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‘I’m double-vaxxed and won’t spit on you!’ Six standups on returning to live comedy

·7-min read

Andrew Maxwell

It’s a feeling of pure joy. Over the last year and a half, I’ve recorded a lot of stuff in what I pretentiously call the studio at the end of the garden, but the fringe? I’ve spent a month every year for the past 21 years at the fringe. Weirdly, what I miss is the liminal time backstage with other comedians. Even if you absolutely storm a Zoom gig, with one click of a button you go from being on stage to instantly back in the hotel room. It’s very disconcerting. When the pandemic kicked in, I was in the middle of a tour of Ireland. At the end of 2019 I did I’m a Celebrity, and the show was called Reality – it was a bit of a play on that. I was going to take it to the fringe in 2020, but obviously it got parked. In the meantime, I carried on writing. So the show is now an amalgam of two years of material. Does it mention Covid? I’ll always point out an elephant in the room. I won’t necessarily discuss the trunk of the elephant for a solid hour or what shade of grey it is, but I always mention the elephant.

Tell us a joke: What a summer Scotland can offer! Twenty degrees every day? Granted, it’s not a great tourism slogan … Come to Scotland, it’s room temperature!
Andrew Maxwell plays the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, 27 & 28 August

Jayde Adams

When the world shut down, I was in the middle of touring a show. It was called The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face, but we had to change the name for legal reasons to Serious Black Jumper. It was the first tour I’d ever been on and I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy it. Playing live is super important because it tells me how funny I am. Telly is a very different kettle of fish, but on stage you get an immediate reaction. I’ve really missed that back-and-forth with an audience. It’s been 10 years since I started doing live performance and with my tour I’d finally worked it all out. I’d finally stopped feeling like an imposter. Then I got locked away for a year and a half, and had to meditate and make sourdough. I’ve got some fun bits planned, including a possible three-minute contemporary dance masturbation performance piece set to classical music. I performed it for someone recently and they said it was really funny, but you’ve got to remember I have been locked inside for a year and a half …

Tell us a joke: If you don’t know what a maître d’ is, it’s a waiter still doing it in his 40s.
Jayde Adams plays the Pleasance Theatre, N7, 12 to 14 August, running alongside its Edinburgh programme

Related: The Guide: Staying In – sign up for our home entertainment tips

Olga Koch

Firstly, I want everyone to know that I’m double-vaxxed, and that I won’t spit on them. This will be the first time I’ve ever taken a show to the fringe that’s not the finished product. It’s a work in progress, so that’s kind of scary. It’s not a show about Covid or lockdown, but there might be some references, simply because I existed in the past year. The first time I went to the fringe was in 2015 as a punter. It felt like Disneyland. There are so many places in the world where people say “this is a cool vibe” and I firmly believe that the Edinburgh fringe is the only place where that vibe actually exists. It’s not in Brooklyn. It’s not in Peckham. It’s at the fringe. Over the past year I’ve been doing online comedy but it doesn’t have the magic of everyone being in the same room. That being said, there have been perks: everyone tried doing a gig from the bath, which was really fun and not something you can do on stage, obviously. Though you do have to make sure you keep your hands dry and after 20 minutes the bath starts getting cold ... I could also use props and get my flatmate in it and I could cook. I’m not going to say one was better than the other, but you could enjoy them if you just took them for what they were.

Tell us a joke: Just used a BMI calculator because I missed men negging me in bars.
Olga Koch plays Monkey Barrel Comedy, Edinburgh, 9 to 15 August

Sadia Azmat

It’s just nice to have people to talk to again, especially ones who have paid for the privilege. I think the audiences will be lapping it up, too, because they’re also excited to be out of the house. In 2019, I went to the fringe and did 60 spots, gigging six or seven times a day. I wasn’t exhausted at all. For this show I’m going to be doing some new material as well as some tried and tested stuff. I do reference lockdown a little bit, but it’s not the focus, because I think people also want some escapism. I spent my lockdown writing a memoir. It’s called Sex Bomb and it’s about how sex and dating can be a bit tricky as a Muslim in a headscarf. My editor also signed Lil’ Kim’s memoir and I’m hoping my book is going to be as sexy as hers. As ethnic women Lil’ Kim was an inspiration to me in how she embraced her sexuality. The stigma is that I’m meant to be full of shame about having a libido or wanting guys and I’ve never really had that. I hope it’ll dispel some of the dated myths that are attached to Muslim women.

Tell us a joke: I get so horny I’ve actually Googled during which hours in Ramadan you can drink semen. It’s between sunset and sunrise.
Sadia Azmat plays the Pleasance Theatre, N7, 10 August

Craig Hill

For me there’s a desperation to get back to your job, especially because I live in Edinburgh. I used to work in the box office at [Edinburgh promoters] the Gilded Balloon and that’s how I started in comedy. My friend was a press officer and she booked a gig for me without telling me. She told me four days before the show, saying she thought my storytelling should be on the stage. That was 21 years ago. The festival’s a really special time. I really missed it last year. If anything though, I’ve had more time to gather more stories, because my shows are always really about my experiences. I thought they’d only be interesting when you travel, but it turns out that they’re just as interesting when you stay put. I’ve tried to avoid writing about Covid, but there are ridiculous sides to it that made me laugh. Like, why did I suddenly find myself downloading apps telling me all about marine traffic? I’m downloading birdsong apps and tree apps and I’ve turned into the square guy from school that I never thought I’d be. I even bought sealant for the bathroom and I’ve been jet washing. Now I know what the heterosexual version of me would have turned out like.

Tell us a joke: I was surprised to see a vegetable patch in my local library. That was a turnip for the books.
Craig Hill plays the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, 5 to 8, 13, 20 to 21 August

Rose and Camille of the Birthday Girls

We’re naturally anxious about every possible scenario: we feel anxious about gigging, we feel anxious about not gigging. Still, on the whole we are excited, even though we’ve heard of venues having to be shut down because the front-of-house staff have been pinged. During lockdown, we’ve been doing our podcast on Zoom, but it’s a bit difficult to do sketch comedy when you’re all in different places. Suzi Ruffell is going to be the guest on our live podcast. Every one of them is party-themed and when she was on it last time there was a “sophisticated” theme. This one is going to be the opposite. Everyone needs a chaotic time. It’ll be like at the end of a house party and the host is desperate for everyone to leave but there are those few people lingering, finishing all the alcohol and having a chat on the sofa. The chat will be fast and loose and uncensored. We answer life’s biggest questions like: “Would you have sex with a robot?”

Tell us a joke: We’re high achievers. In fact, Rose’s doctor said her anxiety questionnaire score was one of the highest he’d ever seen.
Rose and Cam’s Late Night Jam is at Not the Edinburgh Fringe, Above the Stag Theatre & Bar, SE1, 26 & 28 August

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