Fringe Comedy

Bridget Christie

The Stand

Five Stars

Mark Steel

Assembly George Square

Five stars

John Hastings

Pleasance Courtyard

Four stars

Marianne Gunn

Bridget Christie is on utterly top form this year - and has almost completely sold out her Fringe run (on Monday 31 August, you may stand a chance). The fact she still plays The Stand at 11am in the morning - a relatively small but credible comedy venue - probably says a lot about her stubbornness. This year's show, A Book for Her, ends with a 10-minute book signing for her female fans (it can also be for Him, if he can read). Endorsed on the cover by Caitlin Moran and having fellow Guardian contributor Mark Lawson queueing meekly at the end of her Press performance, gives an indicator of the gender and political spheres she explores.

Similar in title to her award-winning A Bic For Her, Christie is still "banging on" about Feminism. However, she's turned all self-referential and, really, it's just character comedy/method acting - and as it's proving lucrative, why not? The sarcasm is off the scale and Christie admits that some of her audiences (not Scotland, not North London) take her all too literally and miss the point. Her section on the talented Nigel Farage is absolutely priceless and Jeremy Corbyn does not get off lightly either.

It's talking about race that brings her into the most interesting territory this year with a fairly scathing dissection of Rachel Dolezal's actions and a pointy finger at the audience as to how we all react when racism is mentioned. Feminism is not forgotten, however, and if George Osborne receives any flapjacks in the post, Christie's latest guerrilla campaign is working.

Fellow left-wing comedian Mark Steel can be found up at Assembly George Square. His ticket sales must also be pretty solid, as he has put on some extra late-night shows - a good opportunity to catch one of the most well-crafted and poignant comedy turns on this year's Fringe. Who Do I Think I Am? focuses on identity, as Steel was adopted as a baby, and has found out about his birth parents (no spoilers here).

Having not performed at the Fringe for 19 years, it is clear this is a very personal show for Steel: there are moments when audible gasps came from the audience when the revelations kept coming. Steel's reaction was also very funny when some audience members left early, presumably to head to another show (Steel's show is more than the standard Fringe sub hour length) "Is Lord Lucan not enough for you?" he bellowed in his South London accent. Apparently not.

Warm, likeable and never indulgent, Steel also highlights the level of bureaucracy that surrounded his quest. Reading original documents - convoluted and confusing - it is testament to his strength of character that he got anywhere (apparently finding out anything took years as, basically, he had been offered up - like a spare wheelbarrow - in a North London pub on Elgin Avenue).

His fondness for his adoptive parents and for Gwen and Arthur (who set up the adoption) is clear and he is more on the nurture side of the debate as he explores his own nature. However, some of the parallels he finds with his birth mother and father are fabulous - and it makes for true comedy gold.

Canadian John Hastings can be found in one of the Pleasance Bunker spaces and, from the outset, jokes about his macabre little man cave. Describing himself as someone surrounded by over-achievement, there is a level of self-deprecation being explored and he also shares his experiences of being born with Dyspraxia. Tall and strong-looking, he explains how he defied medical expectations when he was born three months prematurely; though thanks to the medical intervention, his blood is now lethal to other people. A well-crafted show, focusing on his relationship with his estranged parents and how he is dealing with being a godfather himself but, for me, it was never laugh out loud funny, and there were too many Die Hard references that went over my head.

Runs end 31 August for Christie and 30 August for Steel and Hastings.