LAST week, I came to the sobering realisation that this is my twenty-second successive year performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, although I am not sure how appropriate it is to use the word “sobering” when describing Edinburgh in August.

I turned sixty at the start of the year. One of the few advantages of achieving this age, aside from its sheer novelty in certain parts of Scotland, is that I can now travel the length and breadth of our country by bus at no financial cost. So I decided to take advantage of my free bus pass to embark on a three-month tour of the cities and small towns of Scotland in search of the quirks that make up our nation’s psyche, and to make an account of that trip into this year’s Fringe show. One trait that I found, both on this trip and in my twenty-five years of performing stand-up, is that we love to laugh at ourselves.

A more surprising discovery I made on my travels was how much people in the more far-flung parts of the nation looked forward to their annual trip to the Fringe.

Edinburgh locals are often heard to complain that their city is colonised by Londoners for the duration of August, and the city is certainly full to bursting with comedians, agents, publicists and TV talent scouts from down south.

However, statistics still show that a huge proportion of tickets sold annually at the Fringe are bought by people from Scotland. As well as Edinburgh residents, audience numbers are swelled, particularly at weekends, by day-trippers from Glasgow, Fife, Dundee and further afield.

In previous years, there has not been a great deal of Scottish comedy on offer, other than at The Stand and The Gilded Balloon. However, 2016 is a bumper year for Scottish stand-up shows. With the opening of the Monkey Barrel on Blair Street, with Deid Sheep producing shows at Woodland Creatures on Leith Walk and with the continuing success of the Scottish Comedy Festival at The Beehive, Scotland’s presence at its own comedy trade fair has never been greater than it is this year. Here is a small sample of some must-see Scottish shows.

Gilded Balloon, Teviot Square, 8.45 pm. Until Sunday 28th
Mark Nelson won the award for Best Headliner for the second year running at this year’s Scottish Comedy awards, and the accolade was richly merited. Nelson is quite simply one of the finest live stand-ups currently performing in the UK. His gleefully edgy wit is a joy to watch.

Scottish Comedy Festival @ The Beehive, Grassmarket, 7.45pm. Until Monday 29th
Raymond Mearns is a powerhouse of a comedian, and a genuine force of nature. As an exceptional skilled improviser, he can riff on virtually any subject, such is his vast encyclopaedic knowledge. In turn both bombastic and self-deprecating, an hour in the company of Mearns is not an experience to be forgotten overnight.

The Stand Comedy Club, York Place, 7pm. Until Sunday 28th
The host of Breaking The News on Radio Scotland, and of his own breakfast show on Capital FM, Des Clarke is one of the most ubiquitous comedy faces in Scotland. His rapid-fire style has mass appeal, but his material has real substance. This show will entertain audiences of all ages.

The Stand Comedy Club (Stand 5), 7.30pm. Until Sunday 28th.
I am also appearing with Mark Nelson, Keir McAllister and Stuart Murphy in Topical Storm at Stand 6 until Sunday 28th at 5.20pm.

My alter-ego Bob Doolally will be at Stand 3 on Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd at 8.35pm.

Tickets from or at