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Edinburgh up-and-comers

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Off to the Edinburgh Festival this year? Fancy discovering some exciting, new comic talent? Able to follow basic written instructions?

If you answered 'yes' to all the above questions, then this is your lucky day. ShortList scribe and stand-up comedian James Gill is on hand to select five of the finest dark horses at the 2011 Fringe...

1) Chastity Butterworth and the Spanish Hamster

19.50; Meadow Bar; 4-28 August

The prim, proper and occasionally foulmouthed Butterworth is the alter-ego of actress and Funny Women 2010 winner Gemma Whelan (catch her in the next series of Game Of Thrones, following smaller roles in The Wolfman and Gulliver’s Travels). Combining winning one-liners with charm and unexpected vulgarity, Butterworth is adored by both audiences and fellow comedians alike. Hopefully stand-up comedy won’t lose her to the world of acting completely. That said, not many comedians can say they’ve eaten biscuits with Sir Anthony Hopkins…

2) Horse and Louis: Top Trumpin'! (pictured)

14.45–15.45; Espionage; 5-28 August

Two lovelier men you could not wish to meet but, by jingo, you don’t want to follow them on stage, such is their ability to tear the roof off any venue. With Horse (Nick Phillips) the loveable, buffoonish everyman and Louis (Louis Fonseca) the good-looking brains of the operation, their songs and sketches have them knocking on the door of the big time. Their most-famous song to date, <Feminine Side>, is a must-watch on YouTube. Given guitars and facial hair are involved, they’ve inevitably been compared to Flight Of The Conchords. Like the Conchords, they’re going places.

3) Wit-Tank

18.15; The Caves 253, Cowgate, EH1 1LG; 4-28 August

Naz Osmanoglu, Kieran Boyd and Mark-Cooper Jones might only be in their mid-twenties, but are already relative veterans of Edinburgh, having been performing at the Festival to packed houses and much acclaim since 2005. The comedy scene is teeming with up-and-coming sketch troupes, but the always inventive, always original Wit-Tank are arguably the pick of the bunch. Osmanoglu’s solo show, 1000% Awesome, is also a must-see.

4) Infectious

20.40; The Voodoo Rooms; 19a West Register Street; Edinburgh, EH2 2AA; 6-27 August

Guy Manners and Kelly Kingham may not be that young, but they’re certainly up and coming, with both men impressing all over Britain this past 18 months. Kingham’s deceptively dark flights of fancy are nicely off-set by Manners’ upbeat anecdotes about, among other things, having a gay father and brother. And then there’s also Manners’ deliberately un-PC alter-ego Bobby Stardust – a shamelessly nostalgic, gleefully filthy love letter to Seventies comedians – to up the gag quotient. Two immensely likeable and talented men.

5) John Kearns’ Dinner Party

16.15; Whistlebinkies; 5-29 August

If you see one show by an unknown this year, please see one of mine. However, if you see two, then watch Pat Cahill, here supporting the clever and charismatic John Kearns. Cahill has been something of an awards magnet in 2011 and it’s his sheer originality – a combination of gags, wordplay, spoken word to backing tracks and more – that makes him stand out from the crowd. With so many comedians putting self-promotion before content, Cahill – quiet, unassuming, modest, irritatingly talented – is a welcome breath of fresh air. He’s even handsome. What a complete and utter git.

James Gill (Facebook.com/JamesGillComedy) is appearing in two shows from 13-26 August. Out – But Not On Good Behaviour, with Jonathan Bentata, Dylan Bray and James Gill. The Jazz Bar, 17.30-18.30. And North vs South, with Ben Morgan and James Gill. Jekyll & Hyde, 22.35-23.35.

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