Review: Liam Withnail: Homeboy at Monkey Barrel 

The first time I visited Edinburgh’s Harry Potter themed escape room, I spent the whole time plotting how I would master the wizardry hell hole.

Fast forward a couple of months to sitting down in Homeboy. The same room is disguised as a comedy club, yet as the hour drew to a close, there was no overwhelming desire to run out, kick the non-copyright version of Voldemort in the face and down the nearest butter beer.

Liam Withnail’s show is a hot ticket this year and it’s largely down to the power of word of mouth (a nomination for the Amused Moose comedy award didn’t hurt either). Immediately lowering expectations from the start, the comedian admits that nothing’s really happened to him recently, unlike previous years when he’s been able to focus the hour on visa-inspired marriage or going sober.

This apparent lack of anything happening is the magic potion which makes the hour so enthralling, as his focus instead points to the potential pothole of white male privilege. Without giving too much away, Withnail basically speaks for everyone in the audience, sharing his guilty cynicism about a difficult but well covered topic at the Festival, as well as inciting a desire for change. Going full Jekyll and Hyde at times, he dips from one extreme to the other to convey the trials and tribulations that everyday white males are facing, stuck in the cycle of privilege that they were born into and are now trying to distance themselves from.

The#MeToo movement and equal rights are quite rightly the big topic of the Fringe this year. However, Withnail manages to eloquently present the male side with a genuineness that is refreshing. Rather than delving into self pity and indulgence, he tackles the subject head on, admitting his ignorance and confessing his guilt at not realising the sheer scale of the situation sooner. A heartfelt section of the show features an open request to everyone in the audience to invest in more female comedians, to retrain your instinct and remove the default opinion that ‘women aren’t funny’. Impressively, this doesn’t come across as patronising in the slightest and it’s never distasteful. Instead, it’s something that, by Withnail’s own admission, he was guilty of in the past and he uses this platform as a long overdue opportunity to address the issue and champion women comics. 

This might all sound a bit serious, but Withnail has a clearly natural talent for comedy and keeps the momentum up the whole way through. Homeboy is one of the most complete and affirming shows I’ve seen this year.

Liam Withnail: Homeboy at Monkey Barrel, until 26 Aug, 5pm


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