The Vagenda

Brilliant Comedians


…oh yeah, they also happen to be women.

This year we had the biggest Fringe Festival to date. There were more university choirs, circus acts and funny women. We’ve scoured the streets to bring you some of the best underground female comedians who rocked the Fringe this year. They’ll stick their hands up animals, perm their hair and trip on invisible objects to make you piss yourselves, and that’s why we love them.

Kate Smurthwaite


No one does the Fringe Festival quite like Kate Smurthwaite. At the fringe, you could witness her barbed humour and liberal punches  every day at each of her three shows. The News at Kate: Leftie Cock Womble took events of the past year and crammed it into an hour of leftist laughs. Later came The Evolution Will Be Televised, an interactive comedy show about evolution. At midnight, she did Late with Kate, which featured other comedians performing the Fringe. Smurthwaite may be a familiar face to you, having appeared on television debates such as Question Time promoting women’s rights. Go to her website and follow her twitter for more laughs and to keep a lookout for upcoming shows.

Nina Conti


I was first introduced to British ventriloquism during a drunken late night at a friend’s flat. We started with Keith and Orville, swerved over to Spit the Dog and finally landed on Nina Conti. Her characters and gags continue this great tradition with body-switching and (of course) hands up butts. Nina’s charm comes from her light giggles and soft voice, which is hilarious when faced with her foul-mouthed and demanding characters. Conti’s self-aware gags and audience participation pushes the genre while keeping familiar tropes alive. Her two-week run at the Fringe has ended, but you can catch her shows on her website.
Twitter: @ninaconti

Rosie Wilby


Flannel and Doc Martens still in your closet? Sleater-Kinney and bad perms all over your yearbook? Then think of Rosie Wilby’s Nineties Women as the class reunion you’ve been dreaming of. Rosie interviewed all the women who wrote with her in the nineties for York University feminist newspaper “Matrix.” She created a powerful flashback to sincere student protests, cringe-worthy crushes and the eternal struggle of reconciling feminist principles with everyday (hedonistic, student) life. It was all a bit too familiar and just too good.

Twitter: @Rosiewilby

15% of the Seagull


This humorous take on small-budget theatre has been making the rounds since being well received at the 2012 Brighton Fringe. “15% of The Seagull” finds two actresses in a bit of a dilemma – Liberty knows she was born to play Nina in The Seagull while Cheryl is just killing time between shifts at the chip shop. While the play delves into the complications of creating a production, the actresses are sharply humorous and innovative with their sparse set and props. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for future London dates.

Other Women to Check Out:

While these women didn’t make the trek all the way up to Edinburgh, they are worth a look for all humour-seeking feminists.

Ada Campe


Ada Campe’s humor is almost as big as her makeup. Campe’s shows are part comedy, part magic. The combination of adult humor with physical comedy and stuff are all stuffed into a bedazzled, coiffed and crazy character. Ada Campe is the creation of Naomi Paxton, talented actress and feminist activist.

Twitter: @AdaCampe

Grace Helbig


Comedian Grace Helbig is a fixture of the Youtube community. Her videos vary from the hilarious anecdotes to the terrifying realities of being a woman in the entertainment business. Grace’s videos provide an intimate look into the life of a comedian, often just a single camera on her face as she recounts stories from her personal life and career. Grace’s Youtube videos are a great insight into a female comedian’s life and also has collaborations with other Youtube stars.


Okay, this one is cheating a bit. Stand Up For Women, an amazing female comedy and campaigning collective, got together with Object, Zero Tolerance and Rape Crisis Scotland to create “RapeIsNotFunny…are rape jokes?” The petition encourages comedians and audience members at the Fringe Festival to really uncover what about a rape joke is “funny” – basically (and I can’t believe I have to say this) don’t trivialize rape or make a joke at the expense of victims. It’s an important message for all comedy lovers. Plus, it’s supported by comedy bigwigs like Jenny Eclair, Josie Long, James Mullinger, Peter Egan and Kate Smurthwaite. Stand Up For Women does also do proper comedy, so make sure to check out their website as well.

- Christina Li

Is there someone we missed? If so, let us know in the comments. 

2 thoughts on “Brilliant Comedians

  1. Sending the love right back to you. Also to say Ms Ada Campe actually did make it to Edinburgh for just a couple of days and took the roof off (of course) at Late With Kate one night. Rosie was also a big hit there xx

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