Ed Byrne: Crowd Pleaser, Dome, Brighton

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The Independent Culture

Perhaps it is the boyish face and youthful dexterity of the 39-year-old Irish comedian, but when people talk about Ed Byrne they tend to do so in terms of a school report card. "He showed a lot of promise", suggests a friend just after I had decided in my head that, had he been graded by my old school, he would have been awarded an A for effort and a B minus for attainment.

Now surely a veteran comedian, having been active since the mid-Nineties, Byrne has lost none of his zeal for the job and, judging by the opening sequence where he introduces his own support act, the uninspired choice of Karl Spain, he is still prone to nervous excitement in the face of geeing his audience up.

Gee them up he does, but his first 20 minutes, pre-support act, gives away the rollercoaster ride we will embark on with him later, one on which the enthusiasm never falters but the material waxes and wanes. From a routine that delightfully depicts the post-election coalition as Lib Dem mums "having a word" with Tory mums so that their children could play together, we dip down later on to a sequence about chip and PIN machines where the sarcasm overload does not equate to the annoyance at hand.

Returning after an interval, the wiry comic gets some comfortable audience banter going. The subject is meeting famous people but being disappointed by them; his own example is an encounter with the late actor Paul Winfield, known to Byrne for his appearance in the Star Trek movie The Wrath of Khan.

After this the show gravitates to more earthly matters, in particular Byrne's family life. The family hearth is a banker for all that is warm and fuzzy – but it also has the cloying power of a 1970s sitcom. Observations on the phrase "do you want to put the bins out?" and the sly demands of the exhortation "while you're up" limit the aspirations of this show.

Touring to 31 May ( www.edbyrne.com)