New Amnesty comedy podcast from Edinburgh Festival stars Russell Brand, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Rob Rouse and Fred Macaulay

Amnesty International today launched the first of a series of comedy podcasts from the Edinburgh Festival, featuring interviews with Edinburgh favourite Fred Macaulay, top comics Rob Rouse and Danielle Ward and gems from the Amnesty comedy archives from Russell Brand, John Cleese and Michael Palin.

Today’s is the first of a series of eight Amnesty International Comedy Podcasts hosted by The Guardian, which can be downloaded for free from guardian.co.uk

Rob Rouse, who is captaining the comedians team in the ‘Comics v Critics’ Football match at the Edinburgh Festival this year, lets Amnesty in on some of his training-ground secrets:

“Hair ruffling and bottom patting, there'll be a lot of that….and there'll be no training. I'll be encouraging my players to smoke and drink on the pitch.

“We'll just be wearing stockings and football boots. It intimidates the enemy. You'd think twice about going in hard on a man who's so confident in his footballing prowess that he's not wearing a kit. Especially if he's smoking.

“That's what the modern game's all about - you don't get ahead unless you've got a fully-aroused, naked team, save for a pair of stockings and, er... boots.”

After some tackles that breached international human rights standards in previous clashes, Amnesty International has agreed to referee this year’s football match at Meadowbank Stadium on Sunday 15 August, which Amnesty is organising with Fest Magazine.

Amnesty’s involvement with the world’s largest arts festival is based on the celebration of freedom of expression and fighting for the rights of people whose free speech is denied. This year the organisation is campaigning for Zarganar, Burma’s top comedian, who is currently serving a 35-year jail sentence for speaking out against the government. Amnesty will be out on Edinburgh’s streets this year asking festival-goers to take their own stand for freedom of expression, in solidarity with the people of Burma, by joining its photo petition or taking action. Act now br />
Fred Macaulay tells the Amnesty podcast that freedom of expression is still treasured by comedians in the UK:

"I think the stage is the last bastion of free speech in this country.

"We should be entitled to free speech onstage and if it ruffles a few feathers, so much the better... you certainly shouldn't be persecuted for it."

Fred will be joined by Adam Hills to compere Amnesty’s famed Stand Up For Freedom comedy show at the festival this year, featuring John Bishop, Mark Watson, 2009 award-winner Tim Key, Josie Long, Dan Antopolski and Danielle Ward. The show is at 10pm on Thursday 19 August at Venue 150, the EICC.

Danielle Ward tells the Amnesty podcast her top tip for surviving the festival:

"Put Vaseline on your nipples and break in your shoes…that's my top tip"

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