3 August 2006

Standing up and Falling Down by Ed Byrne

I've seen three *big* comedians perform on massive stages and on two occasions I was sorely disappointed. Last year I saw Omid Djalili perform in the Pleasance Grand (the sports hall) and I was thoroughly unimpressed. I saw Dara O'Brian perform in the Assembly Rooms' Ballroom in front of 1,000 people and I was shocked – I couldn't believe such an inherently funny man could pull off a bad show. I also saw Danny Bhoy in the same venue and I had little expectation for him, I just wanted to see what he was like, and low and behold he was very good! It's now the turn of Ed Byrne to see if he can make it balance at 2 good and 2 bad or just confirm the rumour that comic who make in the mainstream are no longer funny. Just by walking into the arena I was laughing my proverbial red socks off as we had been allowed into the venue by flashing used Russell Howard tickets! As we sat down the music that Ed has chosen to entertain us with was Richard Cheese's latest album, Dark Side of the Moon! Very positive starts.

Ed's whole show is vaguely themed around the Michael Douglas film Falling Down where he gets so frustrated with everything he takes his anger and stress out on everyone who frustrates him. This is one of the better shows I have seen in Edinburgh as it was pacey, the stories didn't drag on too long and where varied and I left with seven or eight really good jokes bouncing around my memory. The downsides where that he was never painfully funny but did make me leak salt water on a few occasions. He inevitably did a ten minute piece on music and I cringed when he then used the word ironic as one of his most famous pieces is ripping into Alanis Morrisette for her awful song and then correcting her to show what would be ironic. The only reason I squirmed because I got the feeling he's used up his entire life's allowance of that word and if he carries on using it he may come across as harking back to his stand up prime. I think Ed is the best we've seen so far although my companions did stress they though Russell Howard was better overall, as they conceded that Ed have more big laughs. A big performance for a big crowd but not a comic at his peak or in the flow – think 3½ stars out of 5 despite the name dropping and he's edging on the border of being reccomended at full price. Drop the price to £8 from £12 and he gets a full endorsement but I don't see that happening somehow...