Ed Byrne: “Tragedy Plus Time” at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

**** 1/2 (out of 5)

We’ve all heard of Irish Goodbyes, but Irishman Ed Byrne hadn’t. He’s not sure it’s even apt. “Have you ever seen my dad leave the pub?”

But that’s not what this show is about, exactly. Although it’s very much about how Ed was forced to say goodbye to his kid brother, Paul. Ed also has one of the best quips I’ve heard this Fringe about comedians claiming mental illness: “We’re all so neurodivergent we’ve become neuroconvergent.” For his part, Ed might digress and announces as much throughout, but all of his digressions likewise converge in a masterful bit of cathartic storytelling and joke-telling about Paul, who died Feb. 12, 2022. No matter what YouTube might tell you. There’s no conspiracy about how Paul Byrne died. His boozing bruised his liver. A bout of lymphoma weakened him some more. Then a breakup with his girlfriend during pandemic lockdown led to him relapsing into a bender, and he failed his liver, only to get sent home from the hospital where his roommate, who didn’t take COVID seriously, passed his COVID along to Paul.

As Ed recounts his final months with Paul, there’s some light fun thrown at the expense of other comedians and some darker jokes about Paul’s musical tastes and Ed’s less tasteful remarks both to Paul and to their mother during the end.

Paul had directed several comedians who played the Fringe. You might say he directed this triumph, too.

Ed Byrne: Tragedy Plus Time runs through Aug. 27 at Assembly Rooms, Music Hall

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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