During his fifth appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Irish comedian Andrew Ryan sets out to teach us to forgive people and their mistakes, as he tries to find humour in the senseless (and sometimes cruel) actions of others. Born in Cork and now living in Watford, Ryan also uses his latest show to discuss life as an immigrant in a post-Brexit Britain.
Andrew Ryan opens incredibly strong. His wonderful thick accent is complimented by his cheeky smile and modest nature. Ryan’s potential as a comedian is evident from the outset as he considers Edinburgh and the Scottish landscape. When his attempt at a Scottish accent goes awry, he smoothly recovers by describing it as payback for all the shocking attempts at an Irish accent that most of us are guilty of doing.
The title of his show, Did You Get Here Alright? is Ryan playfully mocking his mum for the silly things she says when he returns home to Ireland. This idea of not thinking before you speak, along with the ignorance that can come from this, is what gets the Irish comedian into gear. Ryan will leave you feeling dizzy as he enters one of his whirlwind rants, talking at such a phenomenal speed it is a wonder how seldom he messes up or a joke gets lost.
However, while these lectures on people’s stupidity start off as playful, they take a darker turn. The self-deprecating nature we see in Ryan at the beginning of the show – when he first fumbles his own intro – suddenly turns outward, as he begins to harshly criticise people who have wronged him in his life. His frustration and anger towards immoral people has a substantial role within his material, pushing the show’s trajectory towards a tone that at times is uncomfortable and rather preachy. Ryan’s main story about a rude comment made to him by a heckler in Watford instigates a huge existential crisis for the comedian, forcing him to question his career choices and own heritage. Unsurprisingly, the acts and consequences admitted by Ryan are often very sad; there is little to laugh about when a man speaks of suffering from serious panic attacks after wrongly being arrested.
Thankfully, these heavier moments are broken up with far more light-hearted subjects. Ryan’s story about meeting his idol, Eddie Izzard, is fantastic, and brightens up the hour after quite a gloomy interlude. Despite political discussion being rife this year at the Fringe, his comments on immigration, British expats and their views on Brexit are all well received.
Things eventually come full circle, as Ryan finally reveals how he responded to the heckler from Watford. While it gives him the hour-long-awaited punch line, it seems a shame that it all has to revert back to a negative – to a man who didn’t like his comedy. It doesn’t help that Ryan admits that there is “no big joke” to finish, offering instead a plea to give people a chance, and to give them the benefit of the doubt. While Andrew Ryan has noble intentions behind his Fringe show this year, his determination to provide a moral lesson to spectators may be lost on those only looking for the craic.
Andrew Ryan: Did You Get Here Alright?
Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17)
Until 27th August
Photo credit: Andy Hollingworth