What do you do when you realise your children are spoilt and have an unacceptable sense of entitlement? Most would say that allowing your son to touch an electric fence is not the way to teach humility. Ed Byrne disagrees. In his superb new show, Spoiler Alert, Byrne examines how spoilt we are as a society – especially his two young sons, Magnus and Cosmo.
Long-time fans of Byrne will see Spoiler Alert as a significant shift from his previous work. Looking back at shows like A Different Class (not on YouTube, I hasten to add), nobody can deny that Byrne is no longer the working-class comedian from Dublin he started out as. He accepts that he is now, well and truly, middle class, his two English-accented children proving a constant reminder of this. That being said, he is not afraid to mock his 4X4 (a Volvo named Violet), highlight his borderline-obsession with the price of skiing holidays, and express his increasing resentment towards his elderflower cordial-loving offspring.
What is so wonderful about Byrne’s comedy is the way in which he effortlessly discusses a variety of different topics and yet stays focused on the main discussion at hand. He realises the wealth of material that comes from personal experiences. The anecdotes he shares about Magnus and Cosmo are hysterical, leaving an eager audience hanging off his words. Yet, the Irish comedian still proves himself a virulent voice of reason as he highlights how our society’s tendency to be spoilt is more than just food and expensive taste. His brilliant albeit brief observations of broadly-spanning topics such as microbeads, Trump and the media depict us as suffering from an endemic of indulgence, denial and delusions.
Spoiler Alert proves that Ed Byrne still has so much to offer. Throughout the years, we have shared in his experiences of friendship, marriage and having kids (and very nearly electrocuting them), begging the question, what’s next for Byrne? Hopefully not divorce, he remarks, though at the same time admitting that it would be a goldmine of quality material.
Seeing the show on Wednesday night, I was lucky enough to discover another gem. As part of the Fringe’s ‘Accessible Performances’ programme, Byrne was accompanied onstage by Yvonne Strain, a BSL interpreter. Strain’s presence enriched Spoiler Alert beyond belief, and frankly every night should have the duo up onstage together. As well as the brilliant dynamic between the pair, Strain brought the house down with the BSL community’s interpretations of chlamydia and “fuck soup” – Byrne’s admittedly inappropriate, though incredibly accurate, name for Love Island.
If I still have not convinced you that Spoiler Alert is a must-see show this summer, then at least head down on a Wednesday just to see what Donald Trump is in BSL. Not only is it brilliant, but it is also the first show with a Trump/Brexit reference that didn’t make my eyes roll (and there have been many).
Like his children, Byrne well and truly spoils his audience in this wonderful Fringe performance – my face still hurts from laughing so much. Bravo, Ed.
Ed Byrne: Spoiler Alert
Assembly George Square Lecture Theatre (Venue 8)
Until 27th August (not 14th)
Photo credit: Roslyn Gaunt