As an inexorable drunken dancer, have to steer clear of musical events on a school night at my age. I figured this wouldn’t be so bad; sit in the Corn Exchange, listen to Ed Byrne telling a joke or three. I didn’t weigh in the chance my ribs would be hurting in the morning and I’d still be grinning like a madman at the intricate weaving of observation comedy, yet they were, and I was, during my dark morning shift. This was, simply 250% side-splitting.
I had psychologically amassed hype in my mind, feeling like I’d been sitting in our grand hall since June waiting for this guy to show. Undoubtedly the only disappointment at this summer’s Devizes Arts Festival, Margaret announcing Ed’s car had broken down and he wasn’t going to make it, turned into a bogof for the punters. If we chuckled at the proficient two support acts in June, and we sniggered at Canadian comedian Paul Myrehaug on this occasion, there’s a clear distinction between the support comedian and a name like Ed Byrne. I have to hand it to Devizes Arts Festival for bringing such big names to our little town.
Ed compered the show, popping on first to run a few annotations surrounding the unfortunate circumstances for his truancy in June, which although I’d anticipated, did it in such a hilarious manner it served as the perfect taster for what was to come. He introduced Paul Myrehaug with negative banter. A winner of the 2007 Yuk Yuk’s Great Canadian Laugh In, and second place in the Seattle International Comedy Competition in 2006, Paul is now a regular on the UK circuit and supports Ed on this “If I’m Honest” tour. He delivered amusing anecdotes with natural flair, verging somewhat on crude, but executed courteously. Taunting one member of the audience, and effortlessly treating testing gags on us as part of his act, distinctively he owned the stage with magnetism.
Aptly titled, Ed Byrne’s If I’m Honest never ventured into politics or current affairs, matter-of-factually threatening to bore with Brexit at one point remained but a one-liner. This was an elaborate interlacing of observational comedy and rumination, topics relating to family life and its subsequent cultures. With frank veracity that his children aggravate him a in manner others are unqualified of equalling, he concluded the inaugural with the unpretentious reason for this; their traits remind him of himself.
From here he jests his self-esteem, expresses contempt for his own character, progressing into pondering precisely what qualities he has which he would like to pass on to them. At its pinnacle the routine examines his own liabilities, laying into copious cultural references from his past. This worked wonders for me, being only a year younger, I identified with his thoughts on the eighties Superman movie and like him, I wished for a Big Trac, which, thankfully looking back on it, never appeared under a Christmas Tree.
With spellbindingly funny narrative, it moves swiftly, to contemporary culture engulfing his kid’s life, his abhorrence for online irritations and the interminable enticement to sabotage his career by daring himself to yell inappropriate language on Facebook or The One Show. If the great Billy Connolly mastered returning to previous points the audience may’ve forgotten about in the constant stream of bullet points, Ed Byrne nurtures this skill proficiently, and projects an non-stop laugh-out-loud show.
Far from being the end to this year’s Devizes Arts Festival though, as their gallant effort to bring us big named stars continues into November, with a highly-anticipated one-off show from legendary R&B singer and keyboardist, Georgie Fame, I will not hold my breath for next year’s line-up until I’m done dancing to Yeah, Yeah; so I’d advise you grab tickets for that asap!
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