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Ed Byrne: Comedy Festival review

Ed Byrne

Ed Byrne - A Different Class

I'm worried about Irish comedian Ed Byrne.

The guy clearly has some problem with obsession - almost to the point where you'd wonder how he manages to remember to breathe.

Let me give you an example - albeit one not scripted from his latest show A Different Class - which happened during his 2 hour set at the SkyCity Theatre.

10 minutes in - after Ed's vented about how impressed he is we've wandered out on a Monday night and clearly don't care about work the next day - the lights on stage flicker.

Now any normal person would dismiss this and move on - but not Ed.

With his self confessed "obsession" problem (he obsesses over arguments from decades ago, obsesses over what would have been the perfect comeback) when Ed returns to the stage for the second act some 40 minutes later, he informs us it was merely a power surge rather than "operator error."

Not an issue which I would guess many of the crowd was concerned with - but that's not the way Ed Byrne works.

A Different Class is loosely about Ed's place in the world - and the (mainly UK) obsession with the class system.

Struggling to decide whether he's working class or middle class, Ed recounts various stories from his youth - including how he wasn't posh enough to own a SodaStream but was clever enough to drink proper colas rather than continually drinking home made efforts.

He also admits to being very picky before launching into a very funny routine about how improbable Back To The Future actually is and why the re-release of Michael Jackson's Thriller is simply the old record "but turned up a bit."

That's the thing with Ed - some of his views on life maybe seem a little out there to start off with but after a few minutes listening to him, you can't help but feel you would 100% fight his corner if need be.

While it's fair to say Ed was somewhat disappointed initially with the crowd numbers and struggled to get them to interact with him (something which is always endemic at the NZ International Comedy Festival - audiences appear to come to be amused, not always to interact) he immediately settled in and delivered some killer - and smart - lines which had humour and intelligence in spades.

Ed's at his animated best when he's clearly rankled by something - he's at his most acerbic and funniest at these moments - of which, I'm glad to say, there are plenty peppered through the show.

However, it's in the second half that he's at his best as he covers - with some vitriol - his recent wedding.

When embarking on talking about marriage -"It's the happiest day of your life....really?" - it's clear he's found a new set of issues which irritate him to our comic benefit.

A Different Class has some great lines about youths, goths and emos, being "that bloke" when it comes to being famous or obscure (he discovered he was that while wondering if his death would be covered on the news) - you really shouldn't miss Ed Byrne as he's on top of his game.

He manages to elicit sympathy and laughter from the audience in equal proportion; and the ease and comfort with which he interacts with the audience make this a clever and amusing night out - there are some real belly laughs as you get carried on Ed's emotional journey and begin to realise that he does have a point.

Ed clearly loves New Zealand - and it'd be a real shame if New Zealand didn't give him some of that love back.

Ed Byrne A Different Class is at Auckland's SkyCity Theatre until May 9th before heading out around New Zealand on a national tour.