Ed Byrne @ Pleasance Courtyard
Ed Byrne possesses some of the best qualities for success as a comedian. Funny, charming and Irish, he is separated from others on the circuit by his tangible charisma and, this year, by the undeniably brilliant entrance he makes into Standing Up and Falling Down. This is followed by a seemingly effortless barrage of anecdotes, which consistently delight the packed cavern of the Pleasance Grand.
The show explores the ridiculous elements of culture, from the irony of white British men trying to rap ("keeping it relatively real, man") to the glaring inadequacies of the anti-bullying wristbands which have caused a sharp rise in playground punch-ups. This last routine is accompanied by a beautifully choreographed fight with himself to rival Ed Norton's in Fight Club.
Despite moments of refreshing spontaneity, the body of the performance relies on the cosy topics of relationships and the trials of modern life. This is a man who admits that he knows and works his demographic (couples and people who get frustrated with modern life). Towards the end of the show, Byrne quips, "if you're funny it'll get you four stars; to get five stars you have to have a point". This optimistic observation aside, Standing Up and Falling Down lacks both depth or a point and the result is more devastating than Byrne predicts. A shiny, slick three stars for polished, but ultimately empty entertainment.
Ed Byrne - Standing Up and Falling Down, Pleasance Courtyard, until August 28 (not 14), 21:50, £14.50/£13.50 (£13/£12).http://www.edbyrne.com