Review: Ed Byrne – If I'm Honest at Assembly Rooms
3★★★

Irish raconteur and TV regular Ed Byrne bounds onto the stage to thunderous applause in this packed, upmarket venue. The tousled quiff and red lamé jacket make him look unsettlingly like the charismatic lead singer in an 80’s tribute band. Showaddypaddy anyone?

Like his 2017 sell-out show, Spoiler Alert, this hour again focuses on family life. Father to two boys, he feels it’s time to take stock and decide if there’s anything, apart from an apparently dodgy dress sense, that he can pass on to them. The next fifteen minutes are a funny, frenzied blur as he plunges into an imaginary geothermal pool, struts his way round the stage staving off cramp and demonstrates self-loathing with a free-flowing, foul-mouthed rant.

Too many of his gentle meanderings through middle-class, middle-aged life are met with empathetic smiles rather than raucous belly-laughs, however. There’s a tasty pork curry one-liner but the accompanying tale of his expensive, high-end knife-sharpening kit doesn’t quite cut it.

He’s back on best, self-deprecating form with an insight into the intrusive thoughts that have plagued him throughout his life. A memory of how these thoughts might well  have ended his first brush with showbiz as an altar boy is priceless and includes a pay-off that rings all the right bells. An explanation of why he’s never more than one Tweet away from sabotaging his career keeps up the momentum.

A pop at Men’s Rights Activists and their non-acceptance of female superheroes is also on-the-money. The topic may be hot but Ed’s chosen film references seem dated. Superman, Ghostbusters and Mad Max: Fury Road are mentioned but a shout-out to Wonder Woman or even the new Captain Marvel would have made this section feel more hip and less hip replacement.

Overall, this was a supremely confident performance for a Fringe favourite. Like the impressive chandelier in the venue, some of his material could just do with a light dusting.

Ed Byrne: If I’m Honest, Assembly Rooms, 1-25 Aug, 9pm

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