It’s a super busy Fringe for this reviewer this year. There are so many great acts here this year it is a real challenge to schedule it all. It also means acts that don’t live up to your expectations are twice as unfortunate; it means you’ve missed out on seeing something else as well as having your hopes dashed.
Ed Byrne – Roaring Forties was one of the gigs I was most worried about in my schedule for this year.
My concerns began to fade the very minute we turned up at Venue 150 – The Edinburgh International Conference Centre. We came in a gang of four and one of us was in a wheelchair. The EICC is a great venue for wheelchairs, with easy access and – better still – helpful staff.
It was easy to get to our seats and comfortable when we got there. Not to knock the rest of the festival but it’s all too easy to end up in a tiny, dark room with the show lights slowly baking the audience to death while the comedian or performers cope with even greater heat.
Best of all? Ed Byrne was hilariously funny.
This is a show that mixes observational comedy with personal experience. I suppose you could call it a typical standup act in that regard and, in fact, at one point Byrne was even letting the audience in on typical standup structures in a peek behind the curtain. What’s entirely untypical about the Roaring Forties is the on-stage charisma of Byrne.
I’m not entirely sure how to describe Ed Byrne’s persona. He feels safe – in the sense that I don’t think any of his jokes will make me feel uncomfortable, I don’t think he’s going to be a twat on stage. Yet, at the same time, there are times when he feels edgy and interesting. I know that should be mutually exclusive – safe and edgy? Impossible? Somehow Byrne manages it.
If I’ve learnt anything from Ed Byrne is that the Roaring Forties will be over before I realise it and it’ll be a laugh a minute.
Unremarkable? Hardly – and I see why that would touch a nerve.