Got into my first Edinburgh conversation with acts at last night's gig and we started listing what we thought were the most influential Edinburgh Fringe Shows ever. Here are a few we came up with, what would be on your list?
(in no particular order):
Dave Gorman - Reasons To Be Cheerful (1998). Began the tradition of Doing A Dave Gorman, ie setting yourself a novel task or project, then describing it for an hour on stage, ideally with slides, video, and props. Or Hostages To Fortune as many have discovered to their cost. (See also Simon Munnery)
Harry Hill (1992) - The Perrier Newcomer category was created (allegedly) so Harry Hill could win something that year.
Peter Buckley Hill's Free Shows (since 1996?) - Began what has now become a proud tradition of the free show.
Cambridge Footlights (1981) - First winners of the Perrier. Put the competition on the map while launching Fry, Laurie, Thompson & Slattery, then getting on the telly and setting template for godawful sketch shows ever since. (See also Cambridge Footlights 1962, 63, 84, and random others)
Writers Inc (1982) - Established tradition of the Perrier being won by people who you SO don't remember having existed you're sure someone's been screwing around with the Wikipedia page. (See also The Brass Band, Avner The Eccentric, Lano & Woodley)
Arthur Smith's Guided Tour (80s onwards?) - An early combination of street theatre, situationism and comedy travelogue which started at midnight and probably spawned more Ghost Tours than it has comedy imitators. Used to end with Chris Lynam letting a firework off out of his arse. This and Arthur Smith's Arturart exhibition undoubtedly influenced site-specific works like Mark Watson's Hotel (09).
Any other suggestions?
PS: Beyond The Fringe wasn't a Fringe show.
PPS: Thinking about it, there's more to the Fringe than just comedy shows, sorry.