Following a sell-out 2017 Fringe run, Ed Byrne returns to Edinburgh with a side-splitting show about family life, getting older and passing questionable traits onto his kids. While claiming he needs his comedy career more than ever – despite his initial belief that raising a family would give him newfound purpose in life – his two sons, Magnus and Cosmo, are the main focus of Byrne’s show, If I’m Honest, as he continues on this new style of comedy that made his previous show, Spoiler Alert, such a success.
Byrne is full of energy as he makes his way onto the stage. Like a child doped up on Irn Bru, he jumps around the stage, occasionally falling to the floor; it makes you wonder whether his behaviour is something he’s picked up from his own kids. Don’t be fooled by this liveliness in his character though. Ever the over-thinker, Byrne’s self-deprecating tone about the lack of positive traits he has to pass onto his kids is hilarious to watch. Anecdotes criticising his own parenting skills are achingly funny, as he tries (and fails) to not pass on his pedantic and cynical nature to his children. Combined with the brief but brilliant references to his wife – she too brimming with sarcasm – you can’t help but wonder how their kids will turn out.
There are some digressions towards other topics, including Liam Neeson’s forgotten racism and the frustration that comes with having to constantly change passwords. Yet, as is often the case with Byrne’s comedy, he always finds a way to bring it back to the main subject of the show, proving himself to be a class comedian and storyteller. Byrne also accepts that his comedic persona has changed; now a financially-stable family man on his way to becoming 50, his material has naturally moved on with him. However, while his children are a wealth of material, Byrne’s talk of money and adapting to his middle-class existence goes on a wee bit too long. Even though he does acknowledge the audience’s part in giving him this comfortable lifestyle – and rewards us with the discovery of a crass new purpose for chaise longue in a hallway – the laughs are a lot harder when he moves away from the subject.
As well as admitting his lack of likeable characteristics, the show’s title, If I’m Honest, references the temptations that torture the comic; to be more specific, the comments he wishes to make that would be, in his opinion, career-ending. We get only a glimpse of this darker side of Byrne as he discusses his ageing parents – with some killer punchlines that are pretty brutal. Byrne’s right in thinking that this change in comedic tone would affect his audience demographic and his regular stints on talk shows; however, given how hilariously shocking it is, I’m sure many fans would stick with him. When the devil horns come out, Byrne is a riot, and it would be great to see more of this side of Byrne.
For now, though, If I’m Honest is a solid hour of entertainment from a man who has long been in the comedy industry. With a UK tour following the Fringe, you’d honestly be a fool to miss out.