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Review of Ed Byrne: Outside, Looking In at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Thursday I found myself at my first stand-up in the Derngate theatre as an honoured guest of Mr Chris Sparkle due to Mrs Chris Sparkle doing big business elsewhere. The stand-up in question was Mr Ed Byrne, a comic I was vaguely familiar with via panel shows including Have I Got News For You. However appearances on these shows very rarely give you the gist of what they get up in their live stand-ups. So there was little knowledge of what to expect.

Unshackled from that desk that is the staple of the TV panel show, Mr Byrne became a slightly stalking and ganguly presence on stage. Trailing the large stage microphone cable in tow and occasionally sipping from a generous glass of "juice", he proves an interesting vision.

His material is magical and detailed in its exploration of subjects. After being insulting to bankers (via an anecdote about performing at a corporate gig) and rather strangely Audi drivers (we all agreed during the interval that surely he meant BMW owners), the first half moved to dating. This was explored in great detail but never tiresomely as Mr Byrne easily kept the jokes flowing. He was helped wonderfully on his path by two excellent contributions of dating woes from the audience. I had read in a couple of reviews previously that he had occasionally failed to engineer any life from the audience. However Terry the "marine biologist" successfully engineered a joke or two of his own and Rosaline the librarian gave Mr Byrne the perfect chance to show his quick wittiness with ironically one of the best moments of the night.

The second half drifted through subjects including children in Costa and diarrhoea issues. The first from where I was sitting came under a slightly split line of acceptability especially from some of the examples given. The diarrhoea part though was something else, unpleasant, awkward and giving quite horrific images (including soup ones that may never go away), however also outrageously funny.

Mr Byrne is a rather excellent comic and while he lets quite a few F's go during the show and a single C, he never feels unnecessarily offensive in his language. This is a personal problem that I have when seeing many modern comics on television. Bad language is lazy and rarely part of the joke, so it should be used in moderation. Mr Byrne for me moderates it just about right and makes the whole evening better for it.

So for a first encounter with a stand-up in the Derngate it was a big win. The evening ended on what truly felt like a warm and real story (you can never trust a comic in his truthfulness) and made us happy to leave with fully exercised laughing muscles and a pleasant uplifting feel in the heart.

««««½

Performance reviewed: Thursday 18th February, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Ed Byrne: Outside, Looking In was performed at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate) on Thursday 18th February, 2016 only but is on a tour until June. Website for details: http://edbyrne.com/

For further details about the Royal & Derngate visit their website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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