The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.
Feeling pink? You might want to check out comedian Christopher Hall's stand-up show currently playing Edinburgh Festival Fringe, downstairs at Just the Tonic at the Caves' Just Out of the Box. The unique venue makes you feel like you're in an underground sauna, but once Hall and his shocking pink locks take the stage, you'll be laughing too hard to care.
Hall is somewhat new to the scene, having recently built up a healthy online following thanks to some viral TikToks and Instagram videos. Hall has found the most success with videos of him and his sister Elizabeth dancing and lip-syncing as fictitious back-up singers for popstars like Dolly Parton, LeAnn Rimes, and Faith Hill. That might not immediately sound hilarious, but watch one. They're undeniably charming, harkening to the dumb, but secretly brilliant and imitably playful, things we do to entertain ourselves with friends. It doesn't have to make sense—that might just be the point.
Hall has successfully turned that online following into success at this year's Fringe Festival, where he's been selling out shows since starting his run August 3. Subtitled Self Helpless, Hall's hour-long program explores the comic's struggle with co-dependence and a rocky journey towards true wellness. Amongst his troubles are a crippling phone addiction and a therapist who dropped him after he sent too many memes over texts. We've all been there.
But don't focus too much on any specific premise. Hall hasn't really. He takes frequent detours to talk about everything from being recognized by a TikTok fan while getting his butt waxed to some pretty passionate feelings about Hocus Pocus and its controversial sequel Hocus Pocus 2. All of it is funny, with Hall showing he has some serious potential as a rising star in the comedy world beyond those TikToks.
Also in the spotlight is Hall's skill at interacting with an audience. He frequently calls on attendees to share their own connections with the topics at hand, which Hall then spins into hilarious new jokes exclusive to each individual performance. Hall exudes a special charm that make these moments a particular highlight, so much so that at least three audience members at our performance were back for a second viewing even though the bulk of the show is the same every night
Of special note to Playbill readers, Hall reveals early in the show that he's a theatre kid. In fact, he ascribes some of that energy as a cause of his co-dependency ("I prefer being with a cast," he says). Self Helpless isn't really theatre themed, but Hall's point of view and sense of humor will be familiar to anybody used to going out to brunch with their fabulous cast mates. As many of us know, there really are no people like show people.
In fact, that might be Hall's strongest trait as a stand-up artist. His show feels less like a performance and more like hanging out with a friend, one who happens to be especially witty and brimming with strongly held opinions and hot takes.
Hall also calls on a few special guests to mix things up during the show. Each performance features a short set from another comic—at the performance we attended, it was Amy Webber. She offered a hilarious preview of her own Fringe show No Previous Experience, putting her "useless" opera degree to good use by singing her CV as a unique job-hunting tactic—another highlight of the evening.
At the end of the show, Hall's viral co-star, his sister Elizabeth, joined him on stage for a live re-creation of their back-up performance to Faith Hill's "This Kiss." It would appear that Hall, like any good showman, knows to give an audience what they want. He does it remarkably well, and it's perpetual bliss.
Christopher Hall: Self Helpless is running at Just the Tonic at The Caves' Just Out of the Box through August 27. For tickets, click here.