I saw a lot of shows in Edinburgh – some were brilliant, some were good, and some were terrible. I also learned how important reviews are to the performers. It’s a crowded field in Edinburgh and the best way to distinguish yourself is word-of-mouth, and the second best way is critical buzz, or at least a favourable review.

As a sometimes reviewer, I’m going to lay down some very short reviews of the shows I saw in the nine days I was there.

Pappy’s: All Business – The preview was a shambolic affair, but their confidence and energy carried the day. Plus there were plenty of funny bits. 4/5

Cactus – Jonno Katz is a legend on the Canadian fringe scene, and it’s obvious why: honest, engaging, funny, and fearless, this one-man show was thoroughly engaging and imaginative. 5/5

Kingsley and I – Some admittedly hungover comedians tried to figure out to do with their hands because the microphone and PA weren’t working. Some laughs. 3/5

Matthew Highton – An hour long not-very funny ‘surreal’ comedy show about Tom Selleck’s moustache. 2/5

Cannonball – An hour of engaging short-form from some London contemporaries. Plenty of high-points, but a joke about anus-tattooing lets them down. 3/5

Off the Cuff Bingo – Improv and Bingo? Amazing. Unfortunately, not quite as amazing as it could have been. Some bright moments, but still, I wanted more. 2/5

Boy with Tape on his Face – Silent mime stand-up prop comedy? Miles funnier than the premise would suggest. Brilliant. 5/5

Robin Ince Asks Why – Raging liberal comedian with a show full of anecdotes and hilarity. 4/5

Baby Wants Candy – Improvised musical with big belly laughs, great songs, and wall-to-wall balls out performances. Outstanding. 5/5

Life of Si – Two guys with a meta-comedy show about life and their teapot. Not hilarious, but funny and charming, and bonus points for the rap number. 3/5

Borderline Racist – Paul Keransa’s show about what other countries think about their neighbours was a clever concept and his A/V material really brought it all home. 4/5

I Am Woof/Where Have All the Ladies Gone? – Some powerful performances, but the scripts were only OK, and the kebab-eating was unnecessary. 2/5

27 Up – A decent half hour of comedy that managed to also tie in a great gag about the future. Not many huge laughs, but worth the time absolutely. 3/5

Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting – I only caught the second half of this mental female sketch duo from New York. Great commitment and some sharp and raunchy lines. N/A

Suspicious Package – An interactive film-noir where the audience are the performers and the Grassmarket is the scene of some 1920’s smoky intrigue. Awesome. 4/5

Michael Pipe: The Ping-Pong Years – I missed the first half of the show, but showed up in time to catch some engaging details about a big tournament from the aforementioned ping-pong years. N/A

Mary Barrel is Really Good at Things – A self-help seminar from an utterly precocious child. She’d be annoying in real-life, but Mary Barrel is a a fun character to spend some time with. 3/5

Ferris Bueller’s Way Of – A comedy show based on life lessons from Ferris Bueller? Ideal. The conceit was tenuous at points, but full marks for clips from the film. 3/5

A Calculated Risk – Not bad stand-up. Not hilarious, some good laughs involved. Plus I saw it with Chiara, and that I liked. 3/5