sun 16/12/2018

Ed Byrne, Touring review - the perils of modern fatherhood | reviews, news & interviews

Ed Byrne, Touring review - the perils of modern fatherhood

Ed Byrne, Touring review - the perils of modern fatherhood

Personal but not self-indulgent

Ed Byrne compares and contrasts the parenting he received to the one he doles out to his sons

Ed Byrne is a worried parent. Thankfully his two young sons are hale and hearty, but he is concerned he may be bringing up a pair of pampered, Lord Fauntleroy youngsters, and in Spoiler Alert he ponders the differences between his experience of being parented as a child in the 1980s, and now being a dad himself.

He wonders if his generation of parents may be giving a little too much to their offspring in material terms – “Social services send a drone to check you have a full-size trampoline in the back garden,” he says. And it’s not just ownership of a bunch of stuff that delineates the generations, Byrne tells us; his sons’ palate is far more sophisticated than his will ever be – pesto tagliatelle for the kids’ tea, anyone?

Byrne has a nicely waspish take on life, love, fatherhood and marriage

Byrne is caught between wanting to provide for his family and realising that he could be nurturing ingrates who aren’t as overcome by a trip to Lapland to meet Santa Claus as he is. Then again, it wasn’t all wonderful back in the day; he wryly recounts the “quality time” he spent with his father – sitting in the car waiting for him to come out of the pub.

As a successful comic, Byrne acknowledges he is pretty spoiled himself nowadays; writing a magazine column about his love of the outdoors, making travel programmes in fantastic locations with his great mate Dara Ó Bríain, and being able to afford a massive 4x4. The first and second references produce wonderfully self-deprecating jokes, and the last a rather less satisfying anecdote about running out of petrol.

Two hours about how happy anybody is would be very tedious indeed but, despite its personal nature, the show is only occasionally self-indulgent. It’s delightfully transgressive, too, as a tale about tough love concerning a child being irritating on a country walk and the purpose of an electric fence testifies. There’s no treacliness because Byrne has a nicely waspish take on life, love, fatherhood and marriage, well constructed gags and superb timing – and he drops in the occasional wank gag or knob joke for added value.

There’s a handbrake turn as Byrne talks about Donald Trump. Good though the material is, and with an original take on the subject, it doesn’t sit entirely comfortably with the rest of the show, which I saw at the Central Theatre in Chatham. Although I would be happy to hear the Irish comic do a whole hour on the subject, Spoiler Alert isn’t perhaps the best place for it. But Byrne, as ever, has constructed a show with plenty of laughs, and some food for thought too.

  • Ed Byrne is touring until 2 June
He wonders if his generation of parents give too much to their offspring in material terms

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters