ROOKIE REVIEW: Ed Byrne: Outside, Looking In

Rookie Reviewer Caspar Goodwin shares his thoughts on Ed Byrne’s recent performance at Town Hall.

To the shrieks of a distorted guitar, Ed Byrne strode onto the stage with a fidgety energy that kept the audience’s attention throughout. Donning an appropriately rock-star-esque outfit, retro t-shirt and all, the Irishman immediately endeared himself to the initially subdued spectators with a self-deprecating look at some of his worst gigs and most awkward interviews. Coupled with a comment on Birmingham City Centre’s seemingly perpetual renovation, the audience and performer soon settled. And it never hurts to throw in a few lines about the ridiculousness of bankers’ bonuses.

The range of topics Byrne covered was impressive. From relationships, to the frustrations of boarding planes, via student doctors and the perils of taking children into coffee shops; he made the mundane seem anything but, and linked these disparate things seamlessly. Hilarious anecdotes were met with quick one liners, which prevented the set from becoming monotonous, and moments of theatricality created surprise and drama. One-liners were made particularly powerful by his innate comic timing.

But he also dealt with heavier subjects. His discussion of misogyny and homophobia was a clear sign of his experience and craftsmanship as a comedian. He remained tactful and ‘PC’ (in his own words), yet approached the issue from an angle that was still funny and enlightening. Whilst an amusing anecdote of how he discussed gender identity, sexual politics and feminism with his rather perplexed and bemused son, who was teased for wearing pink shoes, was evidence of an experienced comedian who knew how to approach difficult topics from an original perspective. And he neatly rounded off his set by unveiling a photo of his son wearing those pink shoes, which made the show that bit more personal.

It seems odd that Ed Byrne has not received the same level of attention as Michael Macintyre or Lee Evans, for example, because on the evidence of last night, he is a comedic force to be reckoned with.

Caspar Goodwin is a 21-year-old music student at the University of Birmingham. He is a big sports fan and reports for the sport section of the university radio network. Jazz and classical are his favourite genres to go and see live, but he enjoys trying and discovering new things.