Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Spoiler Alert holding a chainsaw the image is misleading. It is hard to think of a more amiable comedian; the only point in the evening when he comes close to losing his temper is due to a patron repeatedly using her mobile phone.
This affable personality is at odds with the theme of the show which is based on Byrne’s annoyance at the way his immediate family and wider society has become spoiled. Being of working-class Irish origin Byrne occasionally struggles to connect with his sons who he describes as two posh English children of the sort he would not have befriended as a boy. Byrne presents himself as a typical baffled middle-aged bloke feeling slightly aggrieved that his own father did not have to make the same effort at parenting that he is expected to show to his children.
Byrne is not the sort of comedian who depends on jokes with punchlines but is more in the style of a raconteur cheerfully chatting on subjects which actually have little to do with the theme of the show. Byrne’s habit of digressing is so extreme that a story started in Act One is not brought to a conclusion until towards the end of Act Two. Appropriately one of the topics upon which he expands is his hobby of rambling describing himself as an ‘outdoor snob’ who mocks anyone who requires refreshments or uses motorised transport on a hike.
The success of Spoiler Alert lies in the friendly, articulate delivery as well as the quality of the material. Byrne has a close relationship with the audience and genuinely seems flattered by their support. He acts as his own warm-up and opens the show sharing anecdotes about less welcoming venues. Byrne is sensitive enough to notice when the audience becomes distracted and is so relived to find it is due to confetti from a previous show drifting down onto the stage that he spins the event into an improvised routine.
Spoiler Alert is a generous length and although Byrne goes well off- topic does not feel padded. Although he describes his routine on Donald Trump as being a contractual obligation he actually manages to find a new way of spoofing the great statesman by recalling his delight at finding out how the name ‘Trump’ is mimed in British Sign Language.
Spoiler Alert is not a ground-breaking show; the insights are not especially thought-provoking. But the warm atmosphere and high-quality material are hard to resist.
25th February 2018 | Image: Contributed