20/07/2012 12:59 BST | Updated 19/09/2012 06:12 BST

The Cowards Guide to Comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Well the excitement is building as the big event is now only a matter of days away. And despite organisational chaos, worries about the cost and the weather, the participants are ready for the off, having spent months, if not years in meticulous preparation. No, I'm not talking about the Olympics, but the annual comedy trade fair/booze up that is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

If you're lucky enough to have been up to the festival in recent years you'll know that there has been an explosion in the number of comedy shows at the Fringe (now said to make up 36% of all the shows), with the number of performers seemingly rising at an exponential rate.

Consequently, looking through the brochure or the reviews and trying to pick who to see has become a nightmare. So to help you out I've prepared a quick and easy Tony Cowards Insider Guide to some of the jargon you'll see used on posters, flyers and in reviews to describe various types of comedy and stand up comic.


Experienced: Ageing hack.

Youthful: Inexperienced and probably a bit rubbish.

Musical comedian: Someone who's not really good enough to be either a musician or a comedian.

Comedy poet: Someone who can't be bothered to learn their material and just reads it out of a book.

Edgy: A comedian who swears a lot.

Ground-breaking: A comedian who swears a lot and makes jokes about paedophilia.

Boundary pushing: A comedian who swears a lot and makes jokes about paedophilia AND rape.

Whimsical: Hasn't got any jokes.

Storyteller: Hasn't got any jokes.

Great improviser: Hasn't got any jokes.

Chatty: Hasn't got any jokes.

Fantastic compére: Hasn't got any jokes but can ask people questions.

Crowd pleaser: Tells knob jokes.

A comedian's comedian: Someone who doesn't make audiences laugh but other comedians find hilarious because of the awkwardness.

Legendary: Managed to stay in the business for over 15 years.

Fresh faced: Destined to be a T4 presenter within six months.

Rising star: Has a parent who works in the business.

Award winning: Tells sad, poignant stories with a theme.

Award nominated: Tells sad, poignant stories with a theme but not well enough to win, possibly too funny, did some jokes.

Topical: Has reworked old "John Prescott is fat" jokes into "Eric Pickles is fat" jokes.

Political: Dull.

Sold out: Managed to fill their 20 seat venue 80% of the time last year

Five Star Review: Was seen by the 1980s pop group from Romford who said it was rubbish

Cult: Liked by a few, slightly weird people who will follow anything as long as it's esoteric.

Laddish: Tells knob jokes

High energy: Shouts a lot

As seen on Mock the Week: Not a woman

As seen on Live at the Apollo: Is probably managed by Michael McIntyre's agent, Addison Cresswell.

Not for the faint-hearted: Will probably drop the 'C-bomb' with alarming regularity.

Poignant: No jokes, expect to cry rather than laugh.

Offbeat: Spouts random nonsense which an important reviewer once praised so it must be funny.

Controversial: Once offended an audience member and managed to get a mention in the Daily Mail. Possibly racist.

Must see: Sold out, no chance of getting any tickets

Returns with his/her award winning show: Couldn't be bothered to write another hour and has decided to flog a dead horse.

Has a buzz about them: Has a very good PR agent with connections to the press.

It's by no means an exhaustive list but if you are wandering along the Royal Mile this August with a handful of soggy flyers, hopefully this guide will help in your enjoyment of the World's Greatest Arts Festival.

The laddish Tony Cowards is not appearing in Edinburgh this year.

Pic courtesy of Edinburgh Festival.