Elis James, 31 (is in awe of Les Dennis)

"When you see Leonardo Da Vinci paintings you do think to yourself, 'It's difficult to describe what I do as art.' Very few people are going to be listening to recordings of my Edinburgh show in 500 years."

Les Dennis, 58 (used to work with Russ Abbot)

"I think all comics are scared. You have to be."

Brendon Burns, 41 (loud, sweary Aussie)

"During Edinburgh I'm very capable. But I think my wife would tell you for the rest of the year I'm a mess."

Andrew O'Neill, 32 (likes metal and/or dressing up in girls' clothes)

"I love spending a month a year in Edinburgh. I love doing shows to a comedy-literate crowd. It's the reward for doing the comedy circuit the rest of the year."

The Ginge, The Geordie And The Geek: Graeme Rooney, 29, Paul Charlton, 30, and Kevin O'Loughlin, 32 (one of them has a "man crush" on Andrew Maxwell)

"A Scottish audience, if they pay their money and they like it, they'll show it. They'll laugh. Or not laugh. In London they'll be a bit polite. In Scotland they'll be like, 'Is that it?'"

Daniel Sloss, 21 (sickeningly young)

"I've realised quite recently that all my opinions are probably wrong and they don't matter. Don't have an opinion, have fun."

Pete Firman, 32 (a post-modern Tommy Cooper)

"You can never recapture that first time - unless I reinvent myself as a singer and dancer."

Stephen Carlin, 36 (facial hair wearer originally from Airdrie)

"If I start talking about home furnishings or property prices on stage you have permission to shoot me."

Vikki Stone 27 (has sung backing vocals for Reg Dwight)

"You don't meet Elton for ages. In rehearsals you have a stand-in right up until the last second."

Mark Watson 32 (tall, glasses, presents comedy sports shows)

"If I tried not to come up for the Fringe one year, my body would automatically make its way there while I slept."

Lucy Porter, 39 (ironic saucepot)

"I remember every detail of every Edinburgh. It's the most alive I feel all year. There were a couple of years in the late 1990s where I did get a bit too drunk. There are some hazy moments from those years."

Andrew Maxwell, 38 (Hibs fan)

"It strikes me as deeply unnecessary to share in new media what you've just eaten. I don't need to know."

Danielle Ward, 30 (plays in an indie band but you probably won't have heard of them)

"The last show I did was a play called Gutted and the second night – Black Saturday, as we refer to it – everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It ended up with someone screaming at our director in the bar and lots of people crying. I wasn't crying. I was pulling the troops together."


Do you remember the first time?

Les Dennis: "It was in 2007. For me, as an old-school comedian, I was really scared. I thought I was going into comedy Mordor with all these young lions, these guys and girls who were cutting-edge comedians. But I loved it and felt a great welcome and respect."

Mark Watson: "Yes. The year 2000. I was in a student play which I'd also written and directed. We had an average of about nine people a night, mostly our friends and relations."

Brendon Burns: "It was 1996. I didn't have a promoter. I was in the corner of a Firkin pub. The only thing separating me from the bar was a blanket. I had no technician. The sound system exploded every time I yelled and I had to walk to the back of the room and reset it. So I'm intolerant of anyone who gets everything done for them on their first go."

Do you remember the worst time?

Andrew O'Neill: "Worst was when I did a show called Futuristic Death Ninja 9000. The show didn't go well, my wife got very ill and a very well-known comic who will remain Russell Howard slagged me off on his radio show over a misunderstanding. My wife spent the night in hospital so I had no flyering and the next day there were four people in the audience. And one of them was a reviewer. It was a car crash."

The Ginge, The Geordie And The Geek: "Probably when the fish died. In last year's show we had a goldfish on stage and Paul would have a wee chat with it. Paul was talking to it and the fish was remarkably still. When we came off stage it slowly sunk to the bottom and turned on its side."

Elis James: "In 2008 it rained every day all day. I remember it rained so heavily the sleeves of my cardigan were down to my knees. The show manager said, 'You need to take your clothes off or you're going to get hypothermia.' So I sat in the dressing room in my wet pants before going on, thinking, 'Is it worth this? We've only sold 33 tickets. The room holds 185 people.'"

Andrew Maxwell: "Even when you're coming up and playing to half-empty rooms and it's rainy and it's late and you're battling drunks and you're getting ignored by reviewers, you're young, you're single, you're at the Edinburgh Festival for a month and you're living in a flatshare with two or three other maniacs. They're some of the best times of your life. I don't think I've ever had a bad time. If I didn't like it I wouldn't go back to it."

How do you survive a month in Edinburgh?

Stephen Carlin: "By not seeing my family too much. They lead me astray. It's far easier to cut down on the drinking when I'm not around them. They're kind of old school. Hardcore. I'm a bit more metropolitan. I stop after four pints."

Vikki Stone: "Because I sing I'm on my best behaviour. I don't even set foot in the bar. Going home, inhaling steam, all the boring stuff. It's work time. It saddens me because there are parties everywhere."

Andrew Maxwell: "You have to enjoy it. You have to have fun. It doesn't have to be alcohol-based fun, although, my god, the whole thing is oddly lubed by that. I support Hibs so I go and see them. Me and Jason Byrne go and play pitch-and-putt on the Meadows. At least once or twice a bunch of comics will climb Arthur's Seat with a hangover."

Which would you sacrifice first – Sex, drugs or rock 'n' roll?

Pete Firman: "I'd get rid of the drugs first. That's no way to go. I'd keep the sex and rock 'n' roll. But not at the same time."

Who was the first person to make you laugh?

Lucy Porter: "Probably Dave Allen. As a child I used to pretend to be Dave Allen, sitting on a stool with a glass of whisky and a fag, which my parents thought was hilarious. These days it would have Social Services straight round."

Les Dennis: "Ken Dodd at the Royal Court in Liverpool. I was probably about six or seven and I can still remember the show vividly. He shot a gun into the flies and a massive big prop cow fell to the stage. That was it for me – 'Theatre is brilliant!'"

Danielle Ward: "Cannon and Ball. The Boys In Blue was my favourite film when I was little. I had the braces and everything."

Brendon Burns: "A black American comedian. I was only nine years of age. My parents had snuck me in through the back room of this place in Dallas and then regretted it immediately because he was filthy. It was Dallas, an all-white room, and his opening line to his bandleader was, 'Does your daddy know you work for a n*****? It'd kill him.' The whole room was shocked. At nine I remember the release of the laugh and thinking, 'That's what I want to do with my life.'"

Elis James: "My dad was more open to breaking the rules than other dads. He was quite open to drawing the curtains and saying, 'There's a ghost and we need to find him,' and five minutes later someone has banged their head and he's in A&E and he's phoning to apologise to someone's mother."

Have you ever said 'I love you' and not meant it?

Vikki Stone: "Probably. I say it all the time to my dog when he's just chewed the handle of my Lulu Guinness handbag."

Is life essentially comic or tragic?

Graeme Rooney (The Ginge): "For me it's comic. I love life."

Kevin O'Loughlin (The Geek): "I'm a pessimist. Whenever the phone goes I'm always expecting someone to say, 'Kevin, the s*** has hit the fan.'"

Paul Charlton (The Geordie): "Life is neither tragic nor comic – it's just f****** frustrating. I'm like a Victor Meldrew."

When did you last break the law?

Danielle Ward: "I don't think I ever have. That's really boring, isn't it?"

What scares you?

Daniel Sloss: "I have very weird phobias. I hate moths, I can't touch velvet and I can't touch frosted glass."

Lucy Porter: "Not much now. My relationship with pain has changed enormously since childbirth [Porter has two children with her husband, the actor Justin Edwards]."

Andrew O'Neill: "Mortality - That's not a very funny answer."

Vikki Stone: "Zombies. Genuinely. I couldn't sleep for six weeks after watching 28 Days Later. It was horrid."

Brendon Burns: "Swans, brown clothes, big cities, bad air, water you can't drink from a tap, hairplugs and bitterness."

Mark Watson: "Being struck by lightning. I'm not joking. It's beyond a phobia."

Stephen Carlin: "I don't really like crowds - but I'd like them at my show. Big ones."

Danielle Ward: "Sharks and flying. Flying sharks would be even worse."

Pete Firman: "Not being able to write an hour's material for Edinburgh. And snakes."

*Brendon Burns Home Stretch Baby!, Pleasance – King Dome, 10pm, until Aug 26

* Stephen Carlin Pandas Vs Penguins, Pleasance Courtyard – Hut, 6pm, until Aug 27 (except Aug 8 &14)

* Les Dennis Jigsy, The Assembly Rooms – The Ballroom, 2.50pm, until Aug 26 (except Aug 13)

* Pete Firman Hoodwinker, Pleasance Courtyard – Beyond, 9.10pm, until Aug 26

* Elis James Speaking As A Mother, Pleasance Courtyard – Baby Grand, 7pm, until Aug 26 (except Aug 14)

* The Ginge, The Geordie & The Geek Just The Tonic – The Big Room, 4.45pm, 7.45pm until Aug 26 (except Aug 14)

* Andrew Maxwell That's The Spirit, Assembly George Square, 9.05pm, until Aug 27 (except Aug 13)

* Andrew O'Neill Is Easily Distracted, Pleasance Courtyard – Baby Grand, 10.45pm, until August 27 (except Aug 8 & 14). Andrew O'Neill And Marc Burrows Do Music And Comedy And Hideous Murders, The Canons' Gait, 7.15pm until August 26 (except Aug 13)

* Lucy Porter People Person, The Stand One, 5.15pm, until Aug 26 (except Aug 13 & 20)

* Daniel Sloss The Show, Lomond Theatre, 6.30pm, until August 26 (except August 22). Also Extra Shows, Lomond Theatre, 8pm, Aug 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25

* Vikki Stone Hot Mess, Underbelly, 8.10pm, until Aug 26 (except Aug 14)

* Danielle Ward Speakeasy, Pleasance – 10 Dome, 8.20pm, Saturday, Mondays and Wednesdays until Aug 27 (except Aug 7). Also, Playdead, Pleasance – 10 Dome, 8.20pm, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays until Aug 27 (except Aug 7)

* Mark Watson The Information, Assembly George Square, 7.40pm, until Aug 27 (except Aug 13 & 20). Also, Mark Watson's Edinboroympics, Pleasance Courtyard – Beyond, 11pm, (Aug 15, 16 and 18-21)