben Hayoun speaking at NASA Ames research center
Nelly Ben Hayoun is on a mission to convince the world to take threats such as asteroid strikes more seriously.
updated 10:33 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
Shenan Chuang turned Ogilvy China into the world's third biggest ad agency, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout asks how she did it.
ADVERTISEMENT