5 Celebrities Made Famous From The Edinburgh Fringe


The Fringe has a wide variety of diverse acts, ranging from comedy, music, theatre and magic shows. Audiences often enjoy wandering into obscure shows, unsure of what the performers plan to demonstrate. Next time you watch a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, you may want to consider these artists may be on the brink of their big break. Many celebrities found their humble beginnings of success, at the Edinburgh Fringe, and we suspect several more to come will also. Here are 5 celebrities you may not have expected that found their fame performing at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Graham Norton

Graham Norton is known and loved for his outrageous talk show and comedic persona, but many don’t realise he found fame at the Edinburgh Fringe as a drag queen.

In 1991, he played an Irish Mother Teresa as part of the show Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Grand Farewell Tour. Performing at the Pleasance, Graham Norton caused quite a stir with his portrayal of Mother Teresa, and the Scottish Television’s Religious Affairs department conducted an investigation into the character. This caused Norton to make headlines, and he was first debuted in the press for his outrageousness.

Norton returned to the Edinburgh Fringe two years later, with a show called The Karen Carpenter Bar and Grill, which was a huge success. This caused him to enter more prominent TV roles, and his career blasted from there.

Russell Brand

Known for his controversial remarks and jokes, Russell Brand is a huge celebrity on our televisions today. This celebrity also found his feet at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2000 when he made his debut in the stand-up show Pablo Diablo’s Cryptic Triptych. This show became infamous for its chaotic energy, noted for Brand throwing a microphone stand at the audience, having a glass thrown at him and inciting violence within the show. Ultimately Brand was thrown out of his own show, however, it got people talking about the outrageous performance.
Brand decided to return to the Fringe in 2004 with a very different show called Better Now, where he discussed his experience with recovering from addiction. This side of Brand was loved by the audience and fuelled his rise into stardom. Still known and loved for his outrageousness and honest accountability, Brand’s performances are true testaments to his success.

Noel Fielding

A hilarious and popular comedian, actor and talk show personality, Noel Fielding’s obscure humour made its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1992.

Performing as a stand-up comedian, Fielding won second place in the Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award, having him noticed and loved by audiences. This success had him signed by his management company and set off his journey as a well-known comedian.

He returned to the fringe in 1998 with his show The Mighty Boosh, which in true Fielding Fashion won several awards across multiple media platforms. Fans loved Fielding’s obscure and unique performances, and the show ended up being adapted as a much-loved TV series that ran for years.

This led Fielding into major acting and television roles, and his loved style of comedy is as consistent and appreciated as it was at the Fringe in 1992.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams was arguably one of Hollywood’s most loved stars, and he also performed and found great success at the Edinburgh Fringe. First attending in 1971 with his theatre company, Williams performed the Wild West version of The Taming of the Shrew at the Viewforth Centre.

Robin William’s role of Tranio shone through, and gained mass attention from audiences and signing agents. The show won awards for its incredible success and even gave a special performance for Princess Margaret per her request.

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly is known for being one of Scotland’s biggest comedians, a household name loved by the nation.

Connolly debuted at the Fringe in 1972 with his show called The Great Northern Welly Boot Show, a parody of the Upper Clyde shipbuilders. The show’s fliers misprinted the time of the performance, and the audience turned up an hour and a half early. Billy Connolly is remembered for jumping on stage and entertaining the crowd with an impromptu performance on his banjo, singing funny folk songs to keep the audience entertained.

From there, Billy Connolly was well loved and remembered and has made several successful returns to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival ever since.