Ed Byrne returned to the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this month with Spoiler Alert, the new show which points the spotlight at how the modern world seems full of ‘spoiled, conceited, self-centred arseholes’. Centred around his own experience as a working-class man who finds himself raising his own middle-class children, he tackles issues important to our time without ever reaching for the soap box.
Originally entitled I’ll Millennial You In a Minute, Byrne frames this one-hour set about his life as a successful comic through telling stories about his family, skiing holidays, and license-payer funded trips around the world – all without over-indulging. Despite the ladder of success apparently forcing one to step fully through the looking-glass, Byrne addresses his celebrity frankly, but with humility.
In a tone that seems more at home coming from a comfortable armchair than a stage, Byrne asserts that ‘the truth has become bespoke’, without ever lecturing. Where his material is obviously informed by his position as one of the nation’s most loved comedians, it resists alienating the audience who can clearly empathise with the experience of parenthood.
Much of the comedy is framed through his own upbringing, that of his children, and his experience of family in general. Marking the journey between measuring cost in pints and measuring cost in holidays is sure to go down a storm with any Fringe audience.
Byrne honed the set on the usual London comedy circuit and shows his expertise in his connection to the audience. His performative confidence goes well with his unique brand of buoyant-pedantry, taking swipes at The Daily Express and London bankers while pointing a mirror at the modern world. He pokes fun at mod-cons without which we would all be lost, yet keeps the audience on-side through genuine warmth of character.
With umpteen years of festival sets behind him, his relatable set will land well with anyone from Generation X purely through relatability, while his personality and well-crafted material would appeal to anyone else. Personal but not indulgent, polished without seeming rehearsed, Spoiler Alert won’t provide hard-hitting satire which you’ll digest for hours after, but it’ll certainly give you something to keep laughing about long-after your seat’s gone cold.
Ed Byrne’s Spoiler Alert runs until August 27th at the Assembly George Square.