Ed Byrne: Crowd Pleaser

It's hard to fault this set by Ed Byrne, although it's very tempting to do so. Stewart Lee describes Byrne as 'a much better stand-up than he has any reason to be'. It's easy to find reasons why Byrne, in his current professional position, could settle into tepid blandness. Against the odds of Mock the Week stardom, however, he is still an undeniably entertaining man. While Byrne may not push the comedy envelope, he is occasionally capable of delivering it first class. This is a slick, professional set in a slick, professional venue. The die-hard Fringe purist inside me was wary from the first sight of its glittering lobby. Then again, part of me suspects Ed Byrne agrees with me.A section where he declares himself a nerd initially rings a little false, given his huge mainstream appeal. Byrne then goes on to prove his credentials with an extended reference to the Star Trek film series so specific that all different kinds of nerd will be lost. As great as it must be to perform to crowds this size, I began to wonder if Byrne ever hankers to be back in a dank basement room with no air conditioning, talking about Star Trek for half an hour to ten people who really, really like and understand him. The majority of the set has a wider scope, though. One of Byrne's first routines is about a crowd who began to question his talents as an observer when he mixed up the days of the week. Although observational comedy has been done to death in recent years, there are few people doing this kind of thing at this level. For that reason alone he deserves the attention. Indeed, there are few worse acts in the middle of the road. But Ed Byrne has been around long enough both to realise the value and develop the skill of veering from that point. It would be much more engaging to see him try.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

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The Blurb

Important issues like immigration, religion and fatherhood. Unimportant issues like being a nerd, meeting celebrities and owning a cat. Come experience the hilarity. 'Crowd Pleaser does exactly what it says on the tin' **** (Evening Standard ).

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