Ed Byrne: Spoiler Alert
Ed Byrne is such a likable presence that it feels difficult to admit his new show Spoiler Alert is nothing that spectacular, but there’s nothing that memorable this time around. Byrne’s style is still excitable and frantic, but the humour here is languishing. It’s existentialism by M&S, with stories about the pronunciation of Aga and hill walking making up the basis of the show. Sure, there are some very funny moments near the opening, and a joke at the very end induced the first genuine outburst of laughter from the crowd. But, these moments are few and far between, it seemed Ed was aware of this too, with his usual confidence appearing shaken as he attempted audience interaction regarding a joke punchline. Spoiler Alert is worth seeing if you’re a diehard Byrne fan, but is hard to recommend otherwise.
Margaret Thatcher- Queen of Game Shows
Realistically, this could well be a contender for the most bizarre show of the Fringe. Following on from the very successful Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho, this new instalment finds the iron lady and her two assistants Strong and Stable creating a gameshow to issue the nation’s benefits payments. However, things soon get far weirder than this initial premise would suggest. To go into how would give away some of the show’s best jokes, but expect to see a lot more famous faces imitated with mostly good results. There’s also some very funny musical numbers thrown into the mix here to break up the rounds. The strong political leaning doesn’t come as a surprise given the show’s satirical styling, and when it works it’s well handled however, certain points feel exceptionally heavy handed and risk derailing the enjoyment. Thankfully though these are rarities usually displaced by genuinely unpredictable weirdness.
By the time I take my seat for Alfie Brown, having stepped in a minute or two late, he’s warming the crowd up chatting with affable Americans in the front row especially. This continues until the crowd has fully filtered in, and Brown shows an exceptional talent for this conversational approach to comedy. In fact, it goes on for around 25 minutes into his set; prompting Brown to exclaim “This isn’t a work in progress, this is a work in indulgence” Which may be hard to deny, sadly though once he delves into his new material the pleasant mockery of crowd members and stream of consciousness ramblings are replaced by disjointed humour with a more sinister edge. There is some good material present, but it’s underwhelming when you see just how clever a comedian he can be. This was a work in progress show, and there are signs by time of completion the humour will be more nuanced and judged so Brown’s new effort remains one to watch.