Review by Lucy Holz
Scoring a large venue at the Edinburgh Fringe can be hard to do. It’s a huge festival with fierce competition, but it’s a contest where Ed Byrne comes out on top. Tonight he’s playing a sold out Saturday night show in the Assembly Rooms.
There is a notice for trigger warnings outside the venue which makes me nervous, can we expect the kind of offensive tone deaf material Jimmy Carr shops around? On the contrary, Ed Byrne’s show is dark but deeply empathetic and most importantly, absolutely hilarious.
Revolving around the tragic death of his younger brother, Ed Byrne begins by talking about the little tragedies in his life, before revealing to us the theme for the evening. Perhaps not something you would immediately think to write standup about, but it turns out to a seasoned comedian, anything can be made funny if enough time has passed.
Using a hands free mic, Byrne has full control of the stage, roaming from one side to the other as he flits from one tangent to the next. Despite some tech hiccups and forgetting a small portion of his material only to be reminded by the projector, this show is practically flawless.
Traversing unfamiliar territory with this show, Byrne talks about his decision to turn away from parenting material. Having never seen one of his previous shows I would never have known this was out of his comfort zone, with joke after joke landing in just the right spot.
Proving he is so much more than a Mock the Week regular, Byrne’s show is energetic, moving and the funniest thing I’ve seen at the festival so far. The use of tech adds dynamism to his act without overpowering his classic storytelling style.
Touching on very sombre themes of death, familial estrangement and covid denial, this act could easily become too heavy for a standup show. However, Byrne adds a sprinkling of just enough self deprecation to keep the material light and to keep us laughing.
If you’ve seen one too many experimental absurdist improvised rock operas this Edinburgh Fringe and are craving some multifaceted standup at its best, go and buy a ticket to Ed Byrne.