Playbill Pick: Amy Webber: No Previous Experience at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Playbill

Playbill Goes Fringe Playbill Pick: Amy Webber: No Previous Experience at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A star is born in this solo show and Fringe debut that puts a hilarious spin on the job hunt.

Amy Webber

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!

As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.

Is there anything more exciting than seeing the birth of a star? That's honestly what watching Amy Webber: No Previous Experience felt like. The show, running at Just the Tonic at Mash House's Just the Attic, is not only Webber's Fringe debut, but her first-ever solo show. That might make you expect some unsteady moments, but No Previous Experience had me cackling uncontrollably from beginning to end.

Webber set herself up for success with a solid concept. "Does anyone here have a job?" she enthusiastically asks the crowd as she takes the stage, before adding, "...for me?" Before long, she's making her CV stand out from the crowd by taking a cue from Elle Woods and turning it into a song. Armed with a keyboard strapped around her neck, Webber hilariously sings about her educational background (a "useless" opera degree), skills (she writes an original song for an audience member's funeral on the spot), and the fact that her dual Spotify and Apple Music subscriptions could make her a great candidate to be a DJ.

That improv-ed song isn't just funny—it's a fantastic introduction into Webber's humor. It's wry and self-deprecating, with a bouncy British lilt that makes even the grimmest confessions sound pricelessly chipper.

As she auditions some potential career paths for us more in-depth, we learn that Webber has been on a long journey to stand out. She got an early taste of that as the sole Brit in a Japanese primary school—Webber's parents spent some of her childhood teaching English in Japan. Unceremoniously returning to England just a few years later, Webber found she was now just one in the crowd.

Since then, she's been searching for her stand-out potential, but results haven't been great. Attempts for a career in opera, pop songwriting, and radio hosting left her empty-handed. But make no mistake—whether she knows it or not, Webber is more than a stand-out at stand-up.

A particular highlight comes as Webber revisits her failed attempt at being a radio host. She uses her magical keyboard to present brief snippets in the style of BBC Radios 1-5, each fully hilarious even to this American with little to no baseline reference for the British radio stations. Webber delightfully sends up talk radio, classical music (that useless opera degree comes in handy after all), and more.

She involves the audience throughout the comedy hour, showing off some great crowd work skills as she asks various attendees about their own jobs—"that's called networking," she eventually proclaims.

And all of this builds to a finale that is quite frankly so genius that I dare not give it away. Suffice it to say, Webber ends her show with a laugh just as as strong as the brilliant sung CV that opens it. It's a divinely constructed comedy hour.

Edinburgh Fringe hosts a lot of comedy. Famous A-listers have no trouble selling out venues on name recognition alone. But Webber is one of dozens of comics at Fringe that are decidedly not headlining quite yet. I learned about her by seeing a preview of her act in Christopher Hall's Self Helpless (also a Playbill Pick) and was so charmed that I decided to catch the whole thing.

There's a unique excitement to seeing truly new talent just because they happened to catch your eye, or because you heard they were great from someone in a queue—it's part of the magic of Fringe. Newcomer Webber has been selling out shows, so I'm hardly the only one that's noticed what she's brought to the festival this year. Based on this truly fabulous Fringe debut, I think we might just see her as an A-list headliner in Edinburgh and beyond before we know it.

Amy Webber: No Previous Experience runs at Just the Tonic at The Mash House, Just the Attic space through August 27.

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