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It’s hard to believe that livewire Irish comic Ed Byrne has been “gigging” for more than twenty years. Given that he’s now forty-four, that’s half his life. Funnier than ever, he’s back on the road with a brand new show called “Outside, Looking In.”

Bounding on stage, swiping his long hair from his eyes, he started talking at a million miles a minute, and the pace didn’t let up for a second. Having skipped into the mainstream with appearances on TV shows such as “Mock The Week” and “Have I Got News For You,” Ed has built up an enviable reputation for his hilarious monologues, and his latest show doesn’t in any way disappoint. Somehow, it’s even funnier than “Crowd Pleaser,” the show that he toured to widespread acclaim in 2011.

Performing for the best part of two hours, with a short break between “sets,” Ed had the entire audience in his hand. Regardless of whether he was sharing his embarrassment at going to the doctor’s and being seen by a young female GP, or whether he was talking about playing dad to his two young sons, Ed’s humility shone through every gag, his integrity always there to see and behold. Proving that you don’t have to be sexist or racist to win laughs, Ed, it seems, would rather self-deprecatingly relate his own life experiences without offending anybody for the sake of doing so — something that certainly can’t be said of Frankie Boyle!

A natural orator, it would be hard to imagine Ed doing anything other than stand-up, even if he has done the odd bit of acting over the years, starring in a number of movies and shows such as “Father Ted.” As great as he is on-screen, it’s when Ed’s up in front of a live audience that he really steps into his power, sharing his views, often in the most surreal, engaging manner.

Admitting that he gets tired of being asked the same old questions by journalists in interviews, Ed implied that he doesn’t like retreading the same ground more than once, which is presumably why he embraces any and every opportunity to spring off at wonderfully entertaining tangents, especially when he throws questions out to the audience. Shrinking in my seat near the back of the auditorium, I momentarily feared that I was going to be singled-out for the inane questions that I’d asked him in interview, but Ed promptly switched subjects, allowing me to relax. Audi drivers, however, didn’t get off quite so lightly, with Ed wishing that more Audi drivers would try a little harder at indicating before turning.

Arguably the funniest part of “Outside, Looking In” came during the aforementioned “Doctor’s Appointment” story, even if that section of the show would have been particularly uncomfortable for any audience-members nursing queasy stomachs.

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As well as being hugely popular in the UK with his quick-thinking, smooth-talking brand of comedy, Ed is revered in countries as far-flung as Australia, Singapore and Austria, regularly performing in front of capacity audiences.

Primed to continue performing “Outside, Looking in” until the start of June, at which point the tour will climax with a show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Ed’s relentless energy can’t fail to be harnessed in the most productive way until then.

I’m already pining for his next tour.

Visit www.edbyrne.com for more information

(Steve Rudd)



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