There was an English man, an Irish man and a Scottish  man in the Bedford pub in Balham. The English man turns to the others and says so what brings you down here then? The Irish man replies with a story about how he first travelled  to New York to stay with relatives and spent some time working on Wall Street before deciding to make his millions in London, as it was much closer to his family back home. The Scottish man then responds, talking about how he couldn’t possibly vote for Scottish Independence without experiencing wee bit of London first hand. The English man says oh that’s all very interesting but I was referring to which comedians brought you to watch the Balham Free Fringe. (True story, we just made it up: Ed)

Before you say anything we will not make any further attempts to make any jokes or make any political references, though we do know one thing for sure, Balham will be still in the UK next year even though there are some who still fear of going south of the river.

We went to Balham Free Fringe last year not knowing what to expect and we will go again this year with the same mindset.  Sean Lock refers to the few days in June as “The true spirit of the Fringe” and it  returns to The Bedford for its fourth consecutive year, offering over 40 hours of free comedy, theatre and music across three stages.

From Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd June, The Bedford will host Edinburgh Fringe preview shows from Phill Jupitus, Wil Hodgson, Lucy Porter, Stephen Carlin, Pippa Evans, Carey Marx, Tiernan Douieb, Chris Coltrane, Kate Smurthwaite, John-Luke Roberts, Joe Rowntree and many more.

That’s some line up, but like we said don’t go expecting finished polished shows. Last year one of the comedians decided to scrap his entire set on the day and wrote a new one on the way to the Bedford, it was a brave move and one that in the most part paid off, even though everyone turned up expecting one topic and getting another. If you go with an open mind you can expect the unexpected and possibly stumble across the next big thing before a hell of a lot of other people.

We’ve never had the chance to experience Edinburgh Fringe so we can’t really compare it, but Peter Buckley Hill, Founder of PBH’s Free Fringe organisation has this to say:

“The Free Fringe is now the biggest single organisation putting on shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.  In 2013 we had 7905 performances of 465 shows on 50 stages in 38 venues over the 23 days of the Edinburgh Fringe, all free of charge to the public.
Famous names play with us, as well as not-so-famous names.  In Edinburgh, you can choose between following the stars of today or trying to spot the stars of tomorrow.  Most comedians who have broken big in the last five years have played the Free Fringe at some point.  And, of course, we don’t only have Comedy; we have Cabaret, Spoken Word, Theatre, Music, Science and Rationalism and all sorts.

London shouldn’t be left out.  If you can’t make it to Edinburgh, come to Balham.  Balham will still be in the UK next year as far as we know.  And we’ll be previewing as many of our Edinburgh shows as we can cram in to the Balham Free Fringe weekend.”

We wholeheartedly recommend it and for full details of shows and times for the Balham Free Fringe get over to their website before we tell another joke: www.balhamfreefringe.com