It’s not quite Scot free but grab a Fringe binge bargain at previews

Caimh McDonnell.
Caimh McDonnell.
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IT’S a long road to Edinburgh and for some it begins in South Yorkshire next week as a series of festival previews kick off.

At the heart of the comedy tasters is the Last Laugh Comedy Club which has nearly 20 years of luring Edinburgh previews to Sheffield.

“Over the last seven years we have had acts who have gone on to critical acclaim and nomination for the most prestigious of awards,” says Jools, who will host shows at The Lescar each Thursday in July and the first Thursday in August.

The tittering tirade begins next week with Andrew Lawrence, a star of Live At The Apollo, now a regular on Channel 4’s Stand Up For The Week.

A former double Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee for his “kamikaze philosophies” and an “almost Victorian blend of rage and good grammar”, he is joined by Stu Goldsmith with stand-up comedy “for anyone who used to have principles”.

The following Thursday brings preachers son Markus Birdman - “an atheist and dreamer, wonders where’s God when you actually need him” - and Andrew Bird with his Global Village Fete routine.

On July 19 Chris Martin will explain how to wind up squirrels, show techniques to confuse a pervert and why not liking cheese can lead to violent abuse.

Irish comic Caimh McDonnell - Bafta nominee and writer on Sarah Millican’s TV show - gives a whistle-stop tour of his own social ineptitudes.

Chris Ramsey returns on July 26 with his Feeling Lucky tour.

The Geordie is a familiar face on Celebrity Juice, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Russell Howard’s Good News and Argumental and is soon to be seen in the lead role of new BBC Two sitcom Hebburn.

TV regular and old friend of Last Laugh, Tom Stade joins the bill while August 2 sees Carl Hutchinson wrap up the previews with Acceptable.

Carl is taking his début solo fringe to Edinburgh having become a regular at the Last Laugh. He started open spotting three years ago and has since played all the major comedy clubs in the UK as Magners Comedian of the Year and So You Think You’re Funny? finalist. Here he tries to make sense of the world he feels isolated from.

Shows start at 8.30pm. Tickets are £8 via wegottickets.com/sheffieldcomedy

Not to be outdone, new kid on the chortle block Tickled Rib has its own series of Fringe samplers, at The Lantern Theatre.

They start next Thursday with Toby Hadoke with his My Stepson Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver show – follow-up to his Sony Gold Award-nominated Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf. Sharing the Nether Edge stage will be Dave Longley with My Favourite Things.

Andrew Lawrence is also there on July 12 with award-winning psychic comedian Peter Antoniou while a week later Peacock and Gamble take their Don’t Even Want To Be On Telly Anyway show to Kenwood Park Road.

Comedy nice boys Ray and Ed return with an hour of fun and idiocy with back up from the excellent Dan Nightingale.

Arguably one of British stand-ups hidden gems, his The 11 ½ Ill-Conceived Edinburgh Shows Of Dan Nightingale is a fractured insight into the brilliance/idiocy of a frustrated comic.

Promoter Simon Gunnell adds: “If anyone is thinking of going to Edinburgh this year for the festival don’t bother as the best shows are coming to Sheffield beforehand.”

Shows start at 8.30. Tickets are £8 from tickets.lanterntheatre.org.uk/shows/show_menu.php or 0114 2551776.